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MN Orchestra cancels another week; 'Prairie Home' to throw masked ball

Minnesota Orchestra
Photo by John Whiting
The fact that the Minnesota Orchestra is canceling just a week, rather than multiple months, may be a sign of progress in ongoing lock-out negotiations. Musicians performed last fall with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.

Is it a good sign that the Minnesota Orchestra has canceled another week of concerts, as in only a week? Previous cancellation announcements wiped out a month or two at a time. Gone are the Feb. 14 and 15 performances of Elgar’s Cello Concerto (best make other Valentine’s plans). “Casablanca” with the Minnesota Orchestra, originally scheduled for Feb. 16, will move into the 2013–14 season. The Kodo concert at the Convention Center will proceed as planned, but under presenter Sue McLean’s banner. If you already have tickets to Kodo, no worries. If you want them, go here. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will play their own concert at the Convention Center on Feb. 1, led by Osmo Vänskä. The result of an invitation from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and arts benefactor Judy Dayton, this will be the first time the musicians and their maestro have performed together since June 2012.

So you think you can program a radio station? Stop by the Amsterdam on Tuesday, Feb. 5 and give it a try. Perhaps because its ratings have fallen, 89.3 The Current is holding its “first-ever public music meeting” on Tuesday, Feb. 5 starting at 6 p.m. Hear, rate and rank unreleased songs and learn how music is added to the rotation. Free, but reservations are required, and registration is open now.

Just saying “masked ball” is kind of a thrill. Intrigue, mystery, and everyone’s a stranger. On Saturday, Feb. 2, at 9 p.m., after that day’s live broadcast, “A Prairie Home Companion” is throwing a masked ball on the stage of the Fitzgerald Theater. Garrison Keillor will host; Butch Thompson and His New Orleans Orphans will play. A limited number of masks will be for sale in the lobby, but you’re encouraged to bring your own. Tickets through Ticketmaster, in person at the Fitz box office, or by phone (MPR members only) at 651-290-1200. If you hurry, you can order your mask from Carta Alta in Venice.

Charitable giving is expected to rise as a result of Congress’ fiscal-cliff tax deal. According to a report released by the Urban Institute Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the major individual income tax provisions (mainly the increase in the top marginal tax rate) should increase giving by $3.3 billion, or 1.3 percent. Maybe some of that will trickle down to the arts.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts reports that the next two years of arts funding in Minnesota are “on the line.” One-third of the Legislature is new, we’re facing a deficit of over $1 billion, and all of the new legislative leaders are saying the deficit is their top priority. Minnesota’s arts funding comes from the General Fund and the Legacy Fund. We can expect a General Fund cut in the arts; because of the economic recovery, we can also probably expect more arts dollars from the Legacy Fund. The new House Legacy Committee, chaired by Phyllis Kahn, is meeting today (Tuesday, Jan. 15), but not specifically about the arts. Put Thursday, March 7 on your calendar; that’s Arts Advocacy Day. You can register now if you like.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be artists – not if you want them to support you in your old age. In Sunday’s Strib, Graydon Royce and Sharyn Jackson looked at what it takes to make ends meet as an artist, even in the arts-rich Twin Cities. Should be required reading for those who think artists live large.

Chanhassen Dinner Threatres present: Power Balladz, the Ultimate 80s Sing-Along
Courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Threatres present: Power Balladz,
the Ultimate 80s Sing-Along

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has finalized the first half of its inaugural concert series, to be held throughout 2013 in the intimate Fireside Theatre, which seats around 230. January 25: Mary Jane Alm and The Tex Pistols Band. February-May: “Power Balladz, the Ultimate 80s Sing-Along.” February 14 (Valentine’s Day): “Only Love Can Break a Heart: The Music of Gene Pitney,” with Pitney’s former music director Gary Rue. February 27-28: The Fabulous Armadillos Present Woodstock. March 15-16: “Dolly, Linda, Patsy and Me: A Tribute to the Greatest Women of Country,” featuring Monica Heuser (“Always Patsy Cline”). April 11 and 13: The New Standards. May 15, 16, 18: “Takin’ It to the Limit: A Tribute to the Eagles,” with Collective Unconscious and the Fabulous Armadillos. May 1 and June 1: “Pamela McNeill’s Rumours & Dreams: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac.” June 21: “When a Man Loves a Diva.” FMI. Tickets here.

