Meet Class Notes Artists Silver Spruce Duo

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
November 13, 2013

DULUTH, Minn. — The Silver Spruce Duo is so named to reflect two concepts: the materials of the instruments — silver of Betty Braunstein's flute and spruce wood that makes up the sounding board of Janell Lemire's harp; and the beautiful silver spruces around Duluth, Minn., where the duo is based.

Braunstein and Lemire have years' experience presenting educational performances together through the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's Music To You outreach program. Longtime members of the DSSO, they also play in other ensembles as far as Thunder Bay, Ont., and the Twin Cities, as well as maintaining their own private studios. Silver Spruce Duo also provides entertainment at weddings and private parties, and takes part in recital series.

In the Silver Spruce Duo's educational performances, the audience learns a little bit of everything: music history, stories behind the music, the parts of the instruments and how they function. Braunstein and Lemire take turns explaining their own individual instruments, performing solos so that the students can hear clearly the unique sounds of each instrument. Their duet music covers a range of styles and time periods, from the Renaissance era Theme and Variations on Greensleeves, to an arrangement of Musetta's Waltz; from Puccini's 1895 opera La Bohème, to a beautiful melancholy composition with a traditional Irish flavor called Sweet Molly's Lament by contemporary composer Jennifer Grady. The soothing — and, at times, haunting — sounds of the flute and harp together make it easy to see why these instruments have remained so beloved over the thousands of years that they have existed, and why they enchant children at the schools.

Here is what the members of the Silver Spruce Duo have to say about the value of performing for schools:

"Almost all of music heard today is consumed like most of our food; on the run, pre-packaged, processed and far from its source. It's fun and delectable to cook musical courses up close and personal. I love the 'ah ha' moment when kids realize that beautiful music, like spaghetti, doesn't grow on trees, but it created by real people."-Betty Braunstein, flute

"I enjoy doing these performances because I have a passion for music and teaching. This venue allows me to share both of these [passions] to a very inquisitive, appreciative young audience. I love hearing the "oohs" and "aahs" when I demonstrate a glissando. The positive effect and the fascination the harp brings to all ages, in return, makes me feel good to be able to perform and share myself through music."-Janell Lemire, harp


  • Auguste Vern: Nocturne for Flute and Harp, Op. 11 — I. Adagio
  • Auguste Vern: Nocturne for Flute and Harp, Op.11 — II. Allegro agitato
  • Michel Rondeau: Suite No. 12 "Flute and Harp" — I. Joyeusement et sans presser
  • Michel Rondeau: Suite No. 12 "Flute and Harp" — III. Ballade lente


  • Stowe Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Homecroft Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Laura MacArthur Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Lester Park Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Piedmont Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Lakewood Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Meyers-Wilkins Elementary — Duluth, Minn.
  • Minnehaha Elementary — Two Harbors, Minn.
  • Churchill Elementary — Cloquet, Minn.
  • Washington Elementary — Cloquet, Minn.
  • North Shore Community School — Duluth, Minn.
  • Sawtooth Mountain Elementary — Grand Marais, Minn.

About the Classical MPR Class Notes: Artists program this year

Classical MPR is now in its fifth year of welcoming in-school Artists who perform, teach and speak about music during visits to schools throughout the state of Minnesota. The Artists are selected because of the quality of their musicianship and their interest in promoting music education.

The 2013-14 school year features seven different Artists:

  • Lyz Jaakola: Musician and educator who is an enrolled member of the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Ojibwe located outside of Cloquet, Minn.
  • Silver Spruce Duo: Flute and Harp Duo, who are members of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra
  • Dolce Wind Quintet: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and French Horn ensemble from the Twin Cities made up of educators involved in several local and regional ensembles
  • Artaria String Quartet: Twin Cities-based string quartet who run the Artaria Chamber Music School and Stringwood Music Camp
  • Minneapolis Guitar Quartet: Renowned classical guitar quartet with repertoire ranging from Renaissance to Contemporary and European to Latin American
  • Vecchione/Erdahl Duo: Twin Cities-based Oboe and Double Bass duo with many years experience educating children with their Pages of Music programs
  • Odelia Trio: Newly formed Piano Trio (piano, violin and cello) based in Rochester, Minn., made up of members of the Rochester Chamber Music Society and Rochester Symphony Orchestra

Over the next few months, these seven Artists will give an educational music performance to more than 40 schools in the Twin Cities, Bemidji, Duluth and Rochester areas. The performance includes information about their respective instruments, and the style, technique, history and traditions related to the music that they present.

These performances are supported by curricular materials designed by Classical MPR's Curriculum Specialist that are given to the music teachers in advance for use in their classrooms. Students at participating schools receive an MPR-produced compilation CD featuring performances by the artists, allowing students to hear the different approaches and styles of music.

Classical MPR's goal with these in-school performances is to create authentic and transformative experiences for young pupils that will inspire their creative pursuits, and be a meaningful addition to what they are already learning from their music teachers.

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