Music with Minnesotans: Kevin Strauss

February 15, 2012
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Rochester, Minn. — What does floating down a beautiful Minnesota river sound like? Well to Kevin Strauss, it sounds like Dvorak's New World Symphony.

Kevin is all about a particular river - the Mighty Zumbro. His job is to help define that word "mighty." Kevin is the Education Coordinator for the Zumbro Watershed Partnership in Rochester.

One of his recent projects in conservation is called Slow the Flow. It's a campaign that encourages rural and urban residents to capture rainwater and let it soak into their landscape, rather than just letting water run into the street and dump into storm sewers.

When I listen to Dvorak's New World, I can imagine floating on the Zumbro, through small rapids during the fast parts and on the low, wide river curves during the slow parts.
- Kevin Strauss

Classical music too "filters" into Kevin's landscape. He listens nearly all the time at his desk or whether at his desk. It helps him stay focused at work especially when things slow down right after lunch.

Kevin is a former story-teller and shares traditional folk-takes - many from Dvorak's own region in Eastern Europe - and refashions them for today's audiences. He loves that Dvorak's New World Symphony has a kind of storyline to it - or at least a mission as Dvorak set out to express the beauty and energy of North America.

When Kevin listens to the symphony he imagines floating on the Zumbro, through small rapids during the fast parts and on the low, wide river curves during the slow parts.

But his connection doesn't stop there. He feels that in some ways, Dvorak's symphony is similar to his work with the Zumbro Watershed Partnership. The small river conservation organization - three part-time staff, in borrowed office space - has taken on the mission of cleaning up and protecting a little-known Midwestern river. He knows that people won't care about or take care of a river, unless they've seen it. And since not everyone is going to canoe the river since it's too shallow in most parts for motor boats, he needs to use photos, videos, and someday music, to help people know about and care for the Zumbro.

Perhaps Dvorak's Symphony will become a kind of call to arms for the conservation of this beautiful river!

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Kevin Strauss's playlist:

Antonin Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" - London/Kersesz

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Next week actor/singer Bradley Greenwald joins me. He says that if 'Hooked on the Classics' hadn't made it to the pop charts when he was in highs school, he may never have found classical at all!

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