Club Book, the free-to-the-public series that brings best-selling, award-winning authors to libraries throughout the Twin Cities metro, has unveiled its winter/spring 2013 season. February 5: short story writer, novelist and essayist Pam Houston (“Cowboys Are My Weakness”). February 29 and April 21: writer and comedian Lorna Landvik (“Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons”). March 8: poet and memoirist Li-Young Lee (“The City in Which I Love You”). March 19 and 20: novelist, memoirist and “Dear Sugar” columnist Cheryl Strayed (“Wild”). April 19: novelist Arthur Phillips (“Egyptologist”). April 24: restaurateur Brenda Langton (“The Spoonriver Cookbook”). May 8: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and fiction writer John Sandford (“Silken Prey”). May 29: fiction writer and essayist Benjamin Percy (“The Wilding”). Full details (times, places) here.

Tonight at the Dakota (Tuesday, Jan. 15): Latin Jazz All-Stars. We understand that not everyone loves jazz, but if you don’t enjoy Latin jazz, you might be dead. The rhythms are infectious and the music is lively and fun. The All-Stars is a changing configuration but always a supergroup. This time around it’s trombonist and “Saturday Night Live” veteran Steve Turre, flutist Nestor Torres, and percussionist Pete Escovedo, also known as Sheila E’s dad. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, Jan. 16), the Minnesota Opera and the Humphrey School team up to host what’s sure to be a provocative discussion on “The Rhetoric of Certainty.” John Patrick Shanley – who wrote “Doubt,” the play (winner of a Pulitzer and a Tony), directed “Doubt,” the movie, and wrote the libretto for “Doubt,” the opera, which has its world premiere here on Jan. 26will join other panelists, including MinnPost CEO and Editor Joel Kramer, to explore the rhetoric and political implications of certainty and the natural human aversion to doubt. They’ll place the discussion in the context of the opera’s setting (Vatican II and the Civil Rights movement) and the war in Iraq, which was Shanley’s inspiration. The Strib’s Graydon Royce will moderate. Does this all sound a bit stuffy or eggheadish? Recall how certain we were that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Ponder the phrase “American exceptionalism.” 7 p.m., Rarig Center, 330 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis. Free and open to the public; RSVP required. MinnPost is a media sponsor of this event.

We love it when Minnesota authors write novels set in Minnesota, especially novels about our dark side. On Wednesday at Common Good Books, Thomas Maltman reads from his new novel, “Little Wolves,” a murder mystery set in a small town on the Minnesota prairie during a drought. Then (it’s a twofer) Peter Geye reads from “The Lighthouse Road,” a saga of logging camps, desperate winters, whiskey smuggling, and dangerous love. Both sound perfect for a cold night in January. 7 p.m., free.

Opening Wednesday in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio: “As You Like It.” Presented in association with The Acting Company, the New York-based touring theater founded by John Houseman, this production showcases the talents of up-and-coming actors from the U of M/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program, A Guthrie Experience for Actors in Training, and Acting Company alums. Dan Rothenberg directs; seeing connections between Shakespeare’s play and Maurice Sendak’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” he pictured a royal court on the edge of a forest, wrestlers that resemble prehistoric animals, and animals creating a rumpus. Should be fun in the intimate Dowling, a black-box theater with seemingly magical powers to turn itself into anything. FMI and tickets.

