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At the Fair: Musicians launching ‘Save the SPCO’ initiative, Brother Ali, ‘Read & Ride’

ALSO: St. Paul plans outdoor concert for Sept.; The Bad Plus has new CD; American Pottery Festival Sept. 7-9; and more.

evelina chao
Evelina Chao

On Saturday, the Pi Press website published an open letter from Evelina Chao, assistant principal viola with the SPCO, titled “Fearing for ‘our orchestra, as we know it.’ ” It seems the news from the negotiating table is not good. Chao writes: “The SPCO management and board have proposed wage cuts of 57 percent and 67 percent as well as reducing drastically the number of concerts involving our full ensemble . . . Corporations reduce costs by outsourcing work. We believe our management envisions reducing costs by making wages untenable for existing musicians, causing them to leave, and by importing people from elsewhere to perform as SPCO musicians on a per-service basis.” Today at the State Fair, musicians from the SPCO are launching a “Save the SPCO” initiative with a free concert and fliers. The initiative aims to raise awareness of contract troubles and gather support for the orchestra. At 12:30 p.m. on the stage in front of the AFL-CIO building at Dan Patch and Cooper.

On a likewise cheery note, you’ve probably already heard that if elected, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney plans to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and PBS. More here.

Is Prince working with the city of St. Paul to stage an outdoor show in September? That was the buzz this weekend. By Friday afternoon, the Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider had confirmed that “there will be an outdoor concert somewhere in downtown St. Paul in early September.” With someone. We’re supposed to hear an official announcement by the end of this week. A Prince concert would draw a few people.

The Bad Plus, great favorites among area jazz fans and regulars at the Dakota each Christmas (although this year they won’t perform on Christmas night), have a new CD due out Sept. 25 called “Made Possible.” The nine tracks include eight originals, a nod to the masterful drummer Paul Motian (“Victoria”), who died last November, and the addition of synth and electronic drum sounds. We’re ready. Here’s a video released last week, filmed by Noah Hutton, son of Timothy Hutton and Debra Winger (he also made the film “King for Two Days” about TBP drummer Dave King, which was featured in the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival in April). TBP is King, who lives here (and plays out fairly often with The Dave King Trucking Company); bassist Reid Anderson, who grew up in Minneapolis; and Ethan Anderson, originally from Menomonie, Wis.

Feel like another video? Here’s the latest from Meet Minneapolis, a bouncy celebration of fall that makes Minneapolis look like a terrific place to visit. Which it is. Stay tuned and you’ll also see Summer, Winter, and Spring.

Brother Ali drops his new CD, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” on Sept. 18. Here’s the title track, which he describes as “an observation on the culture of murder and death and our society” and “a critique of our hypocrisy as it relates to the taking of innocent lives.” Brother Ali is scheduled for the Fair on Wednesday at 4 p.m at MPR’s booth.

Artists, as you meander through the Fair with corn dog in hand, stay alert and fully open to the muse. For the 10th consecutive year, the Fair is asking local artists to apply to create the official commemorative art. (Go here to see a gallery of past art, including this year’s.) The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Oct. 24. Once applications are received, a panel of judges invites a short list of applicants to present and share their artist statements and sketches or drawings. The artist selected receives a $5,000 commission and the pleasure of seeing his or her art on the commemorative poster and other merch, sales of which benefit the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. Past winners include Mary GrandPré, who illustrated all the covers for the U.S. editions of the “Harry Potter” books.

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Tonight at sunset on the rooftop of the Calhoun Square parking ramp in Uptown, you can watch “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for free, thanks to Calhoun Square and the Walker Art Center. Sounds like fun. Read the fine print on the Facebook page  (“Bring your blankets and cushions for seating. Sorry, no lawn chairs, coolers and alcoholic beverages”) and it sounds a bit less like fun. Still, it’s free, and somehow that movie never gets old. Start time between 8 – 8:15 p.m. Enter at Lake St. and Girard.

