Written in 2016 for the Century Chamber Orchestra, Of Lakes and Legends is a suite of four pieces depicting stories and historic locations in White Bear Lake, Minnesota – the city where Century College, home of the Century Chamber Orchestra, is also located.
Legend of the White Bear (Manitou Island). There are several versions of the Native American legend that gave White Bear Lake its name. In the version portrayed here, a Sioux maiden (the daughter of the Chief) and a Chippewa brave fall in love. Upon learning that her father is planning war against the Chippewa, the maiden goes to the brave to warn him. The brave goes to the Sioux chief to ask for peace and the hand of the maiden; the Chief responds that the Chippewa will have to perform a brave deed first. When the lovers next meet, on a moonlit night on Manitou Island, the brave sees a great white bear attacking the maiden. He springs to her rescue and fights the bear. The maiden runs to her village for help. When she, the Chief and the other Sioux return, they see the brave strike a mortal blow to the white bear – but he too has suffered mortal wounds, and both sink to the ground, dead. As the Chief at last gives his blessing to the Chippewa for his brave deed and sacrifice, the spirits of the brave and the white bear rise up to the stars. “It is said that even today, when night falls, the spirits of the bear and the brave wander the island eternally in search of each other…”
Ride on the Rails (Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Depot). The arrival of the railroad in White Bear Lake in 1868 was a significant factor in the development of the city as a resort town. The grand opening of the line from St. Paul to White Bear Lake took place on Sept. 10, 1868. Ride on the Rails recreates this inaugural trip: the anticipation of the passengers, the scenic countryside through which the train traveled, and the excitement of the gala celebration that greeted the travelers upon their arrival at the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Depot.
Parlor Recital (Fillebrown House). Built in 1879, the Fillebrown House has a rich history in the social life of downtown White Bear Lake. Originally a summer cottage, in 1920 it became the year-round residence of the Fillebrown family. In it, Helen Fillebrown (1884-1977) operated a number of enterprises over the years: a tearoom, a nursery, and a boarding house. Miss Fillebrown was an accomplished pianist as well, giving piano lessons and hosting numerous recitals on the Steinway grand piano in the parlor. (Conductor Elliot Wilcox, as well as other members of this orchestra, studied piano with Helen Fillebrown herself.) Parlor Recital seeks to capture the sounds and moods of these intimate concerts.
Regatta (White Bear Yacht Club). White Bear Lake has been home to many influential boatmakers, including A.E. Leaman, Gus Amundson, and perhaps most famously, John O. Johnson, of Johnson Boat Works. In 1900 Johnson invented the scow, a racing sailboat designed for extreme speeds. Regatta depicts the speed of the scow and the spirit of the boat races still hosted by the White Bear Yacht Club.
Program notes by Shirley Mier.
Web: “History of White Bear Lake” (www.whitebearlake.org)
Vadnais, Cynthia, Looking Back at White Bear Lake: A Pictorial History of the White Bear Lake Area, White Bear Stereoptics Co., 2008.
Dr. Shirley Mier resides in the Twin Cities and teaches at Century College in White Bear Lake, MN. Theatre works include children’s musicals commissioned from Stages Theatre, scores for Shakespeare plays, and music for Greek tragedies. Concert band and orchestra works include commissions from Minnesota school and community ensembles. Her band and theatre works have been published by Alfred Music, Grand Mesa Music, Dramatic Publishing, and Concord Theatricals. Her country/bluegrass band, the Hell-Burnin’ Sinners, has been active in the Twin Cities music scene since forming in 2019. Dr. Mier earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2005.