The Minnesota Fringe Festival has a new executive director. Jeff D. Larson, currently associate director, will take over for Robin Gillette in September following the 2013 festival. Larson’s ascendancy is a textbook case of working your way up; he started with the Fringe in 1999 as a technician, was named technical director in 2001, then director of production and sponsorship in 2007 and associate director in 2009. “Fringe has been my home for a long time, and it’s an organization that I’m very proud of,” he said in a prepared statement. Gillette has served as executive director since 2006; she announced in April that she would step down after this year’s 20th anniversary festival, which begins Aug. 1.
The Schubert Club has a new board president, Dr. Nina M. Archabal. She succeeds Lucy Rosenberry Jones as the 40th president of the board of directors of the 131-year-old St. Paul arts organization. Archabal’s creds are stellar: 23 years as director of the Minnesota Historical Society (from which she recently retired), board chair of the American Association of Museums and the United States Committee of the International Council of Museums, the President’s Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Humanities Medal, membership on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (appointed by President Obama), and more. For the Schubert Club, she has chaired the Artistic Committee, overseeing the selection of performers for its International Artist and Music in the Park series. Schubert Club board chairs serve for two years.
After a global search, VocalEssence has announced its first-ever assistant artistic director. Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (one-dim-AWG-knee-you) will serve under Philip Brunelle, artistic director and founder, and Sigrid Johnson, associate conductor and vocal coach, helping VocalEssence expand its artistic vision and spread its reach nationally. Wondemagegnehu comes to the Twin Cities from Orlando, Fla., where he was director of choral activities at Freedom High School. He is in demand as a guest conductor and lecturer, and he’s also a tenor soloist. “From the moment I saw his audition video, I found him very inspiring,” Brunelle said in a prepared statement.
The Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) has named Trista Harris its new president. Harris most recently served as executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice in Minneapolis and chairs the national board of advisors of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. An accomplished author and speaker, Harris has also been program officer at the Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation (now Minnesota Philanthropy Partners). She will succeed Bill King, who is retiring after 25 years of service. MCF members represent three-quarters of all grantmaking in Minnesota, awarding almost $1 billion annually.
The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame has announced its 2013 inductees, and as always it’s an eclectic group: guitarist Leo Kottke, country-rock singer Mary Jane Alm, jazz singer Dennis Spears, Cloquet accordionist Lorren Lindevig, New Ulm bandleader Leon Olson, and the St. Olaf Choir. We’d love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting where inductees are chosen. The 25th annual induction ceremony and banquet will be held Nov. 1 at Turner Hall in New Ulm, and an Inductee Showcase will follow the next day at the Hall of Fame Museum. Past inductees include Doc Evans, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Jeanne Arland Peterson, Michael Johnson, Sounds of Blackness, Dominic Argento, the Minnesota Orchestra, the SPCO, Philip Brunelle, the Minnesota Opera and the Trashmen.
The Guthrie celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend with a series of events ranging from fancy to free. For deep pockets, the theater-wide Golden Soirée fundraiser on Saturday starts with cocktails on the McGuire stage and dinner in the Dowling (a five-course tasting menu by Chef Tim McKee); moves to the Wurtele Thrust stage for a “Behold: A Gala Performance” co-hosted by Greta Oglesby and Sally Wingert, choreographed by Brian Sostek, featuring national and local actors, composers and writers with ties to the theater (including Tracie Bennett, Whoopi Goldberg, T.R. Knight, Daniel Gerroll, Patricia Kalember and Brian d’Arcy James); and ends with a champagne reception and dance party in the Dowling with live music and DJs. Hint: dress up. The Fête 50 event, happening simultaneously, includes a dinner party on Levels Four and Five and the Endless Bridge, admission to “Behold,” and the reception/dance party. You can also attend “Behold” and/or the dance party separately. FMI on all. On Sunday, the Guthrie throws open its doors for a free community celebration day of activities, games, drawings and ticket give-aways, behind-the-scenes backstage tours and Open Eye Figure Theatre’s family-friendly show “Milly and Tillie.” FMI. Plus there’s a 5K fun run around the Guthrie’s historic neighborhood. FMI and registration ($25).
The state of the arts in Minnesota after the latest legislative session, from Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble’s update: “$115 million will go to the arts from our state’s constitutionally dedicated Legacy Funds over the next biennium, with 46% to the State Arts Board that funds programming via Regional Arts Councils. The Minnesota Humanities Center will receive an increase of $750,000 over the biennium. The Minnesota Historical Society will receive almost $28 million for a variety of projects. In the Economic Development bill, the Minnesota Film and TV Board will get $10 million to create production jobs across the state.”
Visit a museum or stay at home? Go to a concert or take a nap? Play the piano or swill beer on a boat? In all cases, the first choice could make you happier, healthier, less stressed and more satisfied with your life, according to a study published earlier this year in the British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Men benefit most from more passive activities (like going to a concert), women from more active pursuits (like playing an instrument or creating art). Wealth and education don’t appear to factor in. We’re all for this study and its upbeat results, but we have one question: the subjects were Norwegians, so how could the researchers tell if they were happy or not? (We half-Norwegians get to make jokes about Norwegians.)
