This past weekend we had a special family getaway to Minneapolis that included attending the MN Orchestra's Family Christmas Concert Sleigh Ride on Sunday afternoon.
I was blessed enough to WIN 6 free tickets in early October, after trying to purchase them in August, to find them sold out for all nine performances - and was placed on a cancellation waiting list. I was incredibly disappointed when I thought we would be unable to attend, then was elated when I received an email several weeks later notifying me of winning FREE tickets - it was certainly a "God thing", because I NEVER win anything... ever - and the email was discovered at the end of a particularly challenging day. I felt it was a direct gift from Him to me to lift my spirits and remind me he cares about even the little things that matter to us.
Justin, MJ, and Fawn spent the weekend with a lovely foster care couple here in the Brainerd area that have a horse ranch (40 total) and 5 dogs. This is an older couple with adult children who adore kids. Their home was so decked out in Christmas decor I was even amazed! The kids of course had an absolute fabulous time and are asking when they can visit them again...
Meanwhile, our now "small" family of six set out in the seemingly empty 12 passenger van to Minneapolis where we spent the weekend in the home of our good friends Jim & Jan Hiner. We never tire of their company and our kids adore them... plus Jan makes the best vegan food - how can you go wrong? We were honored to help Jan celebrate her 52nd b-day on Sunday morning with a lovely vegan brunch that Jim did the majority of the cooking for.
While there, we attended the church where Jim is the pastor and got to enjoy his sermon, we also spent time shopping Saturday evening at a fun toy store, a fabulous book store, Maegers and Quinn, that I highly recommend, and the Whole Foods Market and Byerly grocery stores for fun food.
On Sunday we attended the concert which was full to capacity, and were in the fifth row on the floor! Great seats! We have enjoyed the Fargo Symphony Orchestra which is very good on many occasion, and also the Heartland Symphony that travels through our current area.. BUT I must say that the MN Orchestra is without a doubt exceptional - so much so, they were just nominated for a Grammy Award for their CD release of Beethoven's 9th.
The concert was extremely enjoyable and it's theme was sleigh ride songs from around the globe throughout history. There were also other pieces intermingled within and amazing performances by a ballerina from the MN Dance Theater and dancers performing to a Russian Dance, as well as enormous puppets (the kind with people inside of them), and the String Students from MacPhail Center for Music joined in on the last piece (Beethoven's 9th). As a former Suzuki method family, it was amazing to see between 80-100 children of all ages play the violin beautifully alongside the Grammy nominated orchestra! Inspiring!
All of us enjoyed the entire concert immensely, little Ruby was absolutely transfixed the entire time. Following the concert we ate at a pizza kitchen, then hit a coffee house and savored delicious cups of hot minty cocoa (w/soy) topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy canes. Can you say... kids gotta BUZZ????
Then the journey home - listening to Christmas songs all the way...
"oh what fun it is to ride in a.... great big empty van! Hey!"
Notes about the concert:
Sleigh rides guided by many composers will help you travel from one country to the next. In Russia, you'll find highlights from The Nutcracker. In Germany, watch as In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre brings to life the “Evening Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel. Celebrate the New Year as they do in Japan, with the stirring finale to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring a “chorus” of young violinists.
December 9th, 2:00 Orchestra Hall
Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride
Sergei Prokofiev Troika, from Lieutenant Kijé Suite
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Selections from The Nutcracker Suite
Miniature Overture • March
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy* • Trépak (Russian Dance)*
Minnesota Dance Theatre*
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Sleigh Ride, from Three German Dances
Englebert Humperdinck Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomime, from Hansel and Gretel
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
Johann Strauss, Sr. Radetzky March
arr. Percy Faith/orch. Lee Norris Brazilian Sleigh Bells
Ludwig van Beethoven Finale, from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Choral
String Students from MacPhail Center for Music