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Vänskä weighs in on orchestra lockout; TU Dance opens season

ALSO: It’s a big weekend for new music in Twin Cities; Northern Clay Center to host holiday open house; and more.

Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä sent a letter to his board and to musicians urging “new and creative ways – without insulting or demeaning – to pursue these negotiations.”
Photo by Eric Moore

No end is in sight for either orchestra lockout, but all parties continue to rumble in the increasingly public conflicts between musicians and management on both sides of the river. On Wednesday, Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä sent a letter to his board and to musicians urging “new and creative ways – without insulting or demeaning – to pursue these negotiations.”

Board Chair Jon Campbell and orchestra President Michael Henson responded with an email to stakeholders acknowledging receipt of Vänskä’s letter and expressing “great empathy for our musicians – and our audiences,” along with confusion about “the musicians’ unwillingness to return to the negotiations with a contract proposal.” They quoted John Budd, a labor relations expert at the Carlson School, who told the Strib’s Graydon Royce in an interview last week that the musicians’ counterproposals to date are “structural requests around the parameters of the negotiations and not formal counterproposals.” Perhaps everyone can start by agreeing on what does/does not constitute a proposal? The locked-out musicians will perform two holiday concerts at the Ted Mann on Dec. 15 and 16. Tickets here, and they’re going fast.

Following a “complete breakdown in talks,” the musicians of the SPCO scheduled a fundraiser for Sunday, Dec. 2, at Wayzata Community Church. Pinchas Zukerman, the SPCO’s music director from 1980–87, will return to lead an all-Mozart program including the “Figaro” overture, Violin Concerto in A major, and “Jupiter” symphony. This will be the first time the orchestra has played in public since the musicians were locked out on Oct 21. FMI and tickets. Two weeks earlier, on Nov. 25, SPCO principal second violinist Kyu-Young Kim and associate concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini will play a violin duo recital at Good Samaritan Church in Edina. The concert will be a joint benefit for the SPCO Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund and VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People). No tickets; $20 suggested donation at the door. 

One of the December concerts canceled by the Minnesota Orchestra, Toni Sol-fa’s holiday concert, has been moved to the Burnsville Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, the same date and time as originally planned. Tickets may be purchased at the Burnsville PAC box office at 12600 Nicollet Ave. or through Ticketmaster. Tickets for the previously scheduled Minneapolis Convention Center performance are not valid.

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Last week’s election results were mostly good for the arts, according to the Americans for the Arts Action Fund. “President Obama will now have the opportunity to fully realize his vision for the arts and culture as he originally laid out four years ago,” CEO Robert Lynch said in a statement posted Nov. 7. While, “the number of Republicans that formed a crucial pro-arts voting bloc in the House has taken a hit … we look forward to working with newly elected Sens.  Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) who bring their stellar House arts voting records to the Senate.”

Big Bird is safe (for now), as is the National Endowment for the Arts, which recently awarded the American Composers Forum $25,000 for its Bandquest program, a series of new music and curricula for school bands. The ACF will use this money to commission a new work by Hankus Netsy, composer, klezmer revivalist and passionate advocate for improvisation.

We asked Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, for a few words on what the Minnesota election means to the arts here at home. Now that the DFL will control both the House and Senate, what happens next? “The arts are a nonpartisan issue at the state level,” Smith told MinnPost. “We have advocates on both sides of the aisle. We lost a bunch of more senior members who had been longtime supporters, and the huge turnover means a third of the legislature will be brand new. We have a big education job to do. And because the state still has a giant deficit, it will be a tough session for the state budget. But it was just announced that Sen. [Dick] Cohen will chair the finance committee, and that’s helpful; he’s a longtime arts advocate. The election was a big surprise to everybody. First, we’re getting over our shock. Then we have to figure out the new landscape.”

