Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

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Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Songs of Hope to perform at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet


For the first time in its twenty-eight year history, the global Songs of Hope performance company will be performing in Cloquet, presenting a single, afternoon concert at the Encore Performing Arts Center, on Saturday, July 20, at 2:00 p.m. The award-winning Songs of Hope concert showcases the talents of young artists ranging in age from 9 to 21 coming to Minnesota from countries all across the globe, including Vietnam, China, Germany, Italy, England, Finland, Turkey, Jamaica, Guatemala, and USA. Audiences of all ages are welcome to come enjoy a high-energy, free concert.

The Songs of Hope concert tour takes place every summer and over the years, the project has earned a well-deserved reputation for lively, upbeat shows. The concert’s newest installment in 2019 promises to live up to this reputation. With close to ninety youth and adults on stage, the company will present a delightful mix of international songs from all the countries of the performers. Mixed with the global music will be a wide variety of U.S. songs chosen to be perfect entertainment on a warm summer’s night.

“For the U.S. music, we’re focusing somewhat on songs with timely messages,” says artistic director, Jeanne Junge. “One of the themes we’re exploring is about a world grappling with issues of immigration and how to meet the needs of refugees and others in search of a better life.”

Adds program director, Tom Surprenant, “There have always been refugees and immigrants in the United States, so this is not a new issue but suddenly it’s a hot issue again. For our audiences, we have some songs from our past and present that explore the subject in different ways.”

In addition to covering serious themes, Junge and Surprenant certainly plan to offer up some fun. “It’s summer, after all,” laughs Surprenant, “and this is a concert for kids of all ages. We all know Minnesota audiences like to have fun, right? So be ready when we start singing about potato chips and pies.”

Songs of Hope is heading north from its home in St. Paul thanks to an Arts Access Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board through a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Once Junge and Surprenant were sure of the funding, they immediately started thinking about cities to add to their tour list.

Explains Junge, “In the early years of the project back in the Nineties, we traveled north a couple of times to perform at festivals in Duluth. Unfortunately, we were never able to stop and perform in the cities on the way. With the Arts Access grant, we have a chance to show our global kids some more of Minnesota while sharing their music with local audiences.”

Adds Surprenant, “When we started looking online for local partners, we found the website for the Encore Performing Arts Center. We sent an email and to our delight, we quickly received a warm, welcoming reply from Joel Soukkala, with the County Seat Theatre Company. We were very happy to hear from Joel about performing in Cloquet.”


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