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Orchestra updates; Guthrie signs Goetz, Carey for 'Long Day's Journey'

orchestra players
Photo by John Whiting
Edo de Waart came to conduct the orchestra he led from 1986-1995. Also in the photo are soloists for Beethoven's 9th.

Twelve weeks after being locked out by management, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra played a pair of sold-out concerts at the Ted Mann last weekend. Edo de Waart came to conduct the orchestra he led from 1986-1995. In a radiant show of solidarity, former concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis returned to perform Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins with current concertmaster Erin Keefe. After intermission, the orchestra was joined by four soloists – soprano Ellie Dehn, mezzo Adriana Zabala, tenor Thomas Cooley, baritone Philip Zawisza – and an 82-voice chorus for Beethoven’s mighty, stirring Symphony No. 9, “Ode to Joy.” Here’s Larry Fuchsberg’s fine review for the Star Tribune.

Photo by John Whiting
Former concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis, back right, returned to perform Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins with current concertmaster Erin Keefe, left. Here they are with Edo de Waart after also performing in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

Fleezanis worked for free, as did de Waart, the musicians, the soloists, and the chorus. The dozens of people staffing the merch table, handing out tickets, and standing in the rain along the sidewalk from the parking ramp to the concert hall, greeting and welcoming each of us, were volunteers. Before the concert began, we learned of a new website being launched in support of the musicians, and we heard from violist Sam Bergman, who vowed, “We will continue to fight and sacrifice for this legacy for one day longer than a management, who insists that their destructive path is the only way forward for this orchestra.”

No new talks are scheduled between musicians and management in Minneapolis or in St. Paul, where the musicians of the SPCO have been locked out since Oct. 21. “We have a lot of ideas worthy of discussion,” the SPCO’s Lynn Erickson told MinnPost last week. “We’re vigorously pursuing dates and trying to work out something with management so we can get in the room and have a conversation. It’s so much easier than having a conversation in the press.” We can’t wait to report successful resolutions to both conflicts. On Thursday and Friday, Dec. 20 and 21, at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, the musicians of the SPCO will perform Handel’s “Messiah” with the Minnesota Chorale and soloists from the Minnesota Opera. Hugh Wolff, the SPCO’s principal conductor and music director from 1988-2000, will conduct. FMI and tickets. Because of  the lockouts, we’ve seen a parade of great conductors since October, when Stanislaw Skrowaczewski led the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in a gala concert at the Convention Center.

Jazz fan, pianist, and radio producer Les Block called to tell us that singer David Allyn died last month at age 93. “Some people might remember that he lived here from 1981-1985,” Block said. “He played a famous Mother’s Day concert in Northrop Auditorium in 1982.” Allyn was one of the great crooners. He sang in the big bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jack Teagarden, Stan Kenton and Count Basie; Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughn were among his friends and admirers. In 1977, following an appearance at Michael’s Pub in New York, Rex Reed wrote of Allyn: “He has perfect intonation, phrasing so intelligent and sensitive it takes your breath away, and a wonderful, creamy vibrato.” You can find a lot of Allyn’s music on YouTube; Block suggests this tribute video. (At some point in his career, Allyn changed the spelling of his last name from Allen.) Prolific jazz writer and author Marc Myers had several conversations with Allyn over the years; dip in here. Allyn retired in 2010 and passed away Nov. 21 in the VA Hospital in West Haven, Conn.

Attention, theater buffs: The Ivey Awards are seeking new theater evaluators for 2013. All you have to do is attend a 90-minute meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8 or Thursday, Jan. 17, evaluate a minimum of five productions over the next several months, and attend the glamorous Iveys on Sept. 23. Email info@iveyawards.com or call 612-870-1234 by this Friday, Dec. 21.

death of a salesman scene
Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Peter Michael Goetz and Helen Carey, shown here in the Guthrie's 2004 production of “Death of a Salesman,” will star in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

The Guthrie has announced the casts for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “Buzzer.” Peter Michael Goetz and Helen Carey will star in the first-ever Guthrie production of Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play about a family unraveling; Joe Dowling will direct. Goetz and Carey are old hands at acting married on the Guthrie’s stage; they were husband-and-wife in “Death of a Salesman” (2004), “All My Sons” (2002), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1976). Previews begin Jan. 12; through Feb. 23. FMI and tickets. In the Dowling, Namir Smallwood, Sara Richardson and Hugh Kennedy will reprise their roles in “Buzzer,” the play by Tracey Scott Chapman that had a record-breaking world premiere run at the Pillsbury House Theatre last fall. As before, Marion McClinton will direct. Feb. 8 – March 3. FMI and tickets.

Kate Nordstrum has added a new concert to her Liquid Music series for the SPCO. On Tuesday, March 12, Icelandic composer, musician, engineer, producer, and sonic experimenter Valgeir Sigurðsson will perform with violist Nadia Sirota and percussionist Shahzad Ismaily in the music room at the SPCO Center. Valgeir is the founder of the Bedroom Community record label and collective, home to Sam Amidon and Ben Frost. Here’s a sampling of his music (and Iceland’s spectacular scenery) from his 2010 release “Dreamland.” This should be delicious. FMI and tickets.

