Father, daughter raise funds for arts, music at Duluth schools

Mark and Faith Eskola have strong ties to the district and play in bands, both of which are set to perform as part of an event Thursday.

Whispered The Rabbit
Whispered the Rabbit is set to perform at the Arts and Music Duluth Public Schools Benefit Concert on Thursday.
Contributed / Whispered the Rabbit

DULUTH — Although Mark Eskola and his daughter, Faith, have played music together for many events over the years, Thursday marks the first time the musicians will do a show together with their own bands.

The pay-what-you-can concert is a fundraiser for the arts and music programs at Duluth Public Schools, which both musicians have close ties with: Faith as an alumna of Central High School and Mark as a former orchestra instructor of 23 years with the district.

Mark and Faith Eskola
Father and daughter musicians Mark and Faith Eskola are set to play with their respective bands at a benefit concert for arts and music programs for the Duluth Public Schools.
Contributed / Faith Eskola

"We were out, I don't know, skiing or driving somewhere and we both just said, you know, it'd be nice to do something for the Duluth schools," Mark said. "We both play in bands, maybe we could do a benefit concert? Then the months passed by and we kind of forgot about it for a bit."

Mark works as a part-time luthier and was asked to repair a set of guitars that Trampled by Turtles donated to the schools. Mark remembered when the donation came in almost a decade ago and agreed to fix a few bridges and other parts.

Former Duluth East orchestra conductor Mark Eskola prepares to play an electric cello he made in the home workshop where he repairs musical instruments. Steve Kuchera /
FROM 2018: Former Duluth East orchestra director keeps the music playing
The art of creation, in construction or music composition, has always gone hand in hand for Mark Eskola.

"And I started talking with some of the teachers and they're just so underfunded," Mark said. "So I thought, OK, if we can just do something to help, even if it's small, that'd be nice. And Faith was on board as she got her start in art there and said she felt grateful for her experiences there."


March was also an ideal time to set the concert as it is the National Association for Music Education's Music in Our Schools Month.

Faith graduated from Central in 1996 and works as a senior manager and associate creative director at Target. She credits her early art opportunities for helping her develop her confidence and willingness to explore art as a career.

"I feel so lucky that I was given the opportunities and had the exposure to take lessons and participate in the arts," Faith said. "I ended up with an art degree in college. I didn't really get into visual arts in high school, but I had a general art class where the teacher was just so impactful. That really impacted my confidence and willingness to take risks and explore on my own time and in college."

Typically we describe it as instrumental folkloric punk inspired by mythology.
Faith Eskola

She also credits her young music education for her continued interest and exploration with the band she plays with today, Whispered the Rabbit. Faith plays a five-string violin that she runs through effects and pedals that gives her "the full sonic range of an orchestra by myself." Her bandmates, which range in background from heavy metal to folk to progressive, together create instrumental music with "cinematic feels — like a soundtrack to a movie that's never been made," she said.

"It's one of the pandemic baby bands that came out of some jams that happened during that time," Faith said. "Typically we describe it as instrumental folkloric punk inspired by mythology."

Bill Bergson Band
The Bill Bergson Band is set to perform at the Arts and Music Duluth Public Schools Benefit Concert on Thursday.
Contributed / Bill Bergson Band

Mark plays in the Bill Bergson Band, which he describes as a range of styles, but primarily progressive rock or progressive rock.

"For example, we have a song called 'Consider the Heavens,' which is sort of a cinematic soundtrack of what you'd see looking at space through the Hubble or James Webb telescope," Mark said. "But we have another that's a whole different vibe called 'Deus Ex Machina,' which has more bass and drums and is a commentary on artificial intelligence."

Between the two bands, students from both Denfeld and East high schools are set to perform musical acts. There will also be student artwork on display in the lobby and projected during the performances. All money raised will toward music lesson scholarships and arts education opportunities. There is no cover for the performances; attendees are asked to donate what they can.


If you go

What: Arts and Music Duluth Public Schools Benefit Concert
Where: The West Theatre, 319 N. Central Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Cost: Free; donations requested

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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