A fresh look at a mighty river

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MPR Photo/Preston Wright

This weekend composer Eve Beglarian paddled her way through the Twin Cities. Earlier this month she began a trek from the headwaters to New Orleans, which she hopes to finish by the end of the year. And she’s inviting historians, linguists, poets, writers and others to join her on the journey. Beglarian’s goal is to use the trip as inspiration for some intense music writing, and then journey back up the river with fellow musicians, performing her way back to Lake Itasca.

Beglarian has been feeling the pull of the Mississippi river for a while now. She was inspired in part by Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it wrought. That coupled with the economic crash reminded her of the WPA of the depression, which sent thousands of artists out across the country to paint murals, take photographs, and create sculptures. So Beglarian has come up with her own WPA-styled project.

The River Project, August 1st, 2009 (Day One) from Eve Beglarian on Vimeo.

While she’s only been on the river for a month now, Beglarian says the journey has already brought some revelations. Namely, she’s struck by the subtle yet still powerful presence of nature in even the most urban settings. “This river is like a secret,” she said in a phone interview while taking a break from kayaking. “I did Minneapolis on Friday and you could have fooled me because once you get down there [to the river] it’s a different world.” She says she imagines when she returns to New York City she’ll find herself connecting to the natural world hidden in amongst all the concrete.

You can follow Beglarian’s journey down the Mississippi on her website.

Many thanks to MPR’s Preston Wright for help reporting this story.

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