Lowertown line
Courtesy of TPT
Dessa, right, speaks with Alan Sparhawk of Low, left, and Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles on the inaugural episode of "The Lowertown Line."

The start of what we hope will be a new homegrown music series airs on TPT at 8:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve. Recorded before a live audience at TPT’s Lowertown studios on Oct. 24, hosted by Doomtree’s Dessa and featuring guest Alan Sparhawk of Low, “The Lowertown Line” includes a five-song set from Duluth’s Trampled by Turtles and an insider Q&A. Now being billed as a “music special,” the half-hour show is produced by Minnesota Original, TPT’s award-winning weekly arts series. Watch a rebroadcast at 2:30 a.m. (TPT2) or 7:30 p.m. (MN Channel) on New Year’s Day.  Here’s the promo video. Another episode is being planned for spring 2013.

We’re hearing a lot about St. Paul’s Lowertown these days as a booming arts district. A renovated Union Depot, the Central Corridor light rail, new Bedlam Theatre, new Minnesota Museum of American Art project space, galleries art crawls, live music, Mears Park, new restaurants and bars ... it’s enough to make even diehard Minneapolis residents gaze longingly to the east. So it’s nice of the PiPress to focus on the Northeast Arts District in Minneapolis with a lengthy article and interactive map.

Artists and crafters, apply now (or pretty soon) for the St. Paul Craftstravaganza, the “rogue art & craft sale” to be held May 11, 2013, in the Eco Experience Building (aka Progress Center) at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Applications are due no later than Jan. 15. Applying costs nothing; if you’re accepted as a vendor, you’ll need to pay a fee to hold your booth space. Online application here.

The Energizer Bunny of Minnesota music, mother to an ever-expanding tribe of musicians, Jeanne Arland Peterson is retiring. Really, Jeanne? But you’re only 91! Supposedly, the Peterson Family New Year’s Concert will be her last performance with all five of her children (Linda, Billy, Patty, Ricky and Paul) and members of the third generation (Jason, Tom and Russ). It’s bound to be a celebration of a Minnesota legend who began her career on WCCO radio while still in high school, served as organist for the Minnesota Twins, has just recorded another CD (with Grammy-winning producer Bruce Swedien), and is one of just two women members of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame (the other is Judy Garland). But – retirement? When her 92nd birthday comes around next August, we’ll see about that. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Admission includes a post-concert party with the Petersons with live music, dancing, a buffet and party favors. FMI and tickets.

Premiering Sunday, Dec. 23, on PBS (TPT2): “Christmas at Luther: Tidings of Comfort and Joy.” Produced by TPT and Luther College, this decades-old tradition features six choral ensembles (over 500 voices), a symphony orchestra, a handbell choir, a pipe organ, candlelight and an audience of thousands. Fifty-six minutes of bliss for anyone who loves choral music at Christmastime. 7 p.m. Sunday, 1 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday (Dec. 24), 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Christmas Day.

Still holiday shopping? Stuck for gift ideas? What about a museum membership, or tickets to a live concert or dance performance? One example: the Schubert Club is offering a three-concert subscription to its International Artist Series for $99, with seating in the Ordway’s balcony. The series includes cellist Alisa Weilerstein (Tuesday, Jan, 8), tenor James Valenti (Saturday, Feb. 9), and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter (Monday, March 11). Offer expires Jan. 4. Call 651-292-3268.

Some last-minute holiday event suggestions:

“La Natividad” at Heart of the Beast. The Christmas story transported to here and now, performed in English and Spanish, with larger-than-life puppets. Journey with Maria and José as they seek refuge among four locations within 2½ city blocks in Minneapolis. Begins at the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, ends at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church with a fiesta (music and food). You’ll have to dress for the weather. The opening weekend sold out. Remaining performances Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 20-22. FMI and tickets.

“Family Dinner” at HUGE Improv Theater. A family gathers for a holiday feast. Each member holds a secret provided by an audience member – maybe you? See what a cast of improvisers can do with your deepest, darkest, and/or funniest family tale. 8 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 29. FMI and tickets.

“Rejoice! Christmas in Leipzig & Venice.” The Lyric Baroque Orchestra is on the road with a program of 18th-century music (Bach, Scarlatti) and soloists Maria Jette (soprano) and Kris Kwapis (trumpet). Find them Friday, Dec. 21 at Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester, Saturday, Dec. 22 at Hamline University’s Sundin Hall, and Sunday, Dec. 23 at the Baroque Room in St. Paul. FMI and tickets (click TICKETS at the top of the page).

"An O. Henry Christmas" at Open Window Theatre. Musical versions of "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Last Leaf," both twisty tales of sacrificial love. Adapted by Peter Ekstrom, directed by Joy Donley. Through Dec. 30. FMI and tickets.

One more thing: this is the final Artscape of 2012. We’ll return Friday, Jan. 4. Meanwhile, we’ll post breaking arts news and curiosities from near and far on our Facebook page. So now is as good a time as any to “like” it. Happy holidays! 

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