Meet the Musicians

You should be in the audience… Your seat is waiting!

The musicians of Music Saint Croix come from the best the regional freelance music world has to offer, having played with such familiar groups as the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera Orchestra, the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, the Sioux Falls Symphony, and Lyra Baroque Orchestra. All MSC members make their livings as professional working musicians and teachers. We’ve worked with artists from Aretha Franklin to Pavarotti and played music from Beethoven to Broadway!

Music 101 never sounded like this! Each Music Saint Croix concert offers a wide variety of musical styles, genres and composers. You’ll hear from old friends like Bach and Mozart and maybe make some new friends as well. Our concerts blend musical virtuosity with informative, even humorous narrative from the performers. More detailed program notes are provided for those wishing to dig a little deeper into the background of the musical selections.

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Our diverse pool of instruments allows MSC unusual flexibility in programming. We offer music you might not hear any place else. The delicious concert fare of traditional chamber music for strings, winds, brass and keyboard is regularly spiced up with mixed ensembles from the far reaches of the concert repertoire.

 

“A MSC concert program is a little bit like the weather in MN – it’s always changing. If you don’t love ‘this’, the breeze will soon blow some of ‘that’ your way.” – Joanna Shelton, violin.

 

Musician Bios

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0057Greg Beckwith – horn

Greg actually started on clarinet as a youngster but it is a good thing he quit, because he would not have made it as a professional. Instead one day he found a horn on the repair bench of his dad and was off and running from that point on. He now plays horn as a professional freelancer — everything from Pavarotti to Ray Charles to recordings with the Minnesota Orchestra.  Greg also does repair/restoration of instruments and teaches musical instrument repair at the Tech College in Red Wing. He loves spending time in the countryside of Red Wing with wife Susan and their energetic lab Gingersnap.

 

 

 

 

MattBertrandMatt Bertrand – bassoon

Matt Bertrand has been a member of the bassoon section of the South Dakota Symphony since 2003. Matt has also been a substitute/extra bassoonist with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Minnesota Opera, as well as various other ensembles in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. When not performing or teaching, Matt enjoys hiking, rock climbing and eating spicy foods. Oh, and his strangest talent is making bassoon reeds. Go figure.

 

 

 

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0161Coca Bochonko – viola

Violist Coca Bochonko is an active freelancer in the Twin Cities area.  She has performed with the Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, and VocalEssence.  She also performs regularly with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and has recently toured with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Coca is also a fitness instructor, teaching a variety of group exercise classes and training people in Pilates reformer and Wunda chair workouts.  She is a big fan of good food and fine wine–especially champagne–and hopes that her physical activities help balance this out. That said, she has also been known to order a #6 at McDonalds, crack open a Corona, and crank up the Gwen Stefani every now and then.

 

 

 

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Karl Diekman – clarinet

Karl has performed with a variety of ensembles, festivals and theater companies, including the Tucson Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, The Guthrie Theater, The Children’s Theater, The Minnesota Orchestra and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded for Columbia Pictures and the Newport Classics Label and received a Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet from Indiana University. Karl lives with three cats in a Victorian house in Stillwater surrounded by gardens, in which he grows such varied things as winter hardy Kiwi fruit, native popcorn, hops and lots of flowers. When not weeding, he enjoys cooking, canning, making beer, and riding his Harley. When he is not toughing it out in Stillwater, he is found boating in Lake Michigan where he has another home in Door County, Wisconsin.

 

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0487Dan Fretland- trumpet

Dan is an active freelance musician in the Twin Cities area, performing regularly with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and St. Anthony Brass Quintet.  By day, Dan is a music educator at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, MN. Beyond his musical pursuits and interests, Dan is an avid fly fisherman and scuba diver.  He has traveled to and fished many blue ribbon trout streams throughout the midwest and western United States and has dived on many of Lake Superior’s beautifully well-preserved shipwrecks.  Dan is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and a TDI certified technical diver and spends most of his summer in, on, or near the water.  He brews his own beer (but it’s not as fancy as Karl’s) and enjoys camping with his family.  He and his Wife, Mary, live in Eagan with their three energetic boys Aidan, Liam, and Connor.

 

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0186Sarah Grudem – harp

Sarah Grudem is a freelance harpist born, raised and currently living in Minneapolis.  She began studying the harp at age seven due to several chance circumstances (she had wanted to learn the viola) and has never looked back.  After graduating from Juilliard in 2003, she moved back home and earned a Master’s degree in performance from the University of Minnesota.   Though these two distinct worlds rarely collide, Sarah is also the co-owner of a small clothing business called Sassy Knitwear, specializing in unique organic cotton and recycled material clothing for women and children.  Making and designing clothes has also been a long-time passion of hers, and she feels very fortunate to be able to make a living piecing together these two loves. Having this flexible, ever-evolving career has another benefit as Sarah and her husband welcomed daughter Ava in September 2009.

