Music with Minnesotans: Ann Bancroft
January 5, 2011
St. Paul, Minn. —
Ann Bancroft makes shattering female stereotypes her modus operandi.
She was the first woman to reach the North Pole on foot and by dog sled; the first woman to ski across Greenland, and she led the first women's team to reach the South Pole by skis.
This amazing and inspirational woman has been featured in the book "Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century" and has been inducted in the National Woman's Hall of Fame.
And Ann tells me that classical music is very dear to her life.
While she does not take music with her on expeditions - being plugged in can be dangerous if your partner falls in a crevasse and you can't hear a cry for help - she hears music in her head while in these quietest places one earth, where only the wind, the shushing of her skis and her breathe are what she can hear.
Actually the beauty of the white emptiness begs for a kind of soundtrack. Ann tells me the first thing she desires upon returning from a 100-day polar expedition is to get re-charged by listening to a Vivaldi Concerto or one of Copland's pieces that convey a great expanse.
There is one time in her work, however, that Ann Bancroft gets plugged in. This is when she is on the eve of an expedition and preparing for the physical rigors of dragging a 250-pound sled.
Near her home in the St. Croix Valley, Ann attaches a harness to herself with three tractor tires - weighing roughly the same as her sled. She then proceeds to drag this contraption through the woods - grunting, sweating, and banging along while listening to one of the most energized pieces in all classical literature on her headphones - the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story."
When the day is done - Ann's speaking engagement fulfilled, plans for the next expedition are well underway and her work coaching young people is finished - Ann is drawn to classical music in a very private way, by pulling out her guitar and making her own music.
Ann Bancroft's playlist:
Peter and the Wolf, Sergei Prokofiev - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Andre Previn
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein - New York Philharmonic/Bernstein
Concerto for Two Mandolins, Antonio Vivaldi - Pepe and Angel Romero/Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields
Fanfare for the Common Man, Aaron Copland - Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue
Check out more from Music with Minnesotans:
Linda Z. Andrews,
Philip Brunelle, Mayor Chris Coleman, Michael Pearce Donley, Joe Dowling, Dr. Victoria Elmer, William Gurstelle, Karen Hansen, Steve Heitzeg, Stuart Loughridge, Stephen Paulus, Lois Quam, Mayor RT Rybak, General Larry Shellito, The Reverend Spenser Simrell, and Dale Warland.
Join me next Wednesday when my guest is master bow maker Matt Wehling. Though he helps create the sound of some of the finest string players in the world, Matt is a bit of a late-comer to classical music and listens with a super sensitive ear.