Who would have thought that two different musicians, Jon Romer and Jacque Tinsley, at the same celebration - Ten Thousand Villages in October of 2007 - would be the nascence of the duo Timeless Traditions?
Tinsley was finished playing with her group and stayed to listen to the next performer, Jon Romer, a Native American flute player. She said to herself, "I would like to play music with that man," and they began playing music together almost right away.
Their instruments, the flute and the harp, both hark back to ancient times - the Native American flute and the Middle Eastern lyre - and much of the music they enjoy playing connects the past with the present. They said using some of the Native American music is part of the past and still is in the present, thereby making it timeless and traditional. They add folk music from around the world in an effort to make a smooth transition from one culture to another.
Romer is a retired college professor, who held the chair of the Gustavus Adolphus College Voice Department for 19 years. From 1990 until 2004, Romer taught music in tribal education at the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School where he started the music program. He also taught at the Leech Lake Tribal College where he taught music and directed the choir, which performed at state and national conferences. He is still active within the Leech Lake community playing for special events like weddings, funerals, graduations and health services. He is a member of the International Native American Flute Association.
Tinsley said she believes it was the encouragement of her parents along with a very young child's love for music that led her to study voice, piano and guitar. She has played guitar, mandolin and percussion, as well as lending her voice to the vocals with Ruby Tuesday since1999. She began to play the Celtic harp in 2006.
"We searched for another person, we tried a lot of different instruments out and then Janet Brademan (Executive Director of the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts) introduced us to Ed (Wharton) who plays the violin and viola," said Tinsley.
Romer said "The flute is linear; the tones are sustained and move through time. It is more subtle. The harp plays the chords, and that is a vertical concept. The Native American flutes continue to be made today, and they are in different sizes just like the string instruments."
The guest artist, Edward Wharton said the violin and viola add warmth and richness to the setting.
"String instruments were developed to emulate the human voice, for example the violin is the soprano, the viola is the alto/tenor and the cello is the tenor to bass," Wharton said. "There is the whole concept of including feeling and emotion when they are played."
Wharton will join the duo as a guest artist for Sunday's concert. He started his musical education as a Suzuki violinist and then turned to the viola in his later teen years. Wharton has studied under teachers at the University of Illinois and Idaho and teaches string students at HeartStrings Suzuki Studio in Wisconsin, the St. Paul Conservatory of Music and the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts in Bemidji where he joined the music faculty this year.
Romer and Tinsley have recently recorded a CD of their music at the studio of Kirk Christman of Bemidji Music Center.
"It is meditative, peaceful music suitable for yoga and they are all original compositions," said Tinsley.