Music with Minnesotans: Glynnis Lessing

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
October 10, 2012

St. Paul, Minn. — Glynnis Lessing hasn't unpacked all her boxes since moving home to Northfield this past spring from 30 years away living in Chicago.

Well, a correction: she's unpacked enough to be back at work throwing pots - and to have a portable radio nearby tuned to classical music all day.

Glynnis makes pottery with a dreamy, organic - and often whimsical - feel. After throwing her porcelain pots, she carves into them birds, vines, even squid and the pieces serve functionally, though most of us would prefer to just enjoy basking in their beauty.

What has always been of interest to me with potters in particular is the moving back and forth between the craftsmanship of their work - the wedging and throwing - to the artistic part - the design, the color choices and, for Glynnis, the carving.

And what Glynnis told me is that music is right there with her as she moves from the physical to the intellectual. Rocking out to Renaissance dances played by the Folger Consort help her bang all the air out of the clay, whereas Erik Satie helps her find a place of flow, where the "work" of the creation becomes like play.

And where she makes this art is so Minnesotan - her studio is in her grandfather's milk-house on the family farm. A place where he kept music playing all the time claiming it increased milk production.

Her other grandfather and her father were cellists. Glynnis tells a story of visiting Pablo Casal's home in Spain and being so deeply moved by the soundtrack, she burst into tears. Cello moves her, helps her find the artistic muse and is prominent in her playlist.

Glynnis Lessing's playlist:

Camille Saint-Saens, The Carnival of the Animals: The Swan - Alisa Weilerstein

Johann Sebastian Bach, Cello Suite No. 1: Prelude - Yo-Yo Ma

Mark O'Connor, Appalachia Waltz - Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer

The Clumsy Lovers, Opening Set

Enrique Granados, Spanish Dances: Orientale - Angela Hewitt

Giorgio Mainerio, Sciarazula Marazula - Folger Consort

Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Fantasia on Greensleeves - Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Marriner

Next week, attorney Eric Nilsson joins me. He played the violin, but once he was studying his college, his three professional fiddle playing sisters suggested he make music more of a hobby.

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