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Update: Minnesota Orchestra cancels holiday concerts, but musicians schedule two of their own
The Minnesota Orchestra has canceled Irvin Mayfield's "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

Update: On Friday afternoon, the locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra announced they will play two concerts in December at the Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota. Former Minnesota Orchestra music director Edo de Waart will conduct. The program will include the Bach Double Violin Concerto, with soloists Jorja Fleezanis and Erin Keefe, the former and current concertmasters, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy,” with soprano Ellie Dehn, mezzo Adriana Zabala, tenor Thomas Cooley, and bass-baritone Timothy Noble. The concerts are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16. Tickets are available online or by phone at 612-624-2345.

The Minnesota Orchestra has canceled more concerts — as expected, given the moribund contract negotiations between management and musicians. As of Thursday (Nov. 8), gone are Handel’s “Messiah” (Dec. 13-16), Irvin Mayfield’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (Dec. 8), and Tonic Sol-fa’s annual holiday show. “Celtic Woman” (Dec. 7) and “The Tenors” (Dec. 19) will be rescheduled for dates TBA. “Chris Botti Christmas” (Dec. 14) has moved to November 2013; Botti, currently on the road with Barbra Streisand, is a busy guy. “A Scandinavian Christmas” (Dec. 20 and 22) and Doc Severinsen’s “Jingle Bell Doc” (Dec. 21 and 23) have been juggled a bit within the same time frame. Ticketholders will be contacted directly about the cancellations and rescheduled concerts.

The musicians responded quickly with a sharply-worded statement: “At least the millionaires and billionaires of the National Hockey League are talking,” said Tim Zavadil, head of the musicians’ negotiating committee. “The board has rejected our offer to meet multiple times, they have rejected arbitration, and they have rejected an independent financial analysis. Now they have rejected Mayor R.T. Rybak and the Minneapolis City Council by extending the lockout and canceling more concerts.”

Meanwhile, east of the river, the musicians and management of the SPCO were meeting.  And how did that go? Here’s a statement from Lynn Erickson, co-chair of the Musicians of the SPCO negotiations committee: “At today’s meeting, the Musicians proposed a new approach to the negotiations … Regrettably, Management refused to even consider any reduction in overall musician compensation less than 33% and any reduction in the size of the Orchestra that is not permanent and binding. Management’s unwillingness to negotiate a reasonable resolution has led to a complete breakdown in talks. No new meetings are scheduled.”

Who is Cindy Sherman? Aristocrat or ingénue? Aging socialite or femme fatale? Victim or clown? Milkmaid or pin-up? All of these and/or none of these? Through photographs of herself, all untitled, none autobiographical, Sherman has become one of the most important and influential figures in contemporary art. In 2011, “Untitled #96” (1981) sold at a New York auction for nearly $4 million. There hasn’t been a museum retrospective of Sherman’s work for 15 years, but the Walker opens one this weekend, with 170 photos from the 1970s to the present. Tonight’s “Walker After Hours” party is Sherman-themed. An opening-day panel discussion happens tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 10). A screening of a film that has inspired her work takes place in January. The exhibition continues through Feb. 17, 2013.

David Byrne
Photo by John WhitingDavid Byrne in Minneapolis

It’s not often one sees David Byrne ride a bicycle through a crowd – at least, not in Minnesota. Those who went to the opening Monday at Aria of his large-scale, interactive sound installation “Playing the Building” had that pleasure. Byrne, who attended Laurie Anderson’s sold-out performance of “Dirtday!” at the Walker on Sunday, had signed two bikes to be auctioned off as a benefit for Full Cycle, a nonprofit bike shop in south Minneapolis that provides services to homeless youth. “Playing the Building” has journeyed from Stockholm to New York City and London; it will be at Aria through Dec. 4. Open daily (Sunday-Wednesday 12-7 p.m., Thursday-Friday 12-10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.). Stop in, sit at the keyboard, and play the building’s structure: the metal beams and pillars, heating pipes and water pipes.

Aria, the former home of the late, lamented Theatre de la Jeune Lune, is now owned by developer Peter Remes’ real estate company First & First, which also brought us the plaza at Icehouse in Minneapolis. Its latest urban redevelopment project, now under way, is The Broadway, a former paper warehouse at Broadway and Central that will house craft brewer 612Brew. Mr. Remes, would you mind taking a look at Block E?

Next Rooms
Photo by Michal DanielEmily Gunyou Halaas as Sabrina Daldry and Christina Baldwin as Catherine Givings in a scene from “In the Next Room.”