 

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0627Greg Hippen – bass

Jazz, opera, classical, R&B, bluegrass, and good ol’ rock’n’roll…You name it, bassist Greg Hippen has probably played it. The Minnesota Opera, “A Prairie Home Companion”, Sky Lark Opera, Vocal Essence, The Wolverines Big Band, Bruce Henry and Patty Peterson are a few of the many artists and venues with whom he has performed throughout a 30-year career in the Twin Cities area.  Greg also manages software development for a Minnesota-based company and is an avid model railroader, incorporating his software skills into his hobby.

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0305Lucia Magney – cello

Lucia Magney is Assistant Principal Cellist of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra. She teaches Cello, Chamber Music and String Methods at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University where she has been a faculty member since 1990. Lucia attended the Bernard Greenhouse Celebration in Greensboro, NC in 2005 and the Midori Community Engagement Seminar at USC in 2007 in support of her work as an artist/teacher. Lucia holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and Manhattan School of Music where she was a student of Bernard Greenhouse. Lucia enjoys kayaking and spending time at her cabin “up north”. She recently earned her Captain’s license for sailing.

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0106Robert McManus – oboe

Robert McManus was born in Bayport, MN where he currently resides with four cats and his mother. When he’s not practicing or teaching the oboe in his studio with its wood burning stove, he enjoys the outdoors and is the volunteer steward of the DNR’s St. Croix Savanna Scientific and Natural Area. This includes family land put into permanent conservation easement. The daily task of wrapping and scraping oboe reeds has blossomed into a marginally profitable reed making business. He is also the 2nd oboe/assistant principal oboe of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra in Sioux Falls, SD. His teachers have included Richard Killmer, Kathryn Greenbank, Rebecca Henderson, Rhadames Angelucci, and Julie Madura.

 

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0226Gail Olszewski – piano

Gail Olszewski, DMA, has played solo and chamber recitals on piano, harpsichord, fortepiano, organ, harmonium and synthesizer in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central America and Australia.  She is a private vocal coach and faculty member of MacPhail Center for Music and on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls.  Some of her more singular musical career highlights include playing for a wedding in a bowling alley and making the finals for organist for the Minnesota North Stars hockey team.  When not somehow involved in music, Gail likes to cook, hike, garden, go to antique shows and stores, and cross country ski.  She really likes the Beatles and world music, Celtic especially.  Favorite foods include potato chips, shrimp, olives and strawberries, and she enjoys English-style ales, wine and single malt.  Gail shares her home with husband Neil and cats Beau and Suzanne.

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0517Joanna Shelton – violin

Joanna Shelton is an Eastman educated freelancer. For her, teaching violin is fostering the DIY movement, “making your own music just has to earn WAY more cosmic points than listening to someone else’s expert studio work”. Her yard is a lawnless cacophony of perennials fighting it out among themselves–Joanna is merely the editor…her kids grew up pretty much the same way. She knits fraternal twin socks (with the help of her cats and dogs). A favorite professional experience is having string quartetted for Theatre de la Jeune Lune’s creative reincarnations of Mozart operas (between ’99 and ’07)…another is the ongoing exploration of famous and little known music on period violin with Lyra Baroque Orchestra..

 

 

LukeStudios-MSC-0436Claudia White – flute

Claudia White currently performs on flute and piccolo with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, The Orlando Philharmonic, The Florida Orchestra and the Sarasota Opera Orchestra which, if you look at a map, makes no sense. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri she has degrees from Wichita State University and Northwestern University. An avid music lover, Claudia likes to spend summers with her sister going to rock concerts. Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen and Keith Urban (yes, country, gasp!) are current favorites. She admits to having too many cds and cookbooks and suffers from a serious dark chocolate addiction. When she is not off racking up frequent flier miles, she enjoys gardening, studying Italian, and working on her cooking website www.idiotskitchen.com. Claudia currently lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband Jim, and the Wonder Cats – Lulu, Gus, & Henry.

 

 

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Larry Zimmerman – trombone

As a kid first learning to play a band instrument, trombonist Larry Zimmerman had little idea he would tour 49 of the 50 states and visit countries on four separate continents with his quintet, the Grammy winning Chestnut Brass Company.  Larry also enjoys working with orchestras in Minneapolis and Duluth, and as a soloist & chamber musician he has presented programs of new music for trombone with piano, organ, tape, film, & other instruments. Larry lives in Minneapolis and is a low brass instructor at St. Olaf College, Bethel University, Gustavus Adolphus College, and the University of St. Thomas.  In his scarce free time, Larry is an avid gardener and runner, and enjoys retreating to his little cabin in the north woods.