“I’m just giddy right now,” Robin Eschner said last week.

The ringing of the phone in the California composer's house was like a timer going off as she printed the last page of the seven concert scores she created for a song cycle inspired by the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

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In May 2014, Eschner was awarded $15,000 from the McKnight Foundation to study the race and compose music about it.

Since then, Eschner has spent 60 days in Minnesota learning all there is to know about mushing and its history on the North Shore, where in days past it was used to deliver mail - something now remembered by the annual Beargrease race.

Sunday, Eschner's song "Snowfall" - one of the 18 songs from the song cycle “Crazy Cold Beautiful” - will be performed for the first time by the Borealis Chorale at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. Another performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the church. The concerts also will include music from Handel’s “Messiah” and will feature visiting soloists, a 90-piece choir and a 20-piece orchestra. The concerts are free but donations are accepted; it’s a fundraiser for the Borealis Chorale.

“Snowfall” is a song based on a book Eschner bought in Grand Marais - "Canoe Country and Snowshoe Country," written by Florence Page Jaques and illustrated by her husband, Francis Lee Jaques.

Eschner was particularly inspired by one part of the book in which Florence notices that her footprints had been covered by snow, making it look like she wasn’t there.

“The song is about the silent gorgeous beauty of winter - and knowing that it’s OK if you aren’t physically a part of it. It can happen on its own,” Eschner said.

The other 17 songs are based on the history and culture of sled dog mushing, using real sounds recorded from her visits to Minnesota.

“What I loved is the spirit of the connection of the people and the dogs. The way they work so beautifully together - not just in the marathon but in daily life,” Eschner said.

Eschner will return to Minnesota for the 2016 Beargrease race - set to start Jan. 31 - singing the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at the starting line with Take Jack, a nine-member ensemble from California.

The full “Crazy Cold Beautiful” song cycle is set to premiere with performances including the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra, Take Jack and Grand Portage drummers on Feb. 5 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais, and Feb. 6 at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth.

Eschner said she is excited to come back to Minnesota, as she has become attached to the people and dog sledding.

“It’s a dangerous project - it has that sort of seduction. If it were 20 years ago I would’ve ended up with 20 dogs in my yard after this project,” Eschner said.