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Orchestra-lockout testimony at Capitol; ‘Johnny Baseball’ and ‘Doubt’ to open

ALSO: SPCO players to perform baroque concertos; a birthday bash at Artists’ Quarter; and more.

Minnesota Orchestra musicians Tony Ross (cello), far left; Doug Wright (trombone), Catherine Schubilske (violin) and Burt Hara (clarinet) testify before the House Commerce Committee.
Photo by John Whiting

Lockouts were the topic of Wednesday’s state House Commerce Committee meeting. The committee, chaired by Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, and an overflow crowd heard testimony about the economic impact of the recently ended NHL lockout on St. Paul businesses and the devastating effects of the 18-month Crystal Sugar lockout on the Moorhead community. But much of the meeting was devoted to the lockouts of the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, neither of which seems near to ending.

We heard first from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who wondered aloud how “we as cities can … have a voice when there is so much at stake.” Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson reiterated the orchestra management’s position since the lockout began –cuts must be made – and thanked the Legislature for the $14 million in state bonding support for Orchestra Hall’s renovation, which currently employs 130 union members of the building trades. SPCO president Dobson West was present but did not testify.

Minnesota Orchestra principal trombonist Doug Wright spoke next, surrounded by cellist Tony Ross, second violinist Catherine Schubilske, and clarinetist Burt Hara. Wright focused in part on how the lockout and other decisions made by management are affecting Minnesota’s children and school groups. He called the lockout “disrespectful to students” and announced that “the musicians themselves are now making plans to produce, pay for, and perform outreach and education concerts over the coming weeks to fill the void.”

With the SPCO’s negotiations no longer under a media blackout, bassoonist Carol Mason Smith could report on the musicians’ latest offer to management, delivered Tuesday: that the musicians will agree to go from 34 to 28 players, “only if management commits to giving us a real voice in decisions about the rebuilding of our complement.” Artistic input has been a major sticking point since negotiations began.

orchestra testimony
Photo by John Whiting
Two citizens’ groups spoke at the hearing, calling for the lockouts to end.

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As mentioned in Monday’s Artscape, supporters of both orchestras are getting restless, and we heard from members of two citizens’ groups who want the lockouts to end. Speaking for Orchestrating Excellence, Laura Greeno cited specific financial shortfalls experienced to date by Minneapolis businesses during the Minnesota Orchestra lockouts: $70,000 by a single parking facility, more than $100,000 by a single Minneapolis restaurant, up to $1 million for restaurants on south Nicollet Mall. Save Our SPCO members Mark Thoson and Sarah Nagle reported that the SPCO management and board have responded to none of the communications they have sent since January, including personal letters and a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures delivered January 8. “Let me repeat that,” Thoson said. “None of our communications has been responded to … We wish [management] would write back to us and engage with the audience whom they are charged to serve.” Nagle added, “I know of no Management 101 textbook which advocates both destroying your product and disrespecting both present and future customers.” 

Committee chair Atkins commented on the “epidemic of lockouts” and noted that “legislation is being contemplated to prevent or disincentivize the probability of lockouts.” No further details were provided.

The Musicians of the SPCO will play an evening of Italian baroque concertos (including Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”) tonight (Friday, Jan. 25) at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. Tickets here. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will give a Grammy Celebration Concert conducted by Osmo Vänskä, hosted by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and orchestra benefactor Judy Dayton, on Feb. 1 at the Convention Center. Tickets here or call 612-343-3390. 

Jack Edwards has died. The prodigiously talented costume designer ran the Guthrie’s costume shop from 1971-1989 and worked for 12 years for Dayton’s/Marshall Field’s, creating costumes for the annual holiday shows and flower shows. Along the way, he made costumes for Prince, Holidazzle, the Super Bowl halftime and Lorie Line. Last year, the Goldstein hosted a retrospective of his work called “Character in Costume,” and Kristin Tillotson wrote a profile for the Star Tribune. Graydon Royce has written his obituary.

Johnny Baseball
Photo by Petronella Ytsma
“Johnny Baseball” opens at the Park Square on Friday.

Tonight is opening night for “Johnny Baseball” at the Park Square. Zach Curtis stars as Babe Ruth in the new musical by Robert Reale and Willie Reale about baseball, love, and the Curse of the Bambino. This is the first time Park Square has been involved in developing a new musical with national ambitions; “Johnny Baseball” premiered in Boston in 2010 and will move to New York after its Park Square run. It’s also the first time in Park Square history when projected scenery is key to the set design. Five projectors using three large screens move the play from 1919 to 2004. Joshua James Campbell is Johnny, a hard-luck right-hander for the 1919 Red Sox; Timotha Lanae is Daisy, the African-American blues singer who steals his heart. Curtis, a St. Louis Park native and Park Square regular, is a big baseball fan; here’s Kathy Berdan’s story for the Pi Press. Both Reales will be in the house, and if you stick around for the opening night party in the lobby after the show, you can say hi. Through Feb. 10. FMI and tickets.

Kenny Horst
MinnPost photo by Pamela Espeland
Kenny Horst

Happening tonight downstairs from the Park Square: Kenny Horst’s 70th birthday bash. What’s downstairs from the Park Square? The Artists’ Quarter, one of the 100 great jazz clubs in the world, according to DownBeat magazine. Who’s Kenny Horst? Owner of and regular drummer for the venerable St. Paul jazz club that remains a real jazz club. Prince will never play there, but even if he did, Horst wouldn’t charge $250 a head to hear him. Maybe $30 or $40, but then he’d throw in a buffet. Horst grew up on St. Paul’s West Side and still lives there; he believes jazz should be available and affordable, and he stubbornly makes it so. He’s turning 70, which is no big deal for jazz; Lorraine Gordon, who still runs the Village Vanguard in New York, will be 91 this year. The great drummer Roy Haynes, Horst’s good friend, is 87. (Over the years, Haynes has celebrated several of his own birthdays at the AQ.) Legendary jazz/blues singer and pianist Mose Allison, who plays the AQ once a year or thereabouts, is 85. So Horst is practically a spring chicken. Every jazz musician in the Twin Cities owes a debt to him, and many are expected to pay (and play) their respects. The party starts at 8 p.m.

Opens tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 26) at the Ordway: “Doubt,” the opera. This is a big deal because 1) it’s a world premiere, 2) it’s a Minnesota Opera commission (the commission just before this one, “Silent Night,” won the Pulitzer), 3) the libretto is by John Patrick Shanley, who also wrote the Pulitzer-winning play and the Oscar-nominated film on which the opera is based, 4) the music is by Douglas J. Cuomo, who wrote the “Sex and the City” theme and scored “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and 5) the Minnesota Opera is on a roll. Now in its 50th season, it’s thriving, sassy, taking risks (all five operas this season are new productions), and in the black. The opera has its first-ever music director (Michael Christie) and a new president (Kevin Ramach) with deep roots in the company’s history. Critics have loved the 2012-13 season so far, turning in rave reviews for “Nabucco” and “Anna Bolena.” Michael Anthony sat down with Shanley last week for MinnPost. Here’s what the New York Times has to say about “Doubt.” Through Feb. 3. (Operas, in case you haven’t noticed, don’t run as long as plays.) FMI and tickets.

Tim Eitel Elsewhere
Courtesy of the Rochester Art Center
Tim Eitel’s ‘Elsewhere’ opens Saturday at the Rochester Art Center

Sunday and Monday at the Dakota: the Dave Holland Quintet. Bassist Holland is one of the biggest names in jazz, a true master of his instrument, genius at putting bands together, and genuinely nice guy. His collaborations are a jazz Who’s Who: the Miles Davis Quintet (the first American gig for the English-born musician), Chick Corea, Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, John Abercrombie, Billy Higgins, Hank Jones, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock. He has led his own groups since 1983 (quintets, trios, quartets), and his current quintet is a dream team: tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, and drummer Nate Smith. Potter is currently on tour with the Monterey Jazz All Stars, so Mark Turner has stepped in, which is not too shabby. We haven’t seen Holland for too long; he was supposed to play here in January 2011, but those dates were cancelled due to a family emergency. We’re super happy he’ll be here. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday. FMI and tickets.

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Opens tomorrow at the Rochester Art Center: “Tim Eitel: Elsewhere.” A leading representative of the “New Leipzig School” of painting, Eitel has become internationally prominent for his contributions to contemporary painting. When the Berlin wall fell in 1989, German students living in the West were allowed to attend universities in the East for the first time in many years. Born near Stuttgart in 1971, Eitel enrolled in Leipzig in 1997, where the study of painting hadn’t changed in decades. Immersed in traditional techniques yet familiar with contemporary approaches to art, he and his peers developed their own style of painting. The Rochester show is Eitel’s first large-scale survey exhibition in the United States, with approximately 32 works created from 2002-12. Public reception at 7 p.m., with the artist present. Through April 28.

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