If summer ever comes, many of us will head outdoors for live music, and one of the best places to go is the Minnesota Zoo. Each year, the Music in the Zoo series brings top artists to the open-air Weesner Family Amphitheater, tucked between the tigers and the caribou. (There’s nothing like hearing a tiger growl as you’re walking down the path to the venue. It creates, shall we say, a whole new level of anticipation.) A few highlights: Joan Baez on June 6, British blues growler James Hunter on June 23, Cheap Trick on July 6, Trombone Shorty and Mavis Staples on July 21, Brian Wilson on July 27, John Hiatt and Steve Earle on August 1, Elvin Bishop on August 28. See the current lineup here, with more shows to be added. Packages on sale Friday, April 19, singles Saturday, April 27 at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis and Ticketmaster.
We have reason to hope the SPCO will play the rest of its season; management and musicians are still picking at details (mainly that pesky media agreement), but at least they’re talking. Not so at the Minnesota Orchestra. A front-page headline in the print edition of Saturday’s Strib said it all: “No music, no talks, no season.” Graydon Royce reports that Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak “appears less interested in talking now,” and that orchestra president and CEO Michael Henson “suspects the union may be delaying negotiations to use the reopening of Orchestra Hall as leverage.” The original Orchestra Hall opened in 1974 to fanfare and festivities under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s baton. Will the reopening in July (or whenever) be grim? While we applaud Rybak for hosting the orchestra’s Grammy celebration concert on Feb. 1, we wish he’d put his big boots on, as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman did with the SPCO.
Meanwhile, we learned Monday that Skrowaczewski will return to conduct the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in a concert of Mozart and Bruckner on Thursday, April 25, at the O’Shaughnessy. For the maestro, it’s a double homecoming; the O’Shaughnessy for several years hosted weekly St. Paul performances by the Minnesota Orchestra, led by him. 7:30 p.m. Tickets on sale at noon today in person at the O’Shaughnessy ticket office, by phone (61-690-6700), or online.
There’s another Minnesota hopeful on “The Voice.” After Nicholas David finished third last season, Eden Prairie’s Mark Andrew wowed the judges with a soulful cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Maroon 5’s Adam Levine pushed the button first. Andrew will be on Shakira’s team.
April is National Poetry Month. Sign up for Poem-A-Day and find a new poem in your inbox every morning. Go here to see what’s happening with poetry in Minnesota. Read this lovely poem by Minnesotan James Wright. If you’re in St. Joseph tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 3), hear Minnesota poet laureate Joyce Sutphen read at the College of Saint Benedict. 7 p.m., free. FMI.
April is also Jazz Appreciation Month. Jazz is best heard live, and there are many places in the Twin Cities to hear it. The Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul presents live jazz almost every night of the week. On Thursday, trumpeter John Raymond, who now lives in NYC, joins the new trio Triosé (guitarist Vincent Rose, bassist Jeremy Boettcher, drummer Adrian Suarez) for a live recording. 9 p.m., $5. The Dakota in Minneapolis, while no longer strictly a jazz club, still brings in top performers (including Chick Corea, who sold out two sets last night). Tonight and tomorrow: singer Madeleine Peyroux, whose latest release, “The Blue Room,” is currently the #1 traditional jazz record in the U.S. “The Blue Room” is Peyroux’s nod to Ray Charles’ “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music;” four of the songs (including “I Can’t Stop Loving You”) are from that groundbreaking album. Add strings and it’s a gutsy, gorgeous outing. FMI and tickets.
What’s ambitious, kind of crazy, and potentially epic? “John Zorn @ 60,” this Saturday at the Walker. Every so often, the Walker invites us to dive head first into the work of an important if somewhat thorny artist. They did this last year with “The Sound of Surprise: A Vijay Iyer Mini-Festival,” two jam-packed nights of music by one of today’s most important young jazz pianists, and the year before with “King for Two Days,” even more jam-packed nights of drummer Dave King with various bands. These events hark back to the days when musicians had residencies at jazz clubs and one could see and hear them several times, getting some sense of their depth and scope. Those days are mostly gone, making these Walker events especially vital. John Zorn – the protean avant-garde composer, record producer and multi-instrumentalist – couldn’t or wouldn’t spend two days here, so he’s squeezing an impossible number of events into just one day. The Zorn-a-thon begins at 3 p.m. with “Zorn of Plenty,” a free conversation in the Walker Cinema with senior curator Philip Bither. Program I: Game Pieces (4 p.m.) includes the Book of Heads (etudes for solo guitar, featuring Marc Ribot), Hockey (an early work that has been compared to Jack Benny and Buster Keaton), and Cobra (improvisation directed by cue cards). Program II: Masada (7 p.m.) features Erik Friedlander solo, the Masada String Trio (classical-chamber jazz), and Bar Kokhba (small group). Program III: New Projects (10 p.m.) is Nova Express (inspired by William Burroughs, with John Medeski on keyboards) and The Concealed (Nova Express + The Dreamers, yet another Zorn group). After which Zorn will cross the street to St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral and play a free solo concert on the pipe organ at midnight. Programs I-III are in the McGuire Theater and tickets are very limited (they’re starting to turn up on Craigslist). Call the box office at 612-385-7600.
