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SPCO deadline comes and goes, meetings all around

Hope is fading that the SPCO contract dispute will be resolved in time to salvage what’s left of the 2012-13 season – and ensure there will be a 2013-14 season. The musicians rejected management’s latest offer, made Friday, because “all five issues Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman thought he helped resolve late last week still remain unresolved.” The issues include media rights, compensation, whether rehearsals can be recorded and the recordings used in disciplinary proceedings, and the artistic review process. In a letter to Mayor Coleman on Saturday, the musicians claimed that “the Society’s letter sent to you on April 5th has much different content than the actual document sent to us by the Society.” Coleman thinks enough is enough; it’s time to sign. The board is set to meet this afternoon to discuss its options, MPR reported this morning; musicians are reportedly having discussions as well. Update: In late morning the musicians sent a letter to board chair/interim president Dobson West laying out what it would take for them to take a vote of their members.

Meanwhile, the Ordway has begun work on the new 1,100-seat concert hall that will replace the old 300-seat McKnight Theatre. One of the planned uses for the new hall is as the primary home of the SPCO. The SPCO is a member of the Arts Partnership, a group of four organizations that use the Ordway; the others are the Minnesota Opera, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, and the Schubert Club. The new hall is expected to open in mid-2015. The Ordway will bid farewell to the old McKnight on Sunday, April 28, at a combined performance and fundraiser called “The Night of a Million Stars.” Among the dozens of artists scheduled to appear (so far) are Christina Baldwin, Dieter Bierbrauer, Dennis Curley, Monica Heuser, Tonia Hughes and T. Mychael Rambo. FMI and tickets.

On Friday, the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra testified to Minnesota legislators that they are considering applying for legacy funds for the 2013-14 season. In February, state representative Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) suggested that legacy funds be reallocated to pay for more concerts by locked-out musicians from both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO. Kahn is also serving on an exploratory committee formed by the citizens’ group Save Our SPCO to examine the feasibility of forming a new chamber orchestra society.

awardees photo
Courtesy of the Ordway
2012 Sally Award winners: Noël Raymond, Faye M. Price, David J. Fraher, Anthony Caponi, Hillcrest Community School principal Paul Schullo, Jimmy Longoria

Before an audience of what one winner called “arts investors” – people who have devoted their lives and careers to the arts – the 2012 Sally Awards, named for Sally Ordway Irvine, were bestowed in St. Paul last night at the McKnight. The Commitment Award went to Anthony Caponi, artist, environmentalist, professor emeritus at Macalester and founder of the Caponi Art Park in Eagan, where many of his sculptures are on display. “Touching one of my sculptures is the equivalent of hugging me,” he told the crowd. Faye M. Price and Noël Raymond of Pillsbury House & Theatre won the Initiative Award for co-leading the transformation of the community center and professional theater into a one-of-a-kind, arts-integrated social service center and a theater that inspires connections and change. Hillcrest Community School in Bloomington earned the Education Award for integrating the arts into the curriculum with the Artful Learning model from the Leonard Bernstein Center. David J. Fraher and Arts Midwest took the Arts Access Award for bringing artists and audiences together in Minnesota, the greater Midwest and the nation. Artist Jimmy Longoria helps youth deter gang graffiti and create community-based art through his organization, Mentoring Peace Through Art; he received the Vision Award. “When you start out being a street muralist, you don’t look forward to awards,” he said. This was the 21st year of the Sallies. Honorees received crystal statues and $2,500. 

If you haven’t yet bought your tickets for the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala, now’s the time. Authors will meet you, greet you, and sign books before the ceremony, Lorna Landvik (“Patty Jane’s House of Curl”) will emcee, and an after party will include champagne, desserts and live music. This is not a dinner event. 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Hilton. FMI and tickets.

One of the great places to be in Minneapolis after dark is on the ninth floor of the Guthrie Theater. With floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, it offers breathtaking views of the city, the river, and the Stone Arch Bridge. On June 22, you can dance at the Dowling as part of the Guthrie’s 50th anniversary weekend celebration. Live entertainment includes music by Sonny Knight & the Lakers and DJs Espada and Booka B. Sonny Knight was featured on “Twin Cities Funk & Soul,” the spectacular compilation of music from the 1960s and ’70s released last year by Secret Stash Records, and was part of the Twin Cities Funk & Soul All-Stars, whose performance at the Cedar was one of the year’s best concerts. 9:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. Saturday, June 22. FMI and tickets.

Are dance curators a thing of the past? Does it matter? Writing for, Lightsey Darst notes that the Southern doesn’t have a dance curator; the Walker just laid off Michèle Steinwald, its dance-focused performing arts curator; and even the Cowles lacks a curator. “Curators are the editors of the dance world,” Darst writes. “Without them, the stage goes to those who can pay for it. Some favor this democracy of cash; I don’t.”

On a happier note, Rohan Preston called attention in Sunday’s Strib to the Twin Cities’ vibrant and exciting small-theaters scene. “More than 50 small companies operate in the Twin Cities – a high-water mark over the past decade,” he wrote. “Not only have their numbers grown, but so has their level of craft and theater savvy.” We’re kicking ourselves for missing Dark & Stormy’s “Speed-the-Plow.” And we’re glad we made it to Gonzo Group’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night.”

