World-renowned violist will perform Wolpert's 'Giants.'

    Looking for an excursion this Saturday to escape what looks to be cloudy, wet weather? Maybe you should head east from Crookston on U.S. Highway to and set your sights on Bemidji.

    In its 80th season, the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, Oct. 6 will host an evening of music themed “Giants,” and they will feature music by none other than Max Wolpert, the son of Daniel Wolpert and Debra Bell who grew up in Crookston and graduated from CHS in 2011.

    The curtain opens at 7 p.m. in the Bemidji High School, located southwest of the city at 2900 Division Street West.

    “Giants” will feature Wolpert as guest composer and “world-renowned” Brett Deubner as guest violist. Among the pieces to be performed during the show is Deubner playing Wolpert’s Viola Concerto No. 1 “Giants.” The evening will also feature Cavaleria Rusticana by Mascagni, Symphony No. 4 by David Diamond, and Coplands Fanfare for the Common Man.

    Adult tickets are $20. Seniors 62 and older will pay $15, college students pay $10, and K-12 students get in free. You can get tickets at the door, or get them at

    Reached by the Times, Wolpert says his music has been performed by several orchestras, including Musique sur la Mer Orchestra in Long Beach, Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra in Tucson, Berklee World Strings in Boston, the Gramado Festival Orchestra in Brazil, and coming up in February the Pro Musica Orchestra in Colorado.  

    The Bemidji concert, however, is the American premiere performance of “Giants” concerto, Wolpert adds. describes “Giants,” his first viola concerto, as wielding “the unsung hero of the orchestra to call up singing harps, dancing storm clouds, and a fiendishly ticking clock inexorably counting down to the end of the world.”

   So what's it like to witness other amazing musicians play your works?

    "As a composer, most of my time is spent in a room, by myself, doing what essentially amounts to scribbling down instructions for people (that I may or may not ever meet!) to follow.  It’s a bizarre, somewhat solipsistic kind of work, so going from that level of isolation to hearing sixty-plus musicians bringing what I’ve written to life is like a revitalizing shock of cold water," Wolpert told the Times, via email. "It’s fantastic; and for a composer, it’s so easy for us to get lost in our own heads that having respect for performers (who are, at the end of the day, the ones doing all the work) is so critical in helping to stay grounded in why we all came to love music in the first place.

     "So getting a chance to hear incredible musicians sharing their talents with an audience is of course incredibly humbling in that they’ve chosen to spend their time on my music; but it’s also a great reminder that music is a living, breathing, person-to-person art form, and that this collaboration between composer, conductor, performers, and audience is a unique and special experience," Wolpert added.

    When he’s not composing music, Wolpert has a teaching assistantship at the University of Colorado Boulder, teaching undergraduate music theory courses. When he’s not teaching on campus, he’s working toward his master’s degree in composition. He also teaches private composition lessons at Naropa University, and have a full private teaching studio as well. On top of all that, he tours intermittently with a bluegrass band, plays in a wedding-music duo, and engages in a host of other activities that constitute a freelance music career.

    Wolpert’s biography at reads as follows:

    “Fiddler, composer, and storyteller Max Wolpert conjures up monsters and myth where the traditional, classical, and theatrical meet.

    “Drawing from tradition both musical and mythological, Max Wolpert makes music inspired by stories from around the world.  Whether built upon the verve and bounce of an Irish jig, the endearing asymmetry of a Welsh pipe tune, or the drive of a Virginian breakdown, Max's pieces are crafted with taut detail and a flair for the dramatic honed over years as a pit musician, conductor, and orchestrator for theatrical productions.

    “His two string quartets, Myths and Song of Four, serve as pedagogical tools to introduce the classical musician to traditional forms and improvisation, and in performance bring forth an Irish war goddess, two enchanted ravens, a young girl with dreams of piracy, and a ferociously contrapuntal chase through a twisting labyrinth.

    “Max is dedicated to music education and a passionate advocate for new music.  He teaches privately and at workshops throughout New England and the Midwest, and serves on the faculty for the Rocky Ridge Music Academy and Mountainside Music Academy.  Max encourages his students and collaborators to explore stories and traditions that spark the imagination, and to bring forth the outlandish, the macabre, and the magic inherent in music.”