Want to work in the arts and help support the arts in Minnesota? The McKnight Foundation in downtown Minneapolis is looking for a Program Officer – Arts. Learn more here. Applications accepted through May 6.
New at this year’s American Craft Council show: “Make Room: Local interior designers create craft-inspired environments.” Maybe this has happened to you: You’re at a craft show, you see a piece you love, but you haven’t a clue what to do with it. Ten room settings created by Twin Cities interior designers will show how to live with fine craft. Also new: a private wholesale show on Friday morning. April 19-21 at the St. Paul RiverCentre.
You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll jump out of your chair, and you’ll leave happy. Now that’s a night at the theater. Ira Levin’s suspense thriller “Deathtrap” is an oldie-but-goodie; it ran for four years (1,809 performances) on Broadway starting in 1978, was made into a movie starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve, and became a summer stock and community theater staple. It opened at the Jungle this weekend with a bang. Steve Hendrickson stars as a fading playwright desperate for a hit, Michael Booth is a young man who may have written one, Cheryl Willis is Hendrickson’s wife, Terry Hempleman his lawyer, the always splendid Claudia Wilkens is a dotty psychic who lives nearby, and there’s a sixth character not listed in the cast: a wall of weapons – guns, daggers, axes, crossbows – just itching to be used. It’s a play within a play, sharply written, cleverly constructed, with more plot twists than a Twizzler. Directed by Bain Boehlke. Through May 19. FMI and tickets.
Our picks through Thursday
Opens tonight at the Orpheum: “Flashdance – The Musical.” Has it really been 30 years since the movie burned Jennifer Beals’ bare shoulder onto a generation’s retinas? Like the movie, the musical is all about hot dancing and hit songs. Along with Oscar-winner “Flashdance – What a Feeling” and others we know – “Maniac,” “Gloria,” “Manhunt” – it features 16 new songs. Student/educator rush is available for all performances. FMI and tickets.
Thursday at the St. Paul JCC: “Me La Amargates Tu.” Sephardic baroque music by the Netherlands-based early-music ensemble. Performed on recorders, Baroque harp, viola da gamba, guitar and percussion, led by vocalist Estaban Manzano. 7 p.m., free. Photo ID required for entry.
Thursday-Sunday, April 4-7, at MCAD: The 5th Annual Italian Film Festival. Remember when every foreign film that came to the U.S. was either French or Italian? Why did Italian films go out of fashion? Mille grazie to the Italian Cultural Center, the Consulate General of Italy (in Chicago), and MCAD for caring and bringing a selection of contemporary Italian films to Minnesota each year. Directors Nicollò Bruno and Alessandro Comodin will be here to discuss their work and lead a workshop. Here’s the complete line-up, with trailers and links to tickets.
Opens Thursday at Park Square: “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-prize winning classic, adapted by Christopher Sergei and directed by David Mann, returns for eight shows only. It sold out in 2011, and many members of that cast are back, including Fred Wagner (Atticus), Warren C. Bowles (Rev. Sykes), and KBEM’s Ed Jones (Heck Tate). Olivia Coon will make her Park Square debut as Scout; Thomasina Petrus will appear as Calpurnia. Through April 14. FMI and tickets.
Thursday at the Hennepin County Library: Talk of the Stacks with Andrei Codrescu. The poet, essayist, novelist, screenwriter, raconteur and NPR personality presents his new collection from Coffee House Press, “So Recently Rent a World.” 7 p.m., free. Doors at 6:15 p.m. 300 Nicollet Mall, Pohlad Hall.