From the Dept. of Proud to Be a Minnesotan: We have two new National Book Award winners to brag about. On Wednesday night in New York City, Louise Erdrich took the fiction prize for “The Round House,” her 14th novel, and William Alexander won young-adult author award for “Goblin Secrets,” a fantasy novel. This was Erdrich’s third nomination but first win. Alexander, who teaches at MCAD, told the Strib’s Laurie Hertzel, “I’ve only been a novelist since March.” A third Minnesotan, Susan Wheeler, was a finalist for the poetry award, which went to David Ferry. The National Book Foundation, presenter of the awards, is still digging out from Hurricane Sandy; its office remains closed after the building where it is located suffered extensive damage.

Zenon Dance Company performing 'Storm'
Photo by William Cameron
Zenon Dance Company performing ‘Storm’

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has issued a proclamation naming today (Nov. 16) “Zenon Dance Company Day.” Today marks the opening of Zenon’s 30th season in the Twin Cities and the start of two weekends of dance performances. Tonight through Sunday features repertory by new generation choreographers Mariusz Olszewski, Netta Yerushalmy, Daniel Charon, and Luciana Achugar. Next weekend, it’s works from the company’s repertory by Wynn Fricke, Johannes Wieland and Danny Buraczeski, plus a reprise of the Olszewski world premiere from this weekend. At the Cowles. FMI and tickets.

TU Dance opens its ninth season this weekend at the O’Shaughnessy. The program includes the world premiere of Uri Sands’ “Feather and Bone,” inspired by the work of Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert, set to indie folk and electronic dub music. Also Camille Brown’s “Strum” and Sands’ “Amusement of the Gods” and “Earth.” Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets.

TU Dance opens its ninth season this weekend at the O’Shaughnessy.
Photo by V. Paul Virtucio
TU Dance opens its ninth season this weekend at the O’Shaughnessy.

It’s a big weekend for new music in the Twin Cities. Zeitgeist’s New Music Cabaret, which began last night in Lowertown with performances by Flying Forms, Zeitgeist, and Atlantis Quartet, continues tonight with Ensemble 61, Zeitgeist, the Orange Mighty Trio, and a McNally Smith Showcase featuring pianist/composer Joseph Schad. Go here for tickets and to learn about Saturday’s and Sunday’s programs. On Sunday afternoon at Macalester, in the recently renovated (and reportedly quite nice) Mairs Concert Hall in the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Mac’s music department presents a free recital by pianist and Mac grad Grant Loehnig and baritone Marcus DeLoach, one of today’s leading performers of contemporary classical music. The program includes Paul Bowles’ “Blue Mountain Ballads,” with texts by Tennessee Williams, poems of Langston Hughes set to music by various composers, and Gabriel Kahane’s cheeky “Craigslistlieder.” 3 p.m., 1600 Grand Ave. St. Paul. FMI: 651-696-6608. On Sunday night at the Cedar, the New York-based NOW Ensemble performs “new music for the 21st century.” NOW’s managing director is Judd Greenstein, who was here in March to premiere “Acadia,” his microcommission with the Minnesota Orchestra. Opening for NOW: dVRG (deVon Gray) and his group Chihuahua City with bassist Anthony Cox and vocalists Aby Wolf and Mankwe Ndosi. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.

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On Saturday at Subtext in St. Paul, Minnesota historian Rhoda R. Gilman will read, sign, and discuss her book “Stand Up! The Story of Minnesota’s Protest Tradition.” Gilman covers the major protest movements of the past 150 years: the abolitionist Republicans, Grangers, Populists, suffragists, Farmer-Laborites, and more, along with events she herself helped to shape. 3 p.m, 165 Western Ave. N.

On Sunday, Northern Clay Center hosts its annual Holiday Open House from noon until 4 p.m. Stop by for artist demonstrations, tours, hands-on activities (make your own ornaments), cake, and coffee. If you want, you can do some holiday shopping; the sales gallery is filled with pots by more than 75 artists from across the US. New this year, Holiday Coffee Kits include mugs by local potters and bags of Peace Coffee. On view in the exhibition gallery: work by Cary Illian, Warren MacKenzie and Jeff Oestreich. All three are featured in “Crossroads,” the latest episode of the PBS series “Craft in America,” which airs Sunday on tpt at 1 p.m.

