Musicians of all kinds take to the trees at Belwin
From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on August 14 and 15, 2021, a diverse group of instrumentalists and vocalists will perform as part of Music in the Trees, a two-day outdoor event on the grounds near the Belwin Education Center. There will be a fully-accessible performance on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., including ADA seating, and ASL and Hmong-English translation.
Curated by Belwin’s Program Director Susan Haugh, and first held in 2019, Music in the Trees was envisioned as a way to draw attention to the health of a beloved pine grove undergoing restoration. With the pines as their inspiration, artists perform from tree stands 16 feet above the ground. Attendees sit at the base of the performance spaces or enjoy the sounds of the musicians as they explore 4 miles of trails that weave through woodland, prairie, and wetland.
This year’s performers each have a deep connection to nature, a love of improvisation, and a sense of adventure. No two performances will be the same.
Music in the Trees 2021 Performers
Hillary Lor. Hilary is a Hmong flutist, performing through a partnership with the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT). Hillary has played the flute for over 10 years. The flute has become her voice to express her deepest thoughts and emotions to touch the heart of others. Although the Western Flute is her main instrument, she is currently exploring flutes from around the world such as the Hulusi. Hillary is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and has performed for numerous community events. Learn more about Hillary on her Facebook page.
Celestials. Celestials is a group of Hmong dancers, performing through a partnership with the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT).
Jason Thao. Jason is a well-known Hmong singer, songwriter and guitar player in the Twin Cities. Jason’s original Hmong songs are beloved and and played at many family functions because they resonate and connect so deeply with people. He is performing at Music in the Trees through a partnership with the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT). Learn more about Jason on Facebook.
Dave Mehling. is a Minnesota-based songwriter, performer and educator. Most recently he released Tired Fruit, an album of ambient compositions, and Beach Boy, a smorgasbord of musical styles ranging from folk and electronic to drone and avant-garde. For Music in the Trees, Dave will perform on a pair of modified autoharps: one for the performer and one for the audience in an effort to spark a musical conversation between the surrounding nature, listener, and artist. Learn more at davemehling.com.
Diane Miller and JG Everest. Diane and JG have been collaborating since 2017 when they first met in deVon Russell Gray’s dVRG project with Davu Seru. Diane (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist/musician. Since moving to Minneapolis from Fargo in 2018, Diane has quickly become a fixture in the Twin Cities’ music scene. She’s a 2020-2021 McKnight Music Fellow, a talent buyer for Icehouse, an MMC board member, and an active performing/recording artist as the front of the local hip-hop band D Mills & The Thrills. Diane is currently working on a six-song EP featuring a different Minnesota producer on each track. Learn more on her Facebook page. JG (he/him) is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Minneapolis, for whom improvisation and outdoor, site-specific projects are the cornerstones of his artistic practice. He is a 2019 McKnight Composers Fellow. Learn more at jgeverest.com.
Izzy and Squill. Izzy and Squill just want to bring you peace. Ride the wave lengths and listen to two humans who have been playing together for over five years! With influences from funk to soul (and even the Eagles!), you’ll hear a beautiful combination of voice, ukulele and bass meld together. Listen to their music here.
Isabel Dammann & Mikaela Marget. Isabel Dammann (she/her) is a Minneapolis-based classical musician who plays the violin and fiddle, and teaches. Isabel plays fiddle in the band Sprig of That, a acoustic folk trio comprised of violin, guitar, and tabla. Her other main project is Lady Spruce, an Americana folk band. Isabel holds a B.M in violin and a B.A. in geology from Lawrence University. Listen to Sprig of That here. Mikaela Marget (they/them) is a cellist and teacher based in Minneapolis. Their focus is new classical, folk, improvisational, and experimental music. Mikaela is a founding member of the Minneapolis duo Heliopsis, alongside musician Nyttu Chongo. This duo performs original works for various sub-Saharan African instruments, cello, and voice. Mikaela holds a B.M. in cello performance from Lawrence University. Learn more about them here. Isabel and Mikaela met at Lawrence University where they began experimenting with non-classical musical styles. Seven years later, they are still making music together! They play improvised folk, classical, and experimental music. Since performing at Music in the Trees in 2019, they’ve played at the Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis Fringe Festival, and the Warming House.
