Music with Minnesotans: Joan Potter

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
February 1, 2012
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St. Paul, Minn. — Full disclosure: Joan Potter is my best friend.

It started when we met at church and then graduated to the two of us standing in every theatre rush line in town practically seven nights a week, then that graduated to her sharing poetry with me and my choral composer husband, who quickly stole Joan away to work on writing songs together.

She is a former flutist and pianist and listens to Classical MPR all the time. I often get e-mails when a certain piece strikes her.

When I met Joan Potter, she was completing a thirty-year tenure as a teacher of theatre and English. Her last gig was at Wayzata High School directing about four shows per year. Joan tells me that classical music often provides a kind of backdrop in her mind when she plans the flow of a play. The music's structure, form, and line all help her concentrate on the bigger picture.

Joan is an avid traveler. She took her productions on tour throughout the UK three different times as well as bringing the first high school group to perform opera at the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

But travel didn't stop there. Joan created and directed an original show representing the State of Wisconsin at the American Festival in Chiba City, Japan. And most recently went on an extended hiking/volunteer-work trip to Peru.

Retired now, Joan is incredibly busy continuing to do staging for Minnesota Opera's Project Opera and summer opera camp, singing in two choirs, and writing poetry and song lyrics. As well - and this was news to me since Joan has only just decided to make this resolution public - she's working on a multi-genre novel that she'll set in a small farming community on the Minnesota/South Dakota border in the 1950's - all this mimicking her own early life growing up in Canby, Minnesota.

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Joan Potter's playlist:

Maurice Durufle, Requiem: Sanctus - Atlanta/Shaw

Samuel Barber, Knoxville: Summer 1915 - Dawn Upshaw/Orchestra of St. Luke's

Maurice Ravel, Mother Goose Ballet: Le Jardin Feerique - SPCO/Wolff

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2 - Rachmaninoff/Philadelphia

Giacomo Puccini, Turandot: Nessun Dorma - Pavarotti/Vienna

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Next week Reid McLean is my guest. He's the Director of Major Gifts at Macalester College, but he's been chomping at the bit to share some pieces on-air that we just don't play nearly enough!

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