We went to our first “Wits” show on Friday and can’t imagine why it took us so long. Hosted by John Moe, “Wits” is a national public radio program that combines sketch comedy, conversation, and game shows with music and special guests. The live shows are edited for broadcast later. We saw David Koechner (“Anchorman,” “The Office,” SNL), who was hilarious, and Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw of the band Metric, who performed acoustic versions of their hits (plus some Lou Reed) the night before closing out Rock the Garden. The house band, the Witnesses, is led by John Munson (Semisonic, The New Standards) and features Janey Winterbauer, who channeled Lady Gaga. The Current’s Barb Abney kept the music going during breaks and urged us to tweet during the show. It was loose and relaxed and very funny. Arts organizations wanting to attract younger crowds should check out a “Wits” show, just for the ambience. The podcast will be released on June 21.
Mixed Blood has announced its 2013-14 season, which starts Saturday, Oct. 5 with a three-play marathon in the “totally new, re-imagined Alan Page Auditorium.” Aditi Brennan Kapil’s “Displaced Hindu Gods,” a trilogy of world premieres based on the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, includes “Braham/I: A One-Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show;” “The Chronicles of Kalki,” a comic book-infused girl-gang thriller; and “Shiv,” a journey from past to present and rebirth. Other plays in the season include “4 Score Toward the Sun” by Anton Jones (Nov. 15-24) and “Passing Strange” by Stew and Heidi Rodewald (April 25-May 18). FMI.
Penumbra has a deal for you: Buy your 2013-14 tickets by June 30 and save 30 percent. The strong comeback season includes the holiday favorite “Black Nativity;” “The Mountaintop,” a fictional portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the eve of his death; “The Ballad of Emmett Till;” and two one-person shows. FMI.
If you’re wondering what happened to Heliotrope, the annual underground music festival: the organizers have decided to “take a pause” for 2013, a “fallow season” that would have led to a “workmanlike event.” Heliotrope has always been an acquired taste, a combination of noise and mind-blowing discovery, and we wish it well as it plans for next year. Read more on the facebook page.
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Our picks for the week
Tonight (Tuesday, June 18) and Wednesday: Reid Anderson’s “The Rough Mixes.” The bassist for the Bad Plus lays down the upright and plays electronics with a stellar group of musicians: SPCO concertmaster and violinist Steven Copes, SPCO violinist Sunmi Chang, Minnesota Orchestra cellist Tony Ross and jazz drummer Jeff Ballard of the Brad Mehldau Trio. Anderson fans have waited patiently for this concert; part of Liquid Music’s first season, it was originally scheduled for last December but got bumped during the lockout of the SPCO musicians. Yours truly wrote a piece for the Strib and a blog post. 7:30 p.m. both nights in the Music Room at SPCO Center, 408 Saint Peter Street, third floor. FMI and tickets ($10/$5).
Wednesday: LitPunch Mixer. Grab a “dance card” and collect John Hancocks from area editors, designers, writers, book reviewers, publicists, and maybe a few media jackals as well. Sponsored by Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, the Loft, Milkweed Editions, and Rain Taxi Review of Books, this schmooze-and-booze event is a fun way to connect with the Twin Cities literary community. 6-8 p.m. at the Amsterdam, 6 West 6th St., St. Paul. Free.
Wednesday: Laura Waterman Wittstock and Dick Bancroft present their book “We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement.” MinnPost’s Amy Goetzman has the story. 7 p.m. at Subtext: a Bookstore, 165 Western Ave N., St. Paul. Free.
Wednesday: “Carmen” in HD. An encore screening of “The Met: Live in HD” presentation of Bizet’s opera, with Elina Garanca as Carmen, Roberto Alagna as Don José, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the toreador Escamillo. Renée Fleming hosts. If you’ve been waffling about seeing opera in a movie theater, try this; it’s the Met’s best-selling transmission to date. Runs about 3 hrs. At the Brooklyn Center 20, Rosedale 14, Eden Prairie 18, Eagan 16, and the Showplace Icon at the West End. 7 p.m. Preorder tickets here.
Wednesday and Thursday: Ramsey Lewis and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Jazz piano legend meets irrepressible diva on the Dakota’s stage. We can’t imagine this will be anything short of spectacular. 7 and 9 p.m. both nights, 1010 Nicollet Mall. FMI and tickets ($60/$50/$40).
Thursday: Third Thursday at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This month’s theme is “Get Local,” a celebration of metro connections and local pride. DJ David Campbell of “Local Current Live” will provide the music in a new partnership between MIA and 89.3 The Current that starts tonight. With local band Strange Names, art activities, visitors from Whittier Alliance, and a guided tour that will help you draw metro connections to the museum’s global collection. 6-9 p.m., 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis. FMI.
Thursday: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The one and only. With 360 voices, over 200 recordings, and millions of records sold, the all-volunteer Mormon Tabernacle Choir is an American icon. They’ll sing choral masterworks, American folk music, hymns and patriotic music including their signature version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The choir will be accompanied by the 60-member Orchestra at Temple Square. Presented by Classical MPR. 7:30 p.m. at the Target Center. FMI and tickets.