For more holiday shopping, visit the Soap Factory on Saturday for the 2012 Minneapolis Craft’za. Over 70 vendors, workshops all day, and Natedogs outside. Buy handmade soaps for the bath, feathers for your hair, letterpress cards to send, posters, prints, bags, toys, clothes, candles, and who knows what else. This will be fun. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., free. 

At the Trylon Microcinema through Tuesday, with multiple showings: “The Connection,” a 1961 feature by experimental filmmaker Shirley Clarke. For cinephiles and anyone interested in the history of American film, this is a must. Based on the off-Broadway play by the same name, written by Jack Gelber and first performed at the Living Theater, “The Connection” has a simple, almost nonexistent plot: a group of junkies wait around for their dealer in a shabby loft apartment. The play was a hit; the film was vilified by critics and banned by authorities. Newly restored by the U.C.L.A. Film & Television Archive, it looks tame compared to almost anything on TV these days. As a historical document, it’s fascinating. Among the junkies is a jazz quartet featuring Jackie McLean on saxophone, which jazz fans cite as reason enough to see the film. (The quartet plays bebop, and there’s a picture of Charlie Parker on the wall.) Soon after “The Connection” was re-released earlier this year, J. Hoberman, senior film critic for the Village Voice, wrote the piece to read about it. If you want to know more, here’s an article about Clarke and the  work being done to preserve her legacy. FMI and tickets.

You can watch Alfred Hitchcock’s films at home on your TV, or you can see them on the big screen and cower in your seat. Hitch would want the latter.  Starting Sunday, the Film Society is holding a Hitchcock movie marathon at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. On Sunday-Monday, a truly terrifying double feature: “The Birds” and “Psycho.” Those movies will mess you up. On Tuesday, a free advance screening of the new theatrical film “Hitchcock,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. FMI and tickets for the double feature here. Passes for “Hitchcock” will be handed out at each showing. 

From left to right: Dieter Bierbrauer (Bobby), David Darrow (Paul) and Suzy Koha
Photo by Michal Daniel
From left to right: Dieter Bierbrauer (Bobby), David Darrow (Paul) and Suzy Kohane (Amy) in Theater Latté Da’s “Company”

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Ends this weekend: Theater Latte Da’s glowingly reviewed production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” an examination of marriage in contemporary society. (Minnesotans defeated the marriage amendment, so we can stop with the marriage-themed musicals and plays, or at least stop attaching political messages to them.) Just three performances remain, starting with tonight’s. FMI and tickets.

Got plans for Thanksgiving weekend, other than eating and passing out? A Kevin Kling show is always a sure thing. This year, the storyteller collaborates with singer/songwriter Mason Jennings on “Back Home,” a look at the meaning of home from ancient Greece to a log cabin. Expect love and angst, tenderness, revelation, and belly laughs. At the Fitz Friday-Sunday, Nov. 23-25. For tickets (and family discounts), call the MPR box office at 651-290-1221.

On sale today:

•  Dar Williams, March 9 at the Cedar. Rolling Stone calls her one of the most influential singer/songwriters of her time. She’ll likely perform songs from her tenth album, “In the Time of Gods.”

•  Keb’ Mo’, March 18 at the Guthrie. The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/guitarist will be touring behind his new album, “The Reflection.”

•  Single tickets for “War Horse,” June 12-23 at the Orpheum. The Tony-winning hit play closes on Broadway January 6. The Lincoln Center Theater, where it has run since April 21, and its producing partners have decided that the show is too costly to continue. New Yorkers will have to come here.

“Guts and Glory: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern,” May 11 at the State. Having just concluded his long-running travel/dining series “No Reservations,” Bourdain is on to new things including “The Taste,” a cooking competition series for ABC premiering next year, and a docu-series for CNN. He’s also launching a new line of books for Ecco, a HarperCollins imprint. Zimmern, who lives in Minneapolis, is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food, writer, and teacher; his latest series is “Bizarre Foods America.” The man will eat anything, probably even lutefisk.

And what about holiday shows? That’s such a big topic we’re saving it for next Tuesday.