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The Walker’s provocative lineup; Accordo returns; poetry and pirates

ALSO: Arts organizations against the marriage amendment; a Bach weekend; poet John Caddy wins major McKnight award; and more

Australia's Back to Back Theatre presents "Ganesh Versus the Third Reich" in the Walker's 2012-13 Performing Arts Season.

 I can’t say exactly when the Walker started mailing a Performing Arts Season catalog (not a misnomer; last year’s ran 36 pages). I know that for fans of the arts, the Walker, and Philip Bither’s programming, it’s like the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. As you turn the pages, you see a lot of things you want and a few eyebrow-raisers.

The 2012-13 season was announced Thursday. Dozens of events over eight months include six commissions, three world premieres, five residencies, exclusive U.S. engagements, the 40th anniversary of the Choreographers’ Evening and the 25th year of Out There, a festival of new theater.

Plus a John Zorn-a-thon that begins at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon and may end sometime after midnight at a nearby cathedral. Laurie Anderson is coming, and Deborah Hay, two members of the band Wilco, Ben Frost, Miguel Gutierrez, Hofesh Shechter Company, many women from Africa, Craig Taborn, Elevator Repair Service and more. Several visiting artists will work with local artists.

To describe everything in the season would take at least 13 pages (the length of the Walker’s press release). You can read about it all online. In a nutshell, the season honors established artists and encourages emerging ones, continues and builds relationships, promotes individualism and collaboration, and is both diverse and inclusive. It looks to be provocative, hilarious, beguiling and disturbing. It is not about staying in your comfort zone. Describing the season and its potential effects on the audience, Bither used the word “cellular.” Tickets are on sale now.

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As of May 14, 53 Minnesota arts organizations and hundreds of artists have endorsed the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign to defeat the marriage amendment. Two related events are scheduled for Monday, May 21. For artists and arts organizations: a kick-off Arts Coalition Meeting at the Pantages Theatre at 6 p.m. RSVP to Laurel Wales, regional organization director, at 651-757-5471 or here. For anyone interested: “Breaking Barriers,” an evening of music, poetry, and conversation to benefit Minnesotans United for All Families at the Bridgewater Community Room, 215 10th Ave. S. in Minneapolis, from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Expected to be on hand: Jim Detmar, Sally Wingert, Greta Oglesby, Tracey Maloney, Dennis Spears, Bradley Greenwald, John Calvin Rezmerski and others. FMI or RSVP to Roland Froyen.

AccordoPhoto by Tim RummelhoffAccordo in concert at Christ Church Lutheran.

After a successful third season, the chamber group Accordo has announced that it will return in 2012-13 with four concerts (up from three), starting Oct. 15 with works by Haydn, Bartók, Dohnányi and Mozart. The remaining concerts are scheduled for Dec. 3, Feb. 3, 2013, and May 6. Tickets go on sale July 23.

Formed in 2009, Accordo spent its first two seasons at the Southern. Now c0-presented by the Schubert Club, Northrop Concerts and Lectures, and Kate Nordstrum Projects, it has a new home at the architecturally significant, acoustically fine Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood, where Pastor Kristine Carlson and an army of volunteers have literally thrown open the doors. (Church members serve cookies and lemonade in the courtyard during intermission, and they caution you not to trip over steps on your way in.) It’s as if Accordo, left homeless by the Southern’s financial debacle, was adopted by three wise parents and a host of doting aunts and uncles. Attendance has been strong and reviews glowing. At the reception following Monday’s concert, this season’s closer, Schubert Club director Barry Kempton told the crowd that Accordo is nearly in the black.

Earlier this week, the Strib’s Graydon Royce wrote about how classical music is moving out of big concert halls and into small venues. He focused mostly on Accordo but also mentioned a concert earlier this year at the Bryant-Lake Bowl by members of the Minnesota Orchestra and musicians from New York. (That was a great night.) If you enjoy classical music in intimate, casual spaces, you don’t have to wait for Accordo’s next season or another rare event like the BLB concert. You can go to the Baroque Room on the second floor of the Northwestern Building in St. Paul’s Lowertown. This weekend is devoted to Bach. Tonight (Friday, May 18), Joseph Kuipers plays Bach’s Cello Suites 1, 3 and 5. Tomorrow (Saturday, May 19), the baroque ensemble Flying Forms — Marc Levine on baroque violin, Tami Morse on harpsichord, with Tulio Rondon on baroque cello — performs a program chosen from Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord. 8 p.m. both nights, tickets here or at the door. If you’re in Lowertown earlier on Saturday, you can drop in at noon for a free preview.

Now that the legislative session has ended, Legacy funding is safe — for a minute. Minnesota Citizens for the Arts points out that the new year will bring a new Legislature, minus several arts advocates who are retiring: Reps. Marion Greene and Bill Hilty, and Sens. Linda Higgins, Ken Kelash, Amy Koch, Keith Langseth, Geoff Michel and Gen Olson.

