Someone must have shouted “Go!” at the SPCO offices moments after the musicians ratified their new contract on April 29. In record time, less than a month after the end of a 191-day lockout, the orchestra has announced its 2013-14 season: 122 concerts in 13 venues throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding areas, including a new neighborhood series at Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. Four of the orchestra’s five artistic partners – Roberto Abbado, Edo de Waart, Christian Zacharias and Thomas Zehetmair – are returning; soprano Dawn Upshaw, who served as an artistic partner for six seasons, has retired from that role but will be back to perform.
The new season opens Sept. 6, with a program that includes Beethoven’s Fifth, and ends June 8, 2014, with Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. In between are six world premieres, all SPCO commissions or co-commissions, including a new concerto for string quartet and chamber orchestra by Kevin Puts, whose “Silent Night” (for the Minnesota Opera) won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; a centennial celebration of Benjamin Britten; copious Baroque, including Bach’s “Brandenburgs,” Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and Handel’s “Messiah” (at the Basilica of St. Mary); the return of trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger and pianist Jeremy Denk; and the SPCO debuts of violist Paul Neubauer and the Miró String Quartet. The season is front-loaded with masterworks from Beethoven’s “heroic” period; following the Fifth (on Sept. 6-8), de Waart will lead the “Pastoral” (Sept. 13-15) and Symphony No. 4 (Sept. 19-21), after which Christian Zacharias will perform the “Emperor” Concerto (Sept. 26-29).
Season ticket packages are available online or by phone at 651-292-1144. You may request a brochure by email. All tickets are $10, $25 and $40; more than 80 percent are $25 or less. Concert memberships are still only $5/month for an unlimited number of concerts. SPCO management calls its pricing strategy a “continued commitment to accessibility.” We think SPCO tickets are underpriced, which feeds the public perception that classical music should be cheap and makes it more difficult for other arts organizations to charge what they need for their events. On the other hand, at these prices, there’s no excuse not to hear this wonderful orchestra as often as you can.
Next Friday, the still locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will present a concert called “Catch Them While You Can: An Evening of Chamber Music.” Why the unusual title? Because it features musicians who soon will be leaving us: principal clarinet Burt Hara, who recently won the position of associate principal clarinet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; principal second violin Gina DiBello, now a member of the first violin section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; cellist Pitnarry Shin, whose husband, SPCO principal second violin Kyu-Young Kim, has joined the New York Philharmonic; and principal viola Tom Turner.
MinnPost reader Amy Adams, who’s been following the lockout from Oregon, writes: “Tom’s been subbing at the San Diego Symphony for a couple of months now, and they’ve started listing him as ‘acting principal viola’ on their website. So, that’s another significant blow to the artistic roster of the Minnesota Orchestra, in my opinion.” Ours, too. See “Catch Them While You Can” on May 31, 8 p.m., at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Sheridan Ave. S., Minneapolis. FMI. Call 612-920-5440 for tickets ($25 and $50; children free).
Reading about the Walker’s new Performing Arts season is always like opening a Christmas present from someone who knows how to shop, spares no expense, and has a fantastically active imagination. The season invariably offers three or four events that make us jump up and down, and the others are intriguing or provocative enough that we want to give them a try. Performing Arts curator Philip Bither often surprises and rarely disappoints. The 2013-14 season has something for anyone interested in contemporary dance, theater and/or music. Things we like a lot: the Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s “Life and Times: Episode 1,” based on a marathon phone conversation about the early life memories of an everyday person, sung in a pop-meets-chamber-opera style (Sept. 26-28); “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller,” a “live documentary” featuring a cinematic narration by filmmaker Sam Green and a live soundtrack by Yo La Tengo; the art-folk duo CocoRosie, whose songs are described as “playful yet ominous” (Oct. 19); the return of cellist/composer Erik Friedlander, last seen at April’s John Zorn-a-thon, this time with art photographer Mitch Epstein (Nov. 1) and his images of U.S. energy production and consumption; Uruguayan choreographer luciana achugar’s “Otro Teatro,” including dancers from Zenon Dance (Feb. 27-March 1, 2014); the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s farewell tour (March 12-15); two nights with the brilliant jazz pianist Brad Mehldau (Apr. 8-9), last seen at the Walker in 2010 with the SPCO; and “Song of the Jasmine,” a world premiere/Walker commission by Ragamala Dance and composer/saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who recently won a prestigious Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Explore the whole season here, and plan to attend the season preview at the Walker on Sept. 5.
Is it already time for the Cowles’ third season? It seems like yesterday that the refurbished 500-seat Goodale Theater opened. This year’s performers include the Minnesota Concert Opera (“The Mini-Ring”), Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum, Cantus, James Sewell Ballet, TU Dance, Zenon Dance, Aparna Ramaswamy, B-Boy J-Sun, Black Label Movement, MU Daiko, Ballet of the Dolls, and Ethnic Dance Theatre. FMI and tickets. Happy news: the Cowles now houses Mason’s Restaurant and Barre (clever!), open for pre-performance dining and lunch.
