Music with Minnesotans: Christine Wehling

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
November 2, 2011
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St. Paul, Minn. — Christine Wehling is from France and has lived in Northfield for the past decade.

She works in a rarified form of horse training. It's called Ecole d'Equitation and is a kind of ancient education for the aristocracy where everything had to be beautiful. Their training included ballet and music, but also riding a horse in the most elegant style possible.

Music for Christine helps her connect with her horses - she tells me that she needs to get out of the sounds, the distractions, and the pressure of the barn and into the horse's head where she becomes the brain and the horse the legs.

Her first choice on her playlist was anything by Ravel. And to hear her describe the colors of impressionist music is so lovely with her accent and intuitive sense of beauty. We listen to a piece not often played on Classical MPR, the Rhapsodie Espagnole.

Christine compares her work with classical music and the term often used - usually in a derogatory way - elitist. She says that this is not bad. Practice, sensitivity and a connectedness to the power of a creature - in the case of horse riding - or getting inside a composer's head - are paramount.

All that work can allow an artist to live in the space between the technique - to breathe the art, rather than how difficult it is. She teaches in a manner that is very French - more about aesthetics than science. It takes time and patience, but Christine says the outcome is full of beauty and worth the time it takes.

For musicians and horse trainers there is also a loneliness. You can hear this quiet space in her second choice, the Bell Aria from Delibe's Lakme.

Her final choice is the slow movement from Bach's Double Concerto, a chance for what she describes as the "soul" of the players to be observed.

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Christine Wehling's playlist:

Maurice Ravel, Rhapsodie Espagnole - Dutoit/Montreal

Leo Delibes, Lakme: Air des Clochettes - Natalie Dessay

JS Bach, Double Concerto - Simon Standage/Collegium Musicum 90

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Next week my guest is Scott Seal. He drives the 21 bus and is a classical music addict, though he can't listen while driving. That's when he works out his comedy routines in his head - and we'll hear plenty of those!

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