MN Music Hall of Fame named; updates on orchestra lockouts

CC/Flickr/J. Stephen Conn
The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame has inducted a dizzyingly eclectic array of Minnesota musicians and music organizations into its ranks, from Bob Dylan to the Minneapolis Police Band, “Pipedreams” host Michael Barone, Libby Larson, the Andrews Sisters, the Trashmen, the Steeles, Minnesota Opera and Prince.

You have to love the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. Over the past 24 years, beginning in 1989, it has inducted a dizzyingly eclectic array of Minnesota musicians and music organizations into its ranks, from Bob Dylan to the Minneapolis Police Band, “Pipedreams” host Michael Barone, Libby Larson, the Andrews Sisters, the Trashmen, the Steeles, Minnesota Opera and Prince. This year’s inductees, honored Friday at a ceremony and banquet in New Ulm, are accordionist Leonard “Skeets” Langley, folk/blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover, country-western guitarist LeRoy Glazier, the 35-member men’s chorus the Chord-Ayers, concertina/accordion artist Jerry Minar, and country-rock band Canoise. Two accordionists! Fritz Busch has more details in the New Ulm Journal.

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council passed a unanimous resolution praising the Minnesota Orchestra, encouraging management and the musicians to get back to the negotiating table and discouraging “lockout” as a means to resolve the current labor dispute. In a press release later that day, and by direct email to the orchestra’s board of directors on Saturday, the musicians offered to meet with the board on Monday. (A meeting between management and the board was already scheduled for noon that day.) On Monday morning, board chair Jon Campbell sent an email rejecting the musicians’ offer to meet, saying, in part: “It is our hope that we all might avoid playing games through the media, respect the negotiating process, and return to the table soon.” Shortly before noon, management issued a statement: “The Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors … will accept the offer of its Musician Negotiating Committee to have its Chair address the full Board after musicians have returned to the bargaining table with a substantive proposal that addresses the organization’s financial challenges.”

The musicians say they have made three counterproposals. Management views all three as suggestions and delay tactics. Language aside, if they don’t sit down together soon and reach an agreement, more concerts will certainly be canceled, probably into the holidays. Meanwhile, in an op-ed for Monday’s Strib, Peter Hutchinson (former Bush Foundation president, Minnesota finance commissioner, and gubernatorial candidate) steps back and considers both sides. “The status quo is over,” he writes. “But we don’t want an orchestra that is only good enough and cheap.”

Along with canceling all concerts through December, the SPCO has called off the composer conversation with Nicola Campogrande scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13, at MPR. No worries about refunds (tickets were free), but don’t show up. Depending on whom you talk to, Reid Anderson’s performances in the new Liquid Music series, originally set for Dec. 14-15 at the SPCO Center, have either been postponed or canceled and will be rescheduled (or “the goal will be to reschedule”) for later this season. Anderson will perform with members of the SPCO, who are currently locked out. For the first Liquid Music events this weekend at the Walker, Laurie Anderson gave a solo show that did not involve any SPCO musicians.

“Penumbra Theatre has found itself in a nail-biting drama,” begins Rohan Preston’s thoughtful look at the St. Paul playhouse in Sunday’s Strib. Facing big money troubles, Penumbra canceled its fall season, cut full-time staff from 16 to 10, needs $340,000 by the end of the year, faces competition from other theaters including Pillsbury House, plus founder and artistic director Lou Bellamy will be stepping down. Will it survive, shrink, or shut its doors forever? “Any diminishment of Penumbra would be a tragedy,” Preston notes. “The theater is too important to let wither.”

If you want to help, you might attend one or more nights of Home for the Holidays, Penumbra’s winter benefit, presented by and starring theater regulars and friends. On Dec. 3: Austene Van’s “Divas of December,” with Jamecia Bennett, Yolande Bruce, Ginger Commodore, Debbie Duncan, and others. Dec. 10: Dennis Spears’ “One Holiday Wish,” with Moore by Four, Greta Oglesby, and special guests. Dec. 17: “Hot Chocolate: The Musical,” written and directed by Austene Van, featuring Julius Collins III, Sanford Moore and Thomasina Petrus. “Hot Chocolate” drew crowds to the Park Square last year. All company members and guest artists are donating their time. If fundraising events are successful, Penumbra will resume programming in March 2013.  Tickets here or call 651-224-3180.