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival starts Thursday. Individual tickets and packages are now on sale to everyone. The website is very clear and easy to use. You can download and print a guide in PDF format (warning! 116 pages), pull one out of Sunday’s Strib (taller and wider, so just 32 pages), or pick one up at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, the festival’s home at 115 SE Main Street in Minneapolis.

helm portrait
Photo by Kino Lorber
Levon Helm: drummer and singer for The Band, four-time Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer

The tiny Trylon has a bit of a coup scheduled for the night before the Film Fest opens. “Ain’t In It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm” (drummer and singer for The Band, four-time Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) won’t officially premiere in theaters until April 19, but Sound Unseen snagged it for Wednesday, April 10. When the 7 p.m. screening came close to selling out, a second screening at 8:45 p.m. was added. FMI and tickets.

Congrats to the Cedar, named “Best World Music Venue” for the second year in a row in’s Reader’s Choice poll. If you don’t have tickets to the “African Summer” concerts, you’d best not drag your feet. This year’s artists include Femi Kuti & the Positive Force, Amadou & Mariam, Vieux Farka Touré, and Fendika. FMI and tickets.

Calls for artists: the Soap Factory is accepting submissions for its 2014 season. Postmark deadline is Tuesday, April 30. The League of Longfellow Artists wants artists for its 5th annual Art Crawl, to be held Aug. 24-25. Participation is open to artists living and working in the greater Longfellow neighborhoods. Registration closes May 1. FMI. Twin Cities Pride is accepting video submissions; deadline Wednesday, May 1. Twin Cities Pride is also accepting applications from artists 18 years and older on the theme “I Have Pride” for its juried art exhibition. Deadline Friday, May 3.

Our picks for the week

scofield portrait
John Schofield

Tonight (Tuesday, April 9) at the Dakota: John Scofield’s Hollowbody Band Featuring Mike Stern. For fans of the jazz guitar – and fans of the guitar, period – this is one of those don’t-dare-miss events. Scofield and Stern on the same stage? With Bill Stewart on drums, Ben Street on bass? Duh. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Wednesday at Coffman Memorial Union: Colum McCann talk and discussion. McCann is the author of five novels including “Let the Great World Spin,” winner of the National Book Award for Fiction. His sixth, “TransAtlantic,” is due in June. Free and open to the public. 7:30 p.m, Coffman Union Theater (on the first floor of Coffman on the U’s East Bank). FMI.

Wednesday at Subtext: Rachel Hanel reads from her memoir “We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down,” which should get the Best Book Title of the Year award, if there is such a thing; Hanel is a gravedigger’s daughter. 7 p.m., free. 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul, down the stairs from Nina’s.

Starts Thursday at the U’s Rarig Center: “Something About a Bear.” The world premiere of a play for ages 8 to 80. Inspired by a Russian play based on a folk story, award-winning American playwright Constance Congdon transplants the tale and the characters – a wizard, a bear-turned-man, a cross-dressing princess, and a tyrant king – to a small town in northern Minnesota. A play of magic, humor and heart, with an original backwoods musical score by composer Johanna Gorman-Baer, performed live. Luvern Siefert and Annie Enneking star with a student cast. Through April 21. At the Stoll Thrust Stage of the Rarig Center, 330 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis. FMI and tickets.

Thursday and Saturday at the Chanhassen: The New Standards. Chan Poling (The Suburbs), Steve Roehm (Electropolis), and John Munson (Trip Shakespeare/Semisonic) bring their unique and infectious jazz/pop to the ’burbs. FMI and tickets.

Thursday in movie theaters: “Manet: Portraying Life.” Can’t get to London’s Royal Academy of Arts in time to see the big Manet show? No problem; it’s coming here in HD. A new “Exhibition” series visits several major shows, then brings them into theaters near you. Each is hosted by art historian Tim Marlow, with behind-the-scenes footage. The series continues with “Munch: Munch 150” (Thursday, June 27, from the National Museum and the Munch Museum on Oslo) and “Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love Leisure” (Thursday, Oct. 10) from the National Gallery in London.  All showings at 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets (see “Click here for tickets” at the bottom of your screen, then enter your ZIP code).

Thursday at Studio Z: a late addition to the “Jazz at Studio Z” series features Grammy nominated saxophonist, Kneebody member, and Sunnyside recording artist Ben Wendel. He’ll be joined by area musicians Brian Ziemniak (piano), Zacc Harris (guitar), Graydon Peterson (bass), and Pete Hennig (drums), with special guest Brandon Wozniak (saxophone). Should be fun for everyone. FMI and tickets.

Thursday at the Dakota: Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt. Classically trained concert pianist Dinnerstein made a huge splash in 2007 with her self-produced recording of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations, which won critical raves and sold a ton of copies. Now she has paired with North Carolina country-soul singer-songwriter Tift Merritt for a remarkable album about their shared passion for music – all kinds of music. Here’s a video about their collaboration, the new album “Night.” This promises to be very special and memorable. 7 p.m. (one show only). FMI and tickets

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