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SPCO vote expected soon; efforts to save CVA fall short

ALSO: Film Festival is under way; MN Opera’s ‘Turandot’ to open; Ibsen Festival in Lanesboro; and more.

spco musicians photo
Musicians of the SPCO
The musicians of the SPCO will vote on a ‘play-and-talk’ deal.

By now, most of us have heard that the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra will very likely play some of the concerts left in its 2012-13 season, though the concerts will differ from those originally scheduled, in case you’re still holding on to your season announcement brochure. Late Tuesday afternoon, the musicians’ negotiating team agreed to ask the musicians to vote on a proposed contract that cuts salaries by 18.6 percent and reduces the size of the orchestra from 34 to 28, among other provisions. This is a “play-and-talk” agreement, not the final contract that will continue through the 2015-16 season; that version will have to be finalized and ratified by June 30. When will the actual vote take place? No one knows. The contract language is set and the media rights issues have been resolved with the national union, but all musicians must be physically present to vote (no phone-ins or emails allowed), and many have taken gigs elsewhere during the lockout. We’ll let you know when a vote is scheduled. If the result is ratification, concerts are expected to resume after May 5.

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Following months of indecision, protests, and community efforts to keep St. Paul’s College of Visual Arts alive, a statement issued yesterday appears to have tolled the bell: “The CVA Board of Trustees has concluded with great sadness that efforts to keep the College open next year are not viable.” A group called CVA Action had worked hard to develop a plan and secure new sources of funding. When a key source of financing for their plan fell through last week, the trustees agreed to join with CVA Action in a two-week fundraising plea to the public. If they raised enough money, the college would hold on to its buildings and spend a year (or more) developing a new business model. But there was one condition the trustees insisted on: CVA would not enroll any students for the 2013-14 school year. CVA Action found that unacceptable. Students are being urged to transfer to other schools.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival is under way.  What kinds of films would you like to see? Search the website by language (from Albanian to Wolof), topic (Aging, Corporate Greed, Disaster, Family Dysfunction, Midlife Issues, Mockumentary, Road Movie, and Urban Violence are among the many possibilities), or country/region (Albania to Zambia). There’s a generous selection of Minnesota-made films and a series called “More REEL” related to the themes of the MIA’s new exhibition “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness.” Fans of jazz legend Charles Lloyd, who played four indelible sets at the Dakota in March, will want to see “Charles Lloyd: Arrows into Infinity,” which screens tonight at 8:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 9:20 p.m. It’s a fascinating, well-made film about music, life, spirituality, service, struggle, leadership, creativity, individuality, joy and freedom – and also jazz. This writer interviewed the filmmaker (and Lloyd’s wife) Dorothy Darr earlier this month.

Last night’s opener at the film fest was a happy, chatty crush of film lovers, filmmakers flown in for the event, arts-loving luminaries including Sen. Dick Cohen and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and sponsors; USBank is new this year and sent a crowd. The evening began and ended in Aster Cafe’s event space, the former home of Segway Tours, an inviting room with river view. In between, we piled into two theaters, both showing “The Angels’ Share,” the moving, funny, uplifting and thought-provoking new film by Ken Loach (“The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” “Sweet Sixteen”). Afterward, screenwriter Paul Laverty and MPR’s Euan Kerr discussed the film and Laverty took a few questions from the audience. He reminded us of the value of watching a film as a communal experience and debating it after. Between now and April 28, you’ll have about 260 chances to do that.

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Keri Kellerman

Keri Kellerman has joined the Playwrights’ Center as managing director. She most recently served as managing director of Intiman Theatre in Seattle and brings more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit leadership to her new role in the Twin Cities. Kellerman’s responsibilities will include development and working with producing artistic director Jeremy Cohen to oversee the center’s operations, staff and board.

Ellen Stanley has been named executive director of the Minnesota Music Coalition (MMC), a nonprofit organization that supports independent musicians throughout Minnesota. Her position, which begins April 30, will be funded in part by a two-year grant from the McKnight Foundation. Stanley has been the director of publicity and promotions at the Grammy-winning indie label Red House Records. She produces and hosts “Womenfolk,” a weekly radio show on KFAI, and performs her own music under the name Mother Banjo.

On Sunday (April 14), the life of former Guthrie artist and University of Minnesota educator Stephen Kanee will be celebrated with an 11 a.m. memorial service on the Guthrie’s Wurtele Thrust Stage. At the Guthrie, Kanee was mentored by Michael Langham, directed “A Christmas Carol” in 1975 (launching a holiday tradition), and went on to direct many other productions. He joined the U’s faculty in 1986, where he served as an associate professor and head of the directing program. He retired from the U in 2005. A reception will follow the service.

