What classical music reminds you of the State Fair?

August 11, 2014

St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota State Fair is filled with music, including classical and choral tunes. Here are some of Classical MPR's hosts' music picks:

John Birge

Bernstein Candide Overture with Eiji Oue conducting the Minnesota Orchestra — At my very first State Fair broadcast in 1998, Minnesota Orchestra conductor Eiji Oue stopped by the booth, holding not one baton but two Pronto Pups in his hands. In between bites, he treated the crowd to the story of his first meeting with Leonard Bernstein: Oue was playing piano for a conducting class at Tanglewood. Bernstein came through the door talking loudly. Oue, with his back to the door, didn't realize who this noisy newcomer was, disrupting the class, but was sufficiently irritated to yell "Shut Up!!" Little did Oue know that he was unwittingly talking to his idol!

The State Fair audience loved the story, and the happy ending: Oue and Bernstein nevertheless became good friends.

Steve Staruch

I have three picks:

Short Ride in a fast Machine (John Adams) — is there any other music that describes the Mighty Midway? The Scrambler is my favorite, followed by the Tilt-a-Whirl !

Ride in the Balloon from the movie score The Witches of Eastwick (John Williams) — my wife Naomi and I always take a ride on the … "thingy" that glides across the fair. Good date music!

Grand Canyon Suite (ferde Grofe) — It just sounds like the Fair!

Julie Amacher

Bach: Toccata and Fugue — Last year as I was entering the fairgrounds, I heard Bach's Toccata and Fugue luring victims to the Haunted House. How cool to hear classical music is in the air at the great Minnesota Get together!

Alison Young

Four years ago, I hosted Cantus on the "big stage" at the Fair to kick off their year as Artists in Residence. It was the first time I heard Ysaye Barnwell's "Wanting Memories," which has become a kind of Cantus signature tune. It's so sweet, fulfilling, and within a few minutes I started singing (quietly) along. I no longer can go to the Fair without this song running through my mind.

Kevin O'Connor

When my son was very young, for reasons I now can't recall, I let him watch Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sometime later we were at the Fair strolling through the Midway and Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" was blaring from inside one of the rides — my son instantly identified it and even got the German right! Should I disclose it was the disco version by Deodato? No matter; my son still prefers the orchestra.

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What classical or choral music reminds you of the Minnesota State Fair? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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