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Chamber music of a different color

By Staff | Mar 14, 2009

Frost native Rolf Erdahl, above, with his wife and musical partner, Carrie Vecchione, with their musical instruments.

‘For members only’ will not be the case at the Blue Earth Valley Concert Associations next performance featuring the Vecchione/Erdahl Duo on Mar. 22.

“This concert is different,” says Frost native and performer Rolf Erdahl. “It is a homecoming concert for me, so tickets will be available for the public at the door.”

Rolf Erdahl and his wife, Carrie Vecchione, comprise the one-of-a-kind chamber group. They combine the delightful and intriguing sounds of the oboe and bass in their performance.

“It’s chamber music of a different color that grabs your ear as the ink dries and sends you out the door humming a new tune,” says Erdahl of their music.

Rolf is the son of the late Arlen Erdahl of Frost who served as Minnesota’s Secretary of State.

“I grew up in Frost and went to school there through the fifth grade,” says Erdahl. “Because of my father’s position, our family moved to the Cities, but I still have a strong sense of home whenever we get down here.”

Rolf’s cousin, Jim Erdahl, is currently working the 1870s homestead farm site, keeping it in the Erdahl name.

After graduating from Sibley High School in St. Paul, it was only natural for Rolf to follow in the footsteps of his parents, so he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, just as they had. His mother had studied music there and later taught general music (1957-1959) in the Blue Earth school system under her maiden name, Ellen Syrdahl.

Upon graduating from St. Olaf, Erdahl continued his musical studies at the University of Minnesota and earned his doctorate at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

Among his most memorable experiences were the two years he lived in Norway playing with the Bergen Philharmonic and also the time spent in Hawaii performing with the Honolulu Symphony.

Currently, the bass player subs for the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Opera. He also teaches bass one day weekly at Luther College as well as at Gustavus Adolphus College where one of his pupils is Blue Earth graduate Mike Nesbit.

Previously, Erdahl taught bass at the University of Manitoba, Ball State and Wichita State Universities, the Sewanee Music Festival and the North Carolina Governor’s School.

Erdahl and his wife first performed as a duo in 1999. A teacher at the MacPhail Center for Music, Carrie plays the oboe/English horn in accompaniment to Rolf’s double bass.

“We discovered very little had been written for the oboe/bass combination we played. Fortunately, we had good, prolific composer friends who penned for us some very listenable music. We continue to find new composers and performing opportunities,” says Erdahl.

Through the years, the duo has performed throughout the country. They have presented recitals in New York, Philadelphia, Louisiana, Illinois and Texas.

Residents of Apple Valley, Erdahl and his wife also perform outreach work to schools through their ‘Pages of Music with Rolf and Carrie.’ This is an educational program which they share primarily at the elementary school level, but have also performed for high school and college students. ‘Pages of Music’ brings classical music alive for young audiences. It is a blend of musical performance and children’s literature.

“We’re busy trying to be busy,” admits Erdahl. Because of this, they seek new venues in which to share their music.

Through the grapevine, Erdahl heard about the Blue Earth Valley Concert Association series. With additional information he learned from his former Frost fourth grade teacher, Connie Helgeson, the Vecchione/Erdahl Duo applied and auditioned to be part of the 2008-2009 series.

After performing in Blue Earth, the duo will be presenting their ‘Pages of Music’ program to the elementary students in Blue Earth and Winnebago on March 23.

Future plans for the Frost native, Rolf Erdahl, include recording later this spring one of the pieces they will be playing at the Blue Earth Valley Concert Association’s program.

As the Vecchione/Erdahl Duo, they believe strongly in the power of music to enchant and uplift. It is their desire to bring this to their recital at the Blue Earth Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Mar. 22. Open to the public, the recital begins at 3 p.m.