Bass players, this is for you: on Thursday, the great bassist Victor Wooten will host a master class at Guitar Center Twin Cities in Roseville. Best known for his work with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Wooten is also a successful solo artist and in-demand sideman. The event includes a meet & greet, live performance, tutorial, and Q & A. 7 p.m. Free, but space is limited.

Opening Friday at the Children’s Theatre: Greg Banks’ reimagining of “Pinocchio,” the Italian story of the puppet who longs to be a real boy. Banks’ adaptations for CTC include “Robin Hood,” “Huck Finn” and “Romeo and Juliet.” About “Pinocchio,” Banks says, “Although this is a children’s story, it’s not a fairy tale. ‘Pinocchio’ is a great story about growing up. … It explores that fabulous time of innocence when everything is now from discovering your legs and finding out that they work … to figuring out that sometimes being alive is not just about you.” Ivey-winning actor Bradley Greenwald stars; Banks also directs. For grades K+. Through Feb. 24. Tickets here.

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Comments (6)

Do we need the Minnesota Orchestra?

I think we may be reaching the moment where we have to think about whether the current Minnesota Orchestra model is viable and worth saving. It might be time to start fresh with a new orchestra and a new orchestra structure, one not bound by the no longer viable assumptions of the past and one capable of responding more flexibly, and one would hope, more flexibly, to the challenges of the future.

I agree

I agree: we need to think about whether the current model is viable.

We need to think about whether a business model in which a CEO lies to the state legislature to get money for a lobby - in which PR firms are hired to decide what kinds of deficits to report - in which unqualified management has unprecedented power to make artistic decisions - in which plans to slash musicians' pay and degrade the quality of the orchestra are developed in secret, with no patron input whatsoever - is viable. I don't believe it is. I don't believe that the central mission of an organization should be changed without substantial community input, as do most individuals in the field of non-profit ethics. That's why I call for a new business model: one in which the current leadership of the Minnesota Orchestral Association resigns and allows people with integrity to step up. Only then can we truly begin the difficult work of figuring out what we can and cannot afford.

Emily E Hogstad
songofthelark.wordpress.com

Replace the Board and CEO

Hiram, what exactly are these "no longer viable assumptions of the past" and exactly what kind of "flexibility to the challenges of the future" are you talking about? The orchestra has been going strong for 110+ years and their only problem at the moment seems to be an out-of-touch board of directors and ineffective CEO who are determined to turn Orchestra Hall into a rental hall because, clearly, managing an orchestra is not their strong suit. Consequently, it is time to replace all of them, which I believe the state attorney general is obligated to do under the circumstances.

Changes

My own thought is that maybe the Orchestra needs to get away from this downtown institutionalized model that doesn't seem to be working anywhere in the country. If we have learned anything in this conflict, we have learned that it's the people who matter, not the institutions and not the buildings. We lost track of that over the years.

not happening everywhere

as a locked out Minnesota Orchestra musician who is currently playing with the Chicago Symphony I can definitely state that Chicago is a place where the "downtown institutionalized model" is working- sold out concerts and a pride in what this orchestra means to the city. This is one of the lies that needs to be exposed; that this "business model" is dying everywhere. It simply is not true. Look at places like Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and San Francisco where the orchestras are helping drive economic development.

The Minnesota Orchestra is equal in quality to any orchestra in this country- for too many years it has been under utilized as an ambassador for this state. I hope when this dispute is settled Minnesotans can point with pride once again to this cultural gem as representative of the best that Minnesota has to offer.

Old models

what exactly are these "no longer viable assumptions of the past" and exactly what kind of "flexibility to the challenges of the future" are you talking about?

It's hard to say. I think in this internet age, the whole notion of music as performed in enormously expensive downtown buildings before audiences of the elderly just may not be viable anymore. It's a model that has never worked well, and now as evidenced by the fact that both of our local orchestras are being locked out by their managers, which seems to be nothing more than a joint act of ritual suicide, that model is in complete collapse.