Thursday at the U of M: “In the Footsteps of Little Crow: A conversation with Curt Brown, Kate Parry and Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair.” If you read the Strib’s recent six-part series on the 150th anniversary of the US-Dakota War; if you attended (or plan to attend) the Minnesota History Center’s exhibit, “The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862,” this is for you. Brown wrote the Strib series (a project that took him a year); Parry is the Strib’s managing editor; St. Clair is a member of the Lower Sioux Indian Community and visiting associate professor with the U’s Department of American Indian Studies. 7 p.m., Nolte Center for Continuing Education (315 Pillsbury Drive SE, East Bank), room 125.

maria schneider
Maria Schneider

It’s Maria Schneider’s world; we just live in it. On Monday, Sept. 24, the Grammy-winning composer, arranger, conductor and big band leader – and Minnesota native, born and raised in Windom – will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Minnesota School of Music during its Fall Convocation. The program also includes a conversation on “Creativity for Music Careers” with soprano Dawn Upshaw and others, and a performance of Schneider’s music by the U of M Jazz Ensemble I. 10 a.m. at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, free and open to the public. Schneider is in residence at the U from Sept. 24 – Oct. 1, during which time she and Upshaw plan to record the song cycle Schneider was commissioned to write by the SPCO, “Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories,” which had its world premiere here in 2008 and was performed at Carnegie Hall in 2011. (Here’s my 2008 interview with Schneider and Upshaw.) On Friday, Sept. 28, Schneider will launch the new Composer Conversation Series at MPR. That night and the next, she and Upshaw will perform “Carlos Drummond” with the SPCO in Wayzata and St. Paul; Schneider will also lead the orchestra in works by Samuel Barber and John Harbison. FMI and tickets. She’ll return to Minnesota in late October to spend two nights at the Dakota (Oct. 30-31) with her jazz orchestra. FMI and tickets

The “Rembrandt in America” exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts closes Sunday, Sept. 16. We’re not kidding when we say you have to see this, and if you don’t you’ll regret it for the rest of your natural life. Here are ten reasons to go. MIA is offering extended viewing hours Sept. 4-16. Tickets here. If this Thursday works for you, start with Rembrandt and end with an hour of conversation and improvisation when MIA artists-in-residence T2P2 (The Theater of Public Policy) take on guest Marianne Combs, arts reporter for MPR. 7 p.m. in the Pillsbury Auditorium. Tickets here

The wonderful and amazing Museum Adventure Pass program ends this weekend. During the program’s six years, more than 700,000 library users checked out passes from their local libraries, then got in free to places like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum, American Swedish Institute, Minnesota History Center and Minnesota Zoo. Participating destinations donated more than 1.5 million admissions. A lot of people who can’t afford museum memberships or admission fees had the chance to walk through a lot of big doors. We’re sad to see the program go and asked Sally Lederer, community relations manager for MELSA, to comment.

“When the program started, there were 24 participating organizations,” Lederer explained. “This year there were 17. We always wanted to have a lot of things to offer. Many of the most popular passes would be gone right away, and we didn’t want people lining up and leaving empty-handed. Also, as the program became smaller, some of the smaller organizations were having capacity problems. Anything we do is systemwide, and we have 100 branches. That’s a lot of passes, and a lot of free admissions. It felt like a good time to rethink the model.” May we hint gently at the possibility of something happening for Museum Month next year? “We’re looking for ways to continue our partnerships,” Lederer said. So we’ll see.

Bring your library card to the Fair on Wednesday (Aug. 29) for a discounted admission, get carded at the Read & Ride Tent in Carousel Park, and be part of the first-ever Library Card Flash Mob at noon. When you think of it, there’s nothing more dangerous than an all-ages public armed with library cards. An entire day of activities and entertainment is in the works; learn more here.

Andrew Martin	Ooze of Blues, 2012, Slip-cast porcelain, underglaze, polychrome g
Courtesy of Northern Clay Center
Andrew Martin Ooze of Blues, 2012, Slip-cast porcelain, underglaze, polychrome glazes, oxidation fired to cone 6, 9″ x 14.5″ x 4″

Northern Clay Center’s annual American Pottery Festival takes place Sept. 7-9, prying potters from across the U.S. away from their studios to mix and mingle with collectors and people who just like pots. Thanks to the Northern Clay Center, the Minnesota Potters’ Tour, the exceptional ceramics collection at the Weisman, and the fact that many fine potters have made their homes in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we are a national center for pottery. The festival features 24 guest artists, 50 sales gallery artists, workshops, slide talks, and special “collector adventures” including a tour of the Weisman’s ceramics show by director Lyndel King and a visit to the home of our internationally famous resident potter, Warren MacKenzie. Since the topic of placemaking is as hot as an anagama kiln, there’s even a closing lecture on “Pots & Place Making: Artist Spaces and Urban Redevelopment.” FMI and tickets.