Theater Latté Da’s 2013-14 season, the 16th for the award-winning company, includes “Steerage Song,” a fully-staged new musical by founding artistic director Peter Rothstein and Dan Chouinard (Sept. 25-Oct. 20); the return of “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” created by Rothstein in 2007 and now a Twin Cities holiday classic, featuring the vocal ensemble Cantus (Dec. 19-22); the Tony-winning musical “Cabaret,” as envisioned by Rothstein (Jan. 15-Feb. 9, 2014); a new take on Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” with live music and a multicultural cast (March 12-April 6); and “NEXT: New Musicals in the Making” during the spring of 2014. FMI and season tickets.
The African Art Galleries at the Minneapolis Institute are closed for extensive renovations. When they reopen Nov. 10, they will look very different. Curator Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers sought input from community members on how to place the objects in the collection “within the full context of the diaspora they resulted from and contributed to.” The new galleries will include a large interactive map, interactive labels with videos, and an open layout that encourages visitors to create their own pathways through the 4,800-square-foot space, discovering cross-cultural dialogues and experiencing the works in depth. Objects will be classified by their own logic and aesthetics, rather than by chronology, geography or medium – the traditional Western systems. A few items from the MIA’s extensive collection of African art have been moved to the halls outside the galleries. But you’ll have to wait until November to see the Shrine Head, a favorite, in person.
Now playing in the Guthrie’s intimate Dowling Studio, “An Iliad” has been extended for three more nights, through June 1. Adapted from the Robert Fagles translation of Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War, the play by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare features only one actor, Stephen Yoakam, who commands our entire attention from the moment he steps out of the elevator onto the stage. This is one of the best things we’ve seen so far this year. FMI and tickets.
It’s really, really over at the College of Visual Arts. On Saturday, June 1, the school will hold an open-to-the-public “Asset Sale” at all locations: the Summit Building (344 Summit Ave., St. Paul), Western Building (173 Western Ave. N.), and Dayton Building (394 Dayton Ave.). The sale will include furniture, computers, books, classroom and studio equipment, and miscellaneous technology. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Cash and credit cards only, no checks.
Our picks for the weekend
Tonight, tomorrow, or whenever through Sept. 8: Artist-Designed Mini Golf at the Walker. The two eight-hole courses were conceived by architects, artists, engineers, machinists, and mini-golf aficionados. The layouts include gopher holes, contours mapped from the course at the Augusta National Golf Club, a scale model of a French chateau, an oversized watering can, and garden gnomes. Thursdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sundays-Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. ($12/$10/$9). Every ticket includes free gallery admission. New this summer: the Dog House, home to hot dogs on soft pretzel buns, gelato pops and cold beer.
Tonight at Studio Z: “Life’s a Picnic: Music by 2012 McKnight Composer Fellow Viv Corringham.” A British vocalist, composer and sound artist currently based in Minneapolis, Corringham sounds like no one we have ever heard. Her singing is wordless and fearless, sometimes a caress, sometimes a full-on assault. She ends her McKnight Fellowship year with Heather Barringer (percussion), Nick Gaudette (bass), James Holdman (guitar), Michelle Kinney (cello), and Pat O’Keefe (clarinet) in an evening of experimental music and improvised soundscapes. For the adventuresome and the big-eared. 7:30 p.m., 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200, St. Paul. FMI and tickets ($10).
Tonight and tomorrow at the Artists’ Quarter: Bryan Nichols Quintet. One of the Twin Cities’ finest, most imaginative pianists, Nichols rarely gets the chance to perform with his quintet because everyone in it is a first-call dude. They’ll play songs from their debut CD, “Bright Places” (2011), and new music composed by Nichols since then. “We’ll probably throw in a couple of the [Keith] Jarrett American Quartet songs as well,” Nichols told us yesterday. With Michael Lewis and Brandon Wozniak on saxophones, James Buckley on bass, and JT Bates on drums. 9 p.m., 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul (in the basement of the Hamm Building), $12 at the door.
Saturday through Monday: Opening weekend at Historic Fort Snelling. Explore the historic buildings, visit with costumed interpreters, and learn about life in early Minnesota. On Memorial Day, you can travel through the past with a living timeline of military life on this special day honoring America’s soldiers. Watch costumed staff and re-enactors interpret different eras of military history; see large-scale military demonstrations. Cannons and muskets will be fired on all days. Saturday and Monday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. 200 Tower Ave., St. Paul. FMI. Tickets at the site ($11-$6; free for children 5 and under and MHS members).
Saturday at Icehouse: Bill Baird with Strange Relations. The first concert in a new series presented by the Cedar at the Eat Street restaurant and venue that happens to be one of our favorite places. Psych folk, alt folk, experimental. 11 p.m., 2528 Nicollet Ave. Tickets here or at the door ($6). Go here for a list of future Cedar-at-Icehouse events and reasons why the Cedar picked the place.
Sunday night on your own teevee: “Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875.” Some of us remember when the only Asian food in the Twin Cities was gray, gloppy Chinese chow mein. Coproduced by the Minnesota Historical Society Press and tpt, based on the book by Phyllis Louise Harris with Raghavan Iyer, narrated by Iyer, this 30-minute documentary features interviews and profiles with Supenn Harrison (Sawatdee), Reiko Weston (Fuji Ya), Ann Kim (Pizzeria Lola), and Thom Pham (Azia, etc.). Iyer is the author of “The Turmeric Trail” and the absolutely splendid “660 Curries;” he “culineered” the short-lived OM Contemporary Indian Cuisine restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. The documentary airs on tptMN at 7 p.m. Sunday and also at 1 a.m., 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. June 2.