Winter Is (finally!) Over

WINTER_smallWe all welcome spring differently – dig in the garden, fire up the barbecue, play outside till dark. Or, if you’re Leslie Damaso, throw a concert with some musician friends.

L’hiver a Cesse – Winter is Over – is billed as an evening of songs by classic and contemporary composers. The concert is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mineral Point Opera House.

Leslie, who teaches music and piano here, received her degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She and her partner, Keith, relocated to Mineral Point from the west side of Madison after visiting a few times. One particular visit stands out: “We were driving down High Street on Gallery Night and it was about 20 degrees below zero. We saw what was to become our house, and it just felt right.”

Leslie has about 50 students ranging in age from 4 to 70, and they are one of the reasons she is putting on the concert. “I want the younger generation as well as the community to have access to this type of programming. People shouldn’t have to travel to Madison or Dubuque to hear classical music. I love Mineral Point and I want to bring musicians and other people here to see how unique and beautiful it is.”

If you have never heard Leslie sing, you are in for a treat. She has an amazing voice and is one of the many treasures Mineral Point is lucky to claim. The concert will also feature: Pianist Rachel Bittner, who works for the Minnesota Youth Symphonies Orchestra; Madison pianist Gregg Punswick; Madison violist Shannon Farley, who plays with Classical Revolution; and Andy Hatch, cheesemaker at Uplands Cheese and mandolin player for Point Five.

Andy will join Leslie for a special piece, “Si fa male,” composed by her friend Wes Alexander. “It was written for a novel called ‘The Green Ray of the Sun’ by Reinhardt Suarez. It’s a gorgeous Italian song,” says Leslie.

“I feel like this town lets you create. It allows anyone to be themselves … it’s a comfortable place and people are supportive,” Leslie says. And she finds many outlets for her creativity. In addition to lessons and occasional concerts, Leslie sings regularly at Cafe Porta Alba in Madison. She and Keith also explore another passion, food, on their blog Driftless Appetite.

You can buy tickets ($12) to the concert, which will include works by Brahms, Fauré, Ravel, Ricky Ian Gordon, Regina Spektor and Wes Alexander, at the door or at

– Contributed by Susan Webb

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