Laura Levinson and Danny Lentz. Laura (they/them/zey/zeyer), who also goes by Ohr, feels most at home in motion. Zey call on the magic of queer Jewish diasporism to remind us that love in transit still has its roots in the earth. We belong to the land: ani l’dodi v’dodi li. Ohr has been performing and creating work in Minneapolis for the past 8 years with Sami Pfeffer, Wild Conspiracy, Marcus Young, Aniccha Arts, BareBones Puppets, and other beloved collaborators. They are a 2019 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the MN State Arts Board. Watch them perform here. Danny has played violin since he was 6 years old, and performs and records competently in many of the genres he grew up listening to. “If I can feel it, I can play it,” he often says. He also enjoys composing on Ableton and playing guitar. In his free time, he can be found enjoying the company of loved ones and learning about technology. Follow Danny on Instagram.
Reggie Neal and Munir Kahar. Reggie was born in Los Angeles into a musical family. His father was a singer/musician and his grandfather was involved in LA’s Central Avenue jazz scene as a nightclub owner. Reggie played the flute and saxophone from middle school through college at Los Angeles City College as a member of the jazz program under Bob MacDonald. He gratefully acknowledges the many musicians whom he has known and performed with over the years, including Severin Behnen, a Twin Cities-native he met in LA. At Music in the Trees, Reggie looks forward to rekindling the dialogue he used to have with the mockingbirds that perched in the magnolia trees outside his window while he practiced. Get in touch with Reggie here. Munir is a Javanese-American artist living in Minneapolis. His explored art forms include theater, puppetry, experimental music, poetry performance, and dance, with a focus on visual arts. Munir is a 2005 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Partnership grant. Since 2012, he has curated “BEYOND,” an avant-garde musical and performance cabaret at various locations in Minneapolis. Munir regularly displays work and performs in the Twin Cities at such places as Heart of the Beast Theater and Cedar Cultural Center. See examples of his work here.
Ritika Ganguly and Shinjan Sengupta. Ritika is a Minneapolis-based composer and anthropologist who has trained in multiple genres within Bengali music and contemporary Indian musical theater, and has studied voice at the California Jazz Conservatory. Born and raised in New Delhi, India, she has been awarded several grants for her research and new musical work in Baul (Bengali Sufi music/poetry). Ritika was recently commissioned by the Minnesota Opera to compose a mini opera in Bangla. Shinjan grew up in Kolkata, India, immersed in myriad musical genres. He has performed at the Cedar Cultural Center and composed music for the Katha Dance Theater and Minnesota Opera. Shinjan enjoys playing the Indian bamboo flute (bansuri) and pairing the minimalistic sounds of guitar and voice. As a duo, Ritika and Shinjan are beloved for their unique renditions of 200-year-old songs and poems in Bangla. Listen to some of their music here.
SeVy Gospel Quartet. SeVy Gospel Quartet has performed at various worship services, weddings, funerals, memorials, concerts, and other events and programs in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. They periodically sing at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. SeVy have performed in Anchorage, Alaska, and in Chicago, and recently sang at Lakewood Cemetery in the Historical Lakewood Chapel Minneapolis for their inaugural Virtual Memorial Day Event. Follow them on Instagram.
Zack and Ben Baltich. Brothers Zack and Ben Baltich have been playing music together for over half their lives. Together they spent a decade playing in the progressive metal band Words For Penga. They’ve also recorded projects together including Cavernous, which found them recording in caves throughout Minnesota. Zack is a percussionist/composer who has been commissioned by the American Composers Forum, Cedar Cultural Center, and Minnesota State Arts Board. He has also played his instrumental music throughout the United States. Connect with Zack on Facebook. Ben is a producer and songwriter under the name Feather Thief, which melds organic sounds and looped beats. Learn more about Ben’s music on Instagram.
Performers are still being added to the roster. Check back frequently for updates!