Ivey winner Regina Marie Williams
Photo by Tom Wallace
Ivey winner Regina Marie Williams plays Eartha Kitt at the Capri


Dennis Spears’ delightful “Legends” series kicks off its 2012-13 season at the Capri with a tribute to Eartha Kitt. Ivey winner Regina Marie Williams (whose Nina Simone concert last year was amazing) seems like a perfect fit for the sensual, unforgettable Kitt. Dan Chouinard will play piano, and we can expect Kitt’s greatest hits – songs like “C’est Si Bon,” “Guess Who I Saw Today,” and “Santa Baby” (purr, purr). Because Spears likes to play with words, the show is called “Eartha … The Whole Kitt & Kaboodle.” (Dennis, please!) Saturday (Nov. 10) at 7 p.m., Sunday (Nov. 11) at 3 p.m. Tickets here.

After seven months of hard work, the four Naked Stages fellows announced by Pillsbury House + Theatre earlier this year are almost ready for their close-ups. On Dec. 5-8, actor and musician Ahanti Young presents “Aklound Sowell,” a program of comedy, music, dance, and poetry spotlighting our culture’s invisible people and the humanity beneath the stereotypes. In “Bagman,” artists, teacher, musician, and baggage slinger David T. Steinman uses live music, masked characters, storytelling, and projected images to reveal the life of an airline baggage handler. On Dec. 12-15, performance artist Jeffry Lusiak weaves questions of assimilation with queer identity in “A.SM.IL.8,” a collage of live performance and video projection. Directed by Bedlam Theatre’s Maren Ward, “Devon” by Zoe Sommers Haas introduces a character who’s looking for love. FMI and tickets. (pick-your-price/pay-what-you-can).

More happy news from the Minnesota Opera. Not the revised Dominick Argento “Dream of Valentino” we told you about last week, but another new commission, this one scheduled for 2014-15. Kevin Puts, whose “Silent Night” premiered in the 2011-12 season and won the Pulitzer Prize for music, will reunite with librettist Mark Campbell for “The Manchurian Candidate,” a political thriller based on the 1959 book by Richard Condon that became the famous 1962 film starring Laurence Harvey, Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. “Strong characters and tantalizing drama make for the best operas, and this story has those in spades,” says the company’s artistic director, Dale Johnson. In an interview with MPR’s Euan Kerr, composer Puts hints at “a very fast-paced relentless kind of drive with a dark propulsive energy moving through it.” People love “Manchurian Candidate”-type stories about brainwashed ex-POWs turned assassins; that’s what Showtime’s “Homeland” is, and it swept the Emmys in September.

Walker Mini Golf
Courtesy of the Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center wants you to design a mini-golf hole.

For artists and miniature golf enthusiasts (you can be both): the Walker Art Center wants you to design a mini-golf hole. Next year is the 25th anniversary of the Sculpture Garden, and we can’t think of a better, more scenic place to play the, um, sport, except maybe Pirate’s Cove in the Wisconsin Dells. The Walker’s course will include nine holes and will be open to the public from Memorial Day through Labor Day; over 50,000 club-wielding players are expected. This year’s theme: “Garden.” Stipend: $3,500. Deadline for submissions: Nov. 30. Individual artists may submit designs; collaborations are encouraged. Artists must be based in Minnesota and registered with mnartists.org. Interested? Come to an info session at the Walker this Thursday (Nov. 8) at 7 p.m. FMI.

Opening tomorrow: Minnesota’s first all-Native American musical. Co-produced by the New Native and Bedlam Theatres, showing at the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, “2012: The Musical” is a sassy peek at the end of the world, inspired by the end of the Mayan calendar. The story takes place on Franklin Avenue through the perspective of characters drawn (and caricatured) from the Twin Cities Native American community. The cast is all local Native American actors; the play was written by Navajo playwright Rhiana Yazzie, artistic director for New Native Theater. “We’re celebrating a little known secret,” she says, “that Native people are very funny.” Expect Indian alien ancestors, rock star ancestors, and dancing neon buffalo. FMI and tickets.

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