The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus has announced its new artistic director. Stepping into Dr. Stan Hill’s very big shoes: Ben Riggs, most recently artistic director of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus. Riggs takes over on Aug. 1.

After a $2.1-million, 18-month repair, refurbishment and restoration, the great organ of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral can be heard again. Originally installed in 1928 by the Welte Organ Co., the 84-year-old instrument now has a rebuilt blower. Pipes (there are more than 5,000) were repaired, tuned and reinstalled to be more accessible in the future. A public concert is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. featuring works by Handel, William Walton, and Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. Tickets at the door. The organ will be dedicated Sunday in worship services at 8, 9 and 11 a.m.

Minnesota poet and teacher John Caddy has received the 2012 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, a $50,000 cash award that recognizes individual Minnesota artists who have made significant contributions to the quality of the state’s cultural life. In a career spanning almost 50 years, Caddy has published several volumes of poetry, trained teachers at the U of M’s College of Education, helped found the Minnesota Poets in the Schools Program (now COMPAS), taught hundreds of poetry residencies, given countless readings, co-founded Sundog Center, a residential center for environmental education near Itasca State Park, and written a poem every weekday for the past several years. You can sign up here for a free online subscription.

Marilyn NelsonPhoto by Fran FunkMarilyn Nelson

On Monday evening (May 21), award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson, briefly of Minnesota (she taught for five years at St. Olaf and earned her Ph.D. from the U of M) will read for the Literary Witnesses series at Plymouth Congregational Church. The author or translator of 14 books, former poet laureate of Connecticut, and three-time National Book Award finalist, Nelson recently won the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal, presented annually for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. She writes about African-American history, including her own as the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman. Nelson will be accompanied by Twin Cities jazz pianist and 2010 McKnight fellow Bryan Nichols. 7 p.m. Free.

Tonight (Friday), students in Roseville Area High School’s jazz band will play music that no one else in North America is playing. In 1963, a multiracial group of musicians fled South Africa under apartheid and re-formed in London as the Brotherhood of Breath. By the mid-1970s, B of B was the European equivalent of the Sun Ra Arkestra: creative, mutable, improvisational. Roseville High band director (and jazz musician) Pat Moriarty learned about B of B from the Penguin Guide to Jazz and was fascinated by the blend of American jazz with South African rhythms and sounds. He decided his students should play this music and tracked down some charts from a London label that were used by a tribute band in the 1990s. The charts arrived in Roseville with parts missing and coffee stains blotting out notes. Student teaching assistants whipped them into shape. Imagine the sounds of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and you’ll have some idea of this music. 7:30 p.m. at Roseville Area High School. Free.

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Saturday is Minnesota Music Day at the Current. Midnight to midnight, all day long. Is Minnesota music in a golden age? MPR’s Chris Roberts thinks so. He looks specifically at pop music and makes a case for hometown pride.

The fifth annual .EDU Film Fest is happening now (Friday) at the St. Anthony Main Theater. Starting at 10:30 a.m., more than 60 films are screening in five categories: narrative, documentary, animation, music videos and experimental films. All were made by high-school students. Are the next Coen Brothers or Pete Docter (Pixar’s “Up”) in the house? Films end at 2:10, followed by a festival closing and awards from 2:20 to 3 p.m.

TU Dance, the acclaimed Minnesota dance company co-founded by Alvin Ailey alums Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, will perform three new works at the Cowles this weekend, starting tonight (Friday) and continuing through Sunday. The program includes two works by New York choreographers — “B Sessions” by Dwight Rhoden, set to the music of Beethoven, and an original commission by Camille A. Brown — and a new work, “January,” by Uri Sands. Earlier this year, TU Dance won a Sally Award. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets.

art-a-whirl tornado logoAlmost everyone knows this is Art-A-Whirl weekend. Now in its 17th year, the three-day party in Northeast Minneapolis claims to be the largest open studio tour in the country. You could spend a whole day in the Northrup King Building, but try to get out to other places like the California Building, the Casket Arts Building, and some of the many smaller locations. Meet some artists, buy some art, take a trolley, eat a brat, listen to live music. I’ve done some damage at past Art-A-Whirls and don’t regret it a bit. Fun fact: Walt Dziedzic, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner and former City Council member (and before then, a Minneapolis police officer) who retired in 2010, is credited with getting Art-A-Whirl off the ground by finding funding in the early days.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a pirate ship in the Science Museum of Minnesota. It’s the centerpiece of the “Real Pirates” exhibition, which runs through Labor Day. The wreck of the “Whydah” was found off the coast of Cape Code in 1984 by underwater explorer (and former high school teacher) Barry Clifford. More than 100,000 artifacts from the “Whydah” have been recovered and conserved to date; 200 are included in the exhibition. On Thursday, May 24, Clifford will give a lecture at the museum called “The History and Recovery of the Whydah.” 7 p.m. For tickets, call 651-221-9444.

Finally, I’m not writing next Tuesday. I’ll return on Friday.