BEMIDJI - The musicians who take the stage Saturday at Bemidji’s Chief Theater are no strangers to this community, but they’ll be making their first appearance together as a group known as Eira, taken from the Welsh word for “snow.”

The five-member group will present “Glen Tidings,” a concert of holiday music, in a 7:30 p.m. concert that will benefit the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. From every $20 ticket sold, $5 will be donated to the food shelf. Tickets are available at Kelsey’s Jewelry, Brigid’s Pub and Overbeek Electronics and Music, or by calling (218)-209-7884.

Eira was formed this year to present a four-concert tour that began Saturday and will end Dec. 20 in Duluth. Members are Ed Willett, Cheryl Leah, Liesel Wilson, Sue Spencer and Jim Ofsthun.

Willett and Leah began performing in Bemidji in the late 1990s as the musical duo, Chance, with performances at Bemidji State University and the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts. Wilson has since joined Chance. Bemidji audiences also got to hear Spencer and Ofsthun perform along with Willett and Leah as Willowgreen in a number of performances. Spencer and Ofsthun also performed here with their more recent group, McInnis’ Kitchen.

“We’re all friends,” Spencer said, “so we thought, ‘Let’s put together a Christmas concert. Let’s get out and do some Christmas music.”

They also decided their concerts would provide opportunities to help with local charities. With the help of Bemidji promoter Mike Tangen, they decided this concert would benefit the food shelf.

“It’s a great time of the year to make people aware of other people in need,” Ofsthun said. “What better time of year to give.”

Mary Mitchell, manager of the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, agrees the time is right.

“With the expenses we’ve had on our building repairs and the increased cost of food, we’ve had to use some of our reserves to meet our monthly expenses,” Mitchell said. “We’re hoping that folks will turn out and not only have a wonderful holiday experience but also … help the food shelf. We’re so grateful to this group for offering to do this performance.”

The Glen Tidings concert will feature vocal music, classical and Celtic songs with sounds of cello and violin filling the air, along with Irish drum and rhythm guitar sections.

Willett is a cellist, guitarist, composer, arranger and vocalist. Leah, a vocalist and poet, has recorded five albums in the last two years. Wilson primarily plays fiddle and erhu, an ancient Chinese string instrument, and also sings in several languages. Ofsthun plays drums and accordion and is a vocalist.

“Some of the program is unexpected, even for us,” Ofsthun said. “When we can have fun and like doing it, that sure comes across to the audience. We like to take some stuff out of left field and put it in there.”

Maggie Carlson of Bemidji, who has heard the musicians several times both here and on the road, said the audience is in for a treat.

“Those people have so much talent and power,” Carlson said. “Cheryl has such a powerful, strong voice. It’s powerfully rich energy that just leaves you feeling full. I wouldn’t miss it.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts