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Orchestra musicians, Vänskä say yes to Grammy-celebration concert

Osmo Vänskä
Courtesy of the Minnesota Orchestra
The locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä will play a concert on Feb. 1 in honor of the orchestra’s Grammy nomination.

Earlier this week, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and arts benefactor Judy Dayton invited the locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and music director Osmo Vänskä to play a concert on Feb. 1 in honor of the orchestra’s Grammy nomination. “For this one night,” Rybak said, “we ask everyone to set negotiations aside and come together as a community to celebrate the Orchestra’s extraordinary achievement.” Both the musicians and the maestro said yes. 

Orchestra president and CEO Michael Henson issued a statement expressing “shared pride” in the Grammy nod and appreciation “that the Mayor understands the importance of this cultural institution and the need for it to be financially sustainable in the future.” That last part wasn't in the Mayor's press release. The concert is set for Feb. 1 at the Convention Center. Tickets go on sale at noon Monday. Go here or call 612-343-3390.

Across the river – because we have two locked-out orchestras, not just one – members of the group Save Our SPCO gave a petition signed by thousands of supporters to SPCO president Dobson West. Accompanied by St. Paul City Council Member Dave Thune, they stood in the hall outside the SPCO offices in the Hamm building and West came out to meet them. SOSPCO had hoped to deliver the petition to the entire board during their Tuesday meeting but were told that the board needed to “stay focused on the work of completing the negotiations and solving the financial challenge.” Really? They couldn’t take five minutes to acknowledge the concern and efforts of the 3,000 SPCO fans and patrons who signed the petition, nearly 600 of whom left comments? They made SOSPCO members and a City Council member stand in the hall? "We were locked out from even showing our faces to the board," said Mariellen Jacobson, who chairs the group. The Pi Press’ Ross Raihala has more on the brief encounter. 

Joel Hoekstra, editor of Minnesota Monthly since Sept. 2009, managing editor before then, is stepping down this month. “It’s official,” he posted on Facebook. “I’m departing Minnesota Monthly to go solo, working as a writer, editor, and content-strategy consultant.” His new website promises “engaging content across multiple platforms.” If anyone can deliver engaging content, Hoekstra can. We wish him luck in his new venture/adventure. His last day at MnMo is Jan. 18.

We’re waiting impatiently for one-sort recycling in our south Minneapolis neighborhood, but we can still be proud that Bill Moyers’ website includes our fair town on its list of 12 Cities Leading the Way in Sustainability. We get the thumbs-up for being “among America’s greener large cities,” for having “over 160 miles of bikeways, 85 miles of which don’t run alongside a road,” and for Mayor Rybak’s campaign promoting the drinkability of the city’s tap water.

MPR News has announced changes to its weekend schedule, including the addition of several new programs. Those who plan their Sundays around “The Splendid Table” will want to read this and take a look at the complete schedule.

MPR’s Chris Roberts reports that the Southern Theater will probably remain a rental facility, at least for the near future. Under general manager Damon Runnals, the sole full-time staff member since June 2010, the Southern has kept its doors open and eliminated $53,000 in debt but still owes the McKnight Foundation more than $350,000 and plans to pay it back. Nautilus Music-Theater’s “I Am Anne Frank” opened yesterday and continues through Sunday. FMI and tickets. The weekend of Jan. 19-20, the St. Paul Conservatory presents the musical “Chicago,” directed by Matt Sciple of Ten Thousand Things. 

Ten Thousand Things and Mixed Blood will both have full-time playwrights on staff for the next three years, thanks to major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Kira Obolensky will join Ten Thousand Things immediately, and Qui Nguyen will join Mixed Blood in May. Obolensky has already written two plays for Ten Thousand Things, “Raskol” and “Vasa Lisa.” She plans to write three more. Qui Nguyen is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and co-founder/co-artistic director of the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company of New York. He’ll write a series of original pieces for Mixed Blood. Only 14 theater companies nationwide received the Mellon grants. In the words of Mixed Blood artistic director Jack Reuler, “This initiative plants the seed for a seismic culture shift in the relationship between theatres and writers.”

The Minnesota State Arts Board this week awarded over $4 million in grants to more than 200 Minnesota artists, organizations, and groups. Artist Initiative grants will support dancers, media artists, musicians and composers, photographers, visual artists, theater artists, and writers. Cultural Community Partnership grants will enhance the careers of artists of color. Arts Learning grants will promote lifelong learning in the arts across the state. Click the links to see the winners.

James Redford
James Redford

James Redford, son of actor/director Robert Redford, will host screenings of the HBO film “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia” in Minnesota this weekend, each followed by comments and a Q&A. Redford, who has a son with dyslexia, directed the film. Registration is closed for the Twin Cities screening at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mall of America, but (as of Thursday) still open for the 7 p.m. screening at the Rochester International Event Center. Sign up here.

The end of a year brings a blizzard of year-end lists, but some of the best appear after the noise has subsided. Like photographer Alec Soth’s “Ten Things That Gave Me Pleasure” on the Walker’s website. Taking his inspiration from “Joy,” an essay by Zadie Smith that makes life worth living and love worth falling into, Soth lays out the most unpretentious list imaginable: Fro-Yo, books, the TV series “Breaking Bad” and the movie “The Queen of Versailles.” Also on the Walker’s site, Minneapolis-based visual artist Jehra Patrick ignores the whole nostalgia thing and gives us “Ten Artists to Watch in 2013.”

Abject apologies for not mentioning this sooner, but Community Supported Art (CSA), a joint program from Springboard for the Arts and, has issued a Call for Artists for its fifth season, and the application deadline is fast approaching (it’s, um, Friday, Jan. 18). Community Supported Art connects local artists with collectors, much like Community Supported Agriculture connects local farms with consumers. Selected artists receive a $1,000 stipend to create 50 “shares” for the program. Shareholders purchase shares for $300 and receive a box containing three works of art on three different pick-up dates throughout the fall/winter season. The program is open to visual artists, musicians, performing artists, and writers. FMI.

The state capitol's chandelier
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
The Capitol’s chandelier

If you’re in St. Paul around 4 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 17, stop by the State Capitol for a bit of old-fashioned ceremony. The Capitol’s chandelier is returning home after two years of conservation and storage. Six feet in diameter, weighing a ton, it was lowered and removed from the rotunda when work began on the water-damaged interior dome. Its thousands of crystal beads were cleaned for the first time in years. On Thursday the chandelier will be raised 142 feet, back where it belongs, and all 92 of its lights will be illuminated – a big ooh-aah.

Community Cinema at the Library, a program that pairs films from the PBS series “Independent Lens” with panel discussions featuring local experts and hosts from TPT, is back with six more films, one each month from January through June. On Monday, Jan. 14 at Merriam Park Library, “Soul Food Junkies” examines the black community’s love affair with soul food. 7 p.m., free. View the complete schedule here.

Guess who’s coming to dinner? It could be you, as a character created by playwright Rachel Jendrzejewski. Starting next week in restaurants along St. Paul’s Central Corridor, the Stranger Stranger Supper Series will feature members of the public, acting out roles; whatever happens during the meal is the performance. Be part of the cast or watch events unfold. The first performative meal takes place Tuesday, Jan. 15 at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro at 6 p.m. To enter the lottery to play a main character, click here. (The deadline for the Jan. 15 dinner is today.) FMI.

Daniil Trifonov will perform at Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester College
Daniil Trifonov will perform at Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester College

An early alert for what will likely sell out: On Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m., Russian piano prodigy Daniil Trifonov will perform at Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester College. The 21-year-old Trifonov played Carnegie Hall at 18 and has already won top medals at a trifecta of piano competitions: the Chopin in Warsaw (2010), the Rubinstein in Tel Aviv (2011), and the Tchaikovsky in Moscow (2011). Normen Lebrecht, who writes the popular “Slipped Disc” music blog, has called Trifonov “a pianist for the rest of our lives.” He’s coming to St. Paul for the Chopin Society and will play music by Scriabin, Liszt and Chopin (the 24 Preludes). FMI. Tickets.

Wondering what to do this weekend? Here’s our list of amazing events.

• Tonight (Friday, Jan. 11) at the Loft: Dobby Gibson reads from his second collection of poetry, “It Becomes You,” just out from Graywolf Press. 7 p.m. Free.

• Tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 12) at the Cedar: Dan Newton’s Café Accordion Orchestra releases their ninth album, “La Zingara,” a musical nod to the Gypsy lifestyle. It’s a seated show, but you’ll probably want to get up and dance; that’s business as usual for CAO. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8. 

• Tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 12) at Studio Z: Chris Bates’ Red 5. Bassist Bates’ first album as a leader, “New Hope,” made some local critics’ year-end best-of lists, including this writer’s. 7 p.m. 

• Sunday (Jan. 13) at the Cedar: Nathan Hanson’s 416 Club Commission. Six saxophonists playing ten saxophones, plus Brian Roessler on bass and Pete Hennig on drums. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 7:30.

• Sunday at the Sabes JCC: “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish … But It Couldn’t Hurt.” Emmy-winning journalist, writer and storyteller Gary Gilson mixes memoir and humor in stories about Jewish and show-business life. Part of the fourth annual Minneapolis Jewish Humor Festival, which began last night and continues through Jan. 26. 7:30 p.m.

• Sunday at the American Swedish Institute: Nordic Sweater Day. Wear one and receive a $2 on museum admission, be eligible to enter a drawing for a Nordic knit-themed prize, and take part in a group photo at 3 p.m. You betcha.

• All weekend at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis: the Fourth Annual Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention. Get some ink of your own or admire everyone else’s. Some 200 tattoo artists from across the U.S. are expected to attend.

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Comments (1)

Typical tactic by Henson

"That last part wasn't in the Mayor's press release." (Thanks for catching that, Pamela!) But Michael Henson just pretended the Mayor had said it anyway! And then he wonders why we don't have faith in his leadership any longer ...