Music with Minnesotans: Lois Quam

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
November 17, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — Lois Quam is a mother of three, the wife of politician Matt Entenza, the head of her own international company and a very powerful woman - one of American's 50 most powerful according to Fortune Magazine in 2006.

She also loves classical music and shared her playlist with me that included a little Grieg, Bach and six symphonies by Shostakovich!

She first came upon Shostakovich when visiting St. Petersburg in the 1980s and used her allotment of rubles to buy a whole pile of records - mostly of Shostakovich.

Another experience was when visiting the Monument to Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in St. Petersburg that memorializes those who died - and survived - the 900-day Nazi siege. The symphony "Leningrad" by Shostakovich is the soundtrack at this memorial played on a perpetual tape loop.

I use classical music to give me energy. It's there to inspire me. It's reliable and infuses me with energy.
- Lois Quam

Lois Quam is also attracted to a more light-hearted piece by another Russian composer, Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov. When her son picked up the trombone in grade school, Lois - the good mom - bought bunches of CD's of the great trombonists for him to listen to and came across an unlikely - and amazing - recording of the first trombone of the New York Philharmonic Joseph Alessi playing "The Flight of the Bumblebee." It is a wonder to behold!

Lois Quam is a child of Norwegian immigrants. She speaks Norwegian and has even named her company after the town her ancestors are from - Tysvar.

Her childhood was infused with Norwegian customs, food, art and music including plenty of Edvard Grieg. 'Solveig's Song' from Peer Gynt is a particular favorite as it almost perfectly depicts the cold and harsh - yet spectacularly beautiful - land that the Norwegian immigrants left to come here and many wistfully longed for.

Also on her playlist is the cellist Yo-Yo Ma who Lois looks to as a model leader, someone who is particularly skilled at drawing out the talents of those he works with and playing on their strengths. While he could certainly put the spotlight on himself, he instead uses his great power to bring up the level of everyone around him.

Ms. Quam says she can toss some of her management books just watching this great leader's success!


Lois Quam's Playlist:

Johann Sebastian Bach, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring - Yo-Yo Ma, cello

Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad" - Leonard Bernstein/CSO

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Flight of the Bumblebee - Christian Lindberg, trombone

Edvard Grieg, Peer Gynt "Solveig's Song" - Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue


Check out more on the "Music with Minnesotans" series:

Mayor Chris Coleman, Classical Music in the OR, General Larry Shellito, Joe Dowling, William Gurstelle, The Reverend Spenser Simrell, Karen Hansen, Linda Z. Andrews and Stuart Loughridge .


Join me next week when Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak shares the classical music he'd take along if stranded on a desert island.

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