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About time for some music

After the pandemic in 2020, BEVCA’s concert season ready to start up for 2021

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Oct 3, 2021

The Blue Earth Valley Concert Association, a non-profit organization which is now embarking upon its 45th season, has one central goal: to make beautiful music accessible to all.

“In short, the mission is to bring quality music and artists to the area at an affordable cost,” explains Gail Ottesen, a member of the association’s board of directors.

“We want these concerts to be accessible to all,” she adds.

The music which Ottesen and the rest of the Blue Earth Valley Concert Association hope to bring to the community is varied.

“The artists we bring here are artists who are performing all over the world,” Ottesen says.

Apart from variety, however, the association also seeks artists who, above all, will create a captivating experience for audience members.

“One of our criteria is that artists be very engaging,” Ottesen explains. She hopes this goal will succeed in drawing in as many community members as possible.

The Blue Earth Valley Concert Association is based in Faribault County. However, Ottesen shares it reaches far beyond those borders.

“We have patrons who come from 17 different communities,” Ottesen says. She has a theory as to why the concert series has such a wide draw.

“We have a wonderful venue,” Ottesen shares regarding the concerts’ location at the Performing Arts Center at Blue Earth Area High School. “The parking is free, and it is totally handicapped accessible. Artists comment on the venue all the time.”

“It is very comfortable, and there’s not a bad seat in the house,” she concludes.

Blue Earth Area High School’s Performing Arts Center will see an exciting array of artists during the association’s upcoming season.

“We will kick off with an acappella group called Ball in the House,” Ottesen shares. “They perform soulful acappella.”

The Boston-based group, comprised of five men, will perform on Tuesday, Oct. 5 of this week at 7 p.m.

The next concert was originally going to be a performance by a group called Janoska, but Ottesen shares they had to update the program as Janoska, who are based in Europe, were no longer able to travel to the United States due to COVID restrictions.

“We’re going to get Intersection Trio,” Ottesen clarifies. “They are a string ensemble, a quality group.” Intersection Trio will perform at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 of this year.

The season’s artists will also include David Shannon, an Irish singer who has been performing a variety of pop and classical tunes for 25 years. Shannon will grace Blue Earth Area High School’s Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8.

Also arriving next spring will be Barron Ryan, a “classical-meets-cool pianist,” according to Ottesen, and Miss Myra and the Moonshiners, a Minnesota-based vintage jazz combo group.

Ryan will perform at 7 p.m. on March 18, while Miss Myra and the Moonshiners will take the stage at the same time on April 18.

Ottesen shares that in fact, patrons will have the opportunity to see Miss Myra’s group twice if they so desire.

Fairmont, which has its own concert association, has partnered with the Blue Earth Valley Concert Association to offer patrons twice as many opportunities to attend concerts.

“Fairmont has given us reciprocity,” Ottesen explains. This means patrons who purchase season tickets for the Blue Earth Valley Concert Association will also be granted access to any and all of the Fairmont Concert Association’s programming.

Miss Myra and the Moonshiners will be performing in Fairmont Junior Senior High School’s Performing Arts Center on Dec. 5 of this year, so super-fans can have double-the-fun at both concerts.

Ottesen shares the association offers exclusively season tickets, rather than offering tickets to individual performances.

“Financially, we need to know what our budget for the season is going to be,” explains Ottesen.

However, affordability is one of the association’s central goals, and their tickets, which offer access to a combined total of nine concerts in Blue Earth and Fairmont, are well worth the cost.

Adults can purchase a season ticket for $50. However, Ottesen says, “Students can come to five concerts for $10 if they get a ticket.”

Ottesen also recommends family season passes, which cost $100 for access to the entire concert series for the whole family.

She notes, “You can share tickets with some one else,” which may come in handy to those who have to miss a scheduled concert.

Ottesen outlines several COVID precautions the association is taking to ensure the safety of community members who attend their events.

“Our board has worked with the Allied Concert Series out of the Cities to book artists,” Ottesen shares. “All of the artists are fully vaccinated.”

She continues, “The artists travel together in a little pod.”

In terms of COVID regulations, Ottesen explains, “We will abide by what the school has in place. Right now, masks are not required, but that may change.”

She adds, “We’re going to encourage groups to stay with their group and spread out.”

Ottesen concludes, “We want our patrons to feel safe, and we want our artists to feel safe in our community.”

Ottesen hopes to see increased community involvement as the new season dawns.

She shares, “We do have patrons who are generous by donating extra money.”

The association was recently also fortunate enough to receive a grant through the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Nonetheless, Ottesen ultimately seeks more diverse community involvement at future events.

“I would love to see more youth being exposed to quality music,” Ottesen says. “Just to see a professional perform and know these are people who travel all over the world, and they are right here in our community.”

Ottesen receives much joy from watching these incredible performances each year.

“I am most excited to get back to live music,” she shares. “I am most excited to see patrons come through the doors again.”

“It is great we can offer this in rural Minnesota,” Ottesen continues. “We just want to keep it going.”

She concludes, “I believe in this. I think this is good for our area.”