Turning a small Minnesota town into an arts destination

Posted on: July 20, 2017

“Dave Obst was fighting a sweltering afternoon as he established a line of lawn chairs in Winona’s Lake Park,” writes Graydon Royce in Sunday’s (7/16) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “ ‘This is the highlight of the year for us,’ said Obst, the first person to establish a viewing beachhead for the opening night concert July 6 of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival [by the Minnesota Orchestra]…. Obst is just the kind of person Winona needs to stoke the arts festivals and destinations that are shaping a new identity for this southeast Minnesota river town…. By the time the [Minnesota Orchestra] played the ‘1812 Overture,’ a cool pink sunset was framed by the surrounding bluff country. ‘This is one of our most appreciative audiences,’ said associate conductor Roderick Cox. ‘It’s the only festival we play out in the open, uncovered.’ ” In addition to the Minnesota Orchestra, musicians and ensembles featured at the Beethoven Festival include the Dover Quartet, Boston Brass, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In Winona, a town of 27,000, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and Great River Shakespeare Festival, together with the Beethoven Festival, “sell roughly 50,000 tickets a year [and] the Beethoven Festival sells about 5,000 of its 5,200-ticket capacity.”

Posted July 20, 2017

Pictured: At Lake Park in Winona, Minnesota, Roderick Cox leads the Minnesota Orchestra during this summer’s Minnesota Beethoven Festival. Photo by Jeff Wheeler