Sponsored by the Schubert Club, Theoroi is a select group of “arts ambassadors” ages 21-35 who attend a curated series of arts events and spread the word through social media. We’ve invited them to tell us why certain events are worth seeing (or not). Tonight (Friday, Nov. 9) they’re going to the Jungle Theater for Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room.” Rea Rettarath explains why she’s looking forward to the play: “Known as the ‘vibrator play,’ this work places a ridiculously fun and naughty topic (sex! orgasms!) in the ideal setting (Victorian) for history-lesson-learning.
 Local reviewers are speaking of its passion, emotional depth, and profound look at the challenge of intimacy. Also of the spectacular costumes. And creative set design. And remarkable character interactions. The play was nominated for three Tony awards, the cast is impressive, and director Sarah Rasmussen has set the mood for an electrifying evening of theater.
The play concerns a goodly doctor in the early days of the vibrator, when the device was used to bring women to ‘paroxysm’ as a clinical treatment for ‘hysteria.’ Tantalized patients, dissatisfied wives, and the doctor himself bring us through an evening of discovery, liberation, and love.” FMI and tickets.

People are talking and critics are raving about the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “The Tempest,” the opera by Thomas Adés based on Shakespeare’s play about magic, a usurped duke, spirits and monsters. Ethan Iverson calls it “the great new opera of our time.” Here’s the trailer, a preview with director Robert Lepage, and the incredibly high “Ariel’s Aria” from a preview performance. “The Tempest” is part of the Met’s 2012-13 Live in HD season, so you can see it streaming live this Saturday (Nov. 10) at any of several theaters in Minnesota. Go here and enter your ZIP code to find the one nearest you. The broadcast begins at 11:55 a.m. Have a popcorn brunch.

Anna Bolena set design
“Anna Bolena” set design rendering by Neil Patel

At the Minnesota Opera, Donizetti’s gorgeous “Anna Bolena” opens Saturday (Nov. 10) and ends next Sunday (Nov. 18) – just five performances. The story of Henry VIII’s second wife concludes the opera’s Tudor trilogy. Kyle Ketelsen (fresh from his role as sexy toreador Escamillo in the Met’s “Carmen”) stars as Henry VIII, with Keri Alkema as Anna. (Ketelsen was last at the Ordway in 2009, singing the role of the devil in Gounod’s “Faust.”) Michael Christie conducts. FMI and tickets.

Closing Sunday (Nov. 11) at the Park Square: “King Lear.” Director Peter Moore placed Shakespeare’s play – written in the early 1600s, set in ancient Celtic times – during America’s Prohibition and the birth of organized crime. The unusual staging mostly works and has the effect of refreshing the play, especially if you’ve seen it before, but it also sometimes gets in the way. Always in Shakespeare, the play’s the thing, the production the wrapper it comes in. Reviewing the film version of “Richard III” (1996), which Richard Loncraine set in an alternative fascist England in the 1930s, Roger Ebert wrote, “I imagine the playwright himself would have cared little about the sets and costumes of a staging so long as his words were respected.”

Moore’s “Lear” respects the words, but it has some head-scratching moments. The king’s noblemen are too gangsterish, too much like made men. The cigarette-smoking, martini-glass wielding daughters Regan and Goneril (Stacia Rice and Jennifer Blagen; Elena Giannetti took over for Blegan earlier this week) are a bit too gleefully wicked. And there’s too much gunfire in the form of blanks overly loud for the Park Square’s size (I stuck my fingers in my ears). But then – make that BUT THEN – there’s Raye Birk as Lear. A magnificent Lear, whose howls of anguish, frustration and rage made my hair stand up. Over the course of the play, he goes from dinner jackets to rags; he could wear a bunny suit and still be convincing. I saw the play two weeks ago and I’m still thinking about Birk and how great he was. So it’s not a perfect “Lear,” but it’s still “Lear,” and Birk nails the role. Plus it’s gutsy. See it while you can. Tickets here or call 651-291-7005.

King Lear
Photo by Petronella YtsmaRaye Birk in the title role of “King Lear.”

Speaking of gutsy, St. Paul’s Gonzo Group Theatre sent an email earlier this week with “Gonzo Takes on the Guthrie” as subject header. While the Guthrie presents Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night” on its main thrust stage, Gonzo will mount its own production in the main hall of the James J. Hill House, midway through the Guthrie’s run. In the Guthrie’s corner, Helen Carey and Peter Michael Goetz; in Gonzo’s, Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkins. To quote TV’s “Batman,” “Biff blap kapow!” What is Gonzo thinking? “That in this town, most of the best work being done, is being done by some of the least known companies.”

The Minnesota Orchestra’s loss is the Dakota’s gain as clarinetists Anat Cohen and Evan Christopher, originally scheduled for the Orchestra’s canceled Clarinet Festival concert tonight (Friday, Nov. 9), meet at the Dakota tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 10). Both are terrifically exciting young players. Multi-reedist Cohen comes out of the Israel/New York jazz scene; Christopher’s roots are sunk deep in the New Orleans jazz tradition. These could be among the best jazz shows we’ll see this year. 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets online or call 612-332-5299.