The Walker, the MIA, and the Weisman have all signed on for this year’s International Museum Day on May 18. Visitors to the Walker will enjoy member-for-a-day privileges including free gallery admission and discounts at the Walker shop and restaurants. The MIA will offer free admission to “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness” to all museum visitors who take a photo of their visit and share it on social media. The Weisman will offer a 10 percent discount in the WAM Shop.

Our picks for the weekend and Monday

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Photo by Youri Lenquette
Fatoumata Diawara plays the Cedar on Friday

Tonight (Friday, April 12) at the Cedar: Fatoumata Diawara. The Midwest debut of the lovely and enchanting Malian singer. Her debut CD, “Fatou,” is a delight. Watch the video, get tickets. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8.

Tonight and Saturday at the U of M ReUse Program Warehouse: the Textile Center’s Textile Garage Sale. Fabric, yarn, threads, notions, kits, patterns, magazines, tools, beads, buttons, sewing machines. Preview party tonight, 6:30 p.m. – 8. $25 at the door. Sale tomorrow, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; admission $1. 883 29th Ave. SE, Minneapolis. FMI.

Tonight through Sunday in Lanesboro: The 16th Annual Ibsen Festival. Scandinavian pastries, Viking chess, the Tarantella, an exhibit of clay sculptures, lectures, storytelling, and, of course, theater, including the world premiere adaptation of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” by Jeffrey Hatcher, the latest in a series commissioned by Lanesboro’s Commonweal Theater. Most events (except for the plays) are free. FMI.

Saturday at the Ordway: Puccini’s “Turandot” opens. The final production of the Minnesota Opera’s 50th anniversary season is a very big deal, with two casts, spectacular sets and costumes, an opulent new production by French-Canadian director-designer team Renaud Doucet and André Barbe (built in the Minnesota Opera Center in the Minneapolis Warehouse District), and, of course, Puccini’s music. We’ve been inviting members of Theoroi, a group of “arts ambassadors” ages 21-35 sponsored by the Schubert Club, to preview events they’re attending. This is one, and here’s why Theoroi member Emma Lynn can’t wait to see it: “Is anything more agonizing than an unsolved riddle? The famous puzzles (and sweeping melodies) of Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ have kept audiences enthralled for decades. Opera buffs and newbies can look forward to favorites such as ‘Nessun Dorma,’ the tenor aria that became one of Pavarotti’s signatures. The story centers on the iconic ice princess, Turandot, whose reluctance to relinquish her power through marriage is so strong that she vows to kill any suitor unless he can correctly answer three riddles. Then a mysterious prince determined to win her hand appears. Both casts are equally star-studded, and Puccini’s music is accessible yet intense. Here’s a head start on the first riddle: ‘What is born each night and dies each dawn?’ This is one of my favorite operas.” Michael Christie conducts; the casts include Russian soprano Irina Rindzuner, Helen Todd, Kelly Kaduce, Christie Hageman and Vern Sutton. Through April 21. FMI and tickets.

Saturday at Bethel University: Composer and pianist Jeremy Walker premieres “7 Psalms,” his new work for jazz quartet, solo voice, and choir. Music fans know Walker for his gigs at the Artists’ Quarter and the Dakota; the jazz club, Brilliant Corners, he owned in St. Paul; and Jazz is NOW, the educational nonprofit and jazz orchestra he founded in the mid-00s. This writer profiled Walker for yesterday’s Star Tribune. 8 p.m. in Benson Great Hall, 3900 Bethel Drive (near Highway 51 and I-694). Free.

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MinnPost photo by John Whiting
Jeremy Walker

Saturday at Hopkins Center for the Arts: We Love Our Pianos! A program that explores singers, piano players, and their relationship in jazz and popular song. Presented and hosted by singer and radio personality Arne Fogel, with vocalists Connie Evingson and Nancy Harms and pianists Rick Carlson and Tanner Taylor. 7 p.m. social hour, music at 8 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Saturday at Macalester: the Macalester Pipe Band. Bagpipes! Kilts! Mike Breidenbach leads the band in its annual spring concert. At the new Mairs Concert Hall in the Music Building. 8 p.m. $5 children, $10 adults, free with Macalester ID. 1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul. Tickets at the door.

Sunday at the Amsterdam: KFAI Rocks. A post-pledge-drive benefit concert for the volunteer-based community radio station. Performers include the Mighty Mofos, Curtis A and Dark Click, the Oddfathers, and Patterson’s Prisoners. 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation.

Monday at Plymouth Congregational Church: Jane Hirshfield. The distinguished poet, author of seven collections of poetry and the book of essays “Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry,” Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEA, and Academy of American Poets fellow (and chancellor) reads for Plymouth’s luminous Literary Witnesses series. 7 p.m., 1900 Nicollet Ave. at Franklin in Minneapolis. FMI.