On Sunday (Nov. 11), the Musical Offering performs a Veterans’ Day concert of Viennese music by Ries, Mahler, Schnittke, and Brahms at Sundin Music Hall on the Hamline University campus. All veterans and active duty military personnel are invited to attend at no charge as guests of the musicians, most of whom also play with the Minnesota Orchestra. Pick up your complimentary ticket by request at the box office on the day of the concert; no reservations or special identification required. For non-veterans and military personnel, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, available here or at the box office on the day of the concert. 3 p.m., 1531 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul.

On Monday (Nov. 12), Sherman Alexie, author of “Reservation Blues,” “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” “War Dances,” and other books, winner of the American Book Award, National Book Award, and PEN/Faulkner Award, reads from his latest, “Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories,” at Plymouth Church as part of its Literary Witness series. 7 p.m., free.

Musicians, this is for you: on Tuesday (Nov. 13), Chamber Music America is offering a workshop called “Internet for Musicians 201,” an overview of Internet promotion, including branding and communication strategies. The workshop will be led by vocalist/composer Carla Lynne Hall, founding music-industry columnist (“The Biz”) at Vibe magazine. New Yorkers can go in person; you can stream it live at 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. An online chat with Hall follows on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. Register here for the workshop, here for the chat.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/09/2012 - 11:13 am.

    The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra must start to realize that they are losing support out here among the unwashed, because all these months they have steadfastly refused to present a firm alternative proposal to their Board. Not weak “can’t we just talk?” proposals or “can’t we just keep playing?” proposals and not “can’t we get an arbitrator?” They need to bite the bullet and come up with cuts to their salaries and benefits and perks and other job features that will save some money. So far, they’ve stonewalled. Look where it’s got them.

    Play the labor negotiation game.

  2. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 11/09/2012 - 04:56 pm.

    On the contrary…

    Their October 18 concert (which I did not attend only because I was out of the country) sold out, and they have over 5,000 “likes” on their Facebook page, and that’s without their most senior audience members, who wouldn’t be Facebook-savvy in the first place.

    The Orchestra does not have to convince “the great unwashed” (what an arrogant term) of anything. It has to have the support of its subscribers and occasional attendees.

    As a subscriber, here’s what I think. The musicians have agreed to submit to arbitration, which means that they stand a risk of losing and being forced to take the cuts anyway. However, management is refusing arbitration, which suggests to me that they have something to hide, because an arbiter would insist on looking at their financials.

    Apparently the musicians suspect that not all is on the up-and-up with Orchestra management, so they are willing to take the gamble of submitting to arbitration.

    If everything is as the Orchestra management claims, then the managers should welcome arbitration as an opportunity to prove their case.

    They should not expect the musicians to commit hara-kiri by making possibly unnecessary sacrifices. They should not penalize the audiences by refusing the pay-and-play offer.

    By the way, again as a subscriber, I resent being subjected to fundraising e-mails and letters from Orchestra management when I haven’t yet been able to go to any of the concerts I paid for.

  3. Submitted by Thierry Carlson on 11/10/2012 - 09:10 am.

    Support for the musicians is stronger than ever!

    Connie, I’m not sure who you mean by “the unwashed” but if you mean classical music fans who haven’t bathed this week, you are most certainly wrong. The musicians are much loved and admired and the support for them is undiminished. On the contrary, the national reputation of the managers and board members is plummeting as this lock-out continues. Many are suggesting that MBA business schools will hold up this labor dispute as the way NOT to go about dealing with musicians and their audiences.

    By the way, the musicians’ website is down this Saturday morning. To get tickets for the Minnesota Orchestra concerts in December, go to the Ted Mann Concert Hall website:

  4. Submitted by Amy Adams on 11/14/2012 - 12:49 pm.

    I think you meant “gaining” support, not losing…

    Connie, the ones being locked out are not doing the stonewalling. It looks as if management is contentedly sitting back, following their script of cancelling the season twenty concerts at a time.
    Did they ever plan on having this season? I mean, look how much they’re saving, in not having a Handel’s Messiah. They’re “saving” a lot of money from being spent in the local economy, too.
    Maybe Michael Henson, still receiving his $400K + income, can go drink a holiday toast to the “unwashed”…

  5. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 11/15/2012 - 11:13 am.

    And meanwhile…

    the musicians’ independent concerts scheduled for the weekend of December 15 are nearly sold out. In fact, the Saturday one may be sold out already.

    Everyone should enjoy such a “loss of support.”

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