Orchestra updates; festivals galore this weekend

By now most of us have heard that former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has been enlisted as peacemaker in the Minnesota Orchestra’s endless labor dispute. Here’s Graydon Royce’s piece for the Star Tribune, and Euan Kerr’s for MPR. Were Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry also on Gov. Mark Dayton’s list of possible mediators? Will orchestra President Michael Henson and Mitchell share tales of their time in Ireland? Henson was CEO of the Ulster Symphony from 1992-1999 and the Bournemouth Symphony from 1999-2007; Mitchell was special envoy for Northern Ireland from 1995-2001.

It seems SPCO violinist Thomas Kornacker is not the retiring kind. Last week he was on the list of 10 musicians who had taken the incentivized retirement package offered in the new contract. By Tuesday he was back in a brand-new role: special assistant to SPCO president Bruce Coppock. In a letter to “members of the SPCO family,” Coppock wrote that “Tom … will work especially hard on an issue of particular importance, assisting in SPCO auditions and the mentoring of new musicians as they come into the orchestra.” A big job in a formerly close and intimate ensemble now reduced by a third.

Courtesy of The Schubert Club/Tim Rummelhoff
Accordo consists of top players from the SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra.

Accordo, the sensitive, expert, exploratory and agile string ensemble made up of SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra principal players, has announced its 2013-14 season. Co-presented by the Schubert Club and Kate Nordstrum Projects, all concerts take place in the Saarinen-designed Christ Church Lutheran, a National Historic Landmark in the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis. Monday, Oct. 7: Mozart and Brahms string quintets. Monday, Dec. 9: works for flute by Mozart and Debussy, the Françaix string trio and a Mendelssohn string quintet. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014: Handel/Halvorsen’s Passacaglia for Violin & Viola, a piano quintet by Tanayev and Beethoven’s “Archduke.” Monday, April 28: piano works by Schumann, Shostakovich and Dvorák. All concerts at 7:30 p.m. FMI and season tickets. Another event, not part of the series, is set for Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Amsterdam in St. Paul: Mozart and Brahms with drinks, context and conversation.

Jack El-Hai

Think of it as a book lover’s mini-Bonnaroo. As part of its MFA Summer Residency program, Augsburg College is holding an intensive series of back-to-back readings by visiting writers and faculty — and inviting the public. Tonight (Friday, July 26): fiction writer Stephan Clark (“Sweetness #9”) and biographer Jack El-Hai (“The Nazi and the Psychiatrist,” “The Lobotomist”). Saturday, July 27: screenwriter Christina Lazaridi (“One Day Crossing,” “Coming Up Roses”). Monday, July 28: memoirist Sue William Silverman (“Love Sick,” “Fearless Confessions”). Tuesday, July 30: novelist and poet Cass Dalglish (“Nin,” “Sweetgrass”) and poet Cary Waterman (“When I Looked Back You Were Gone”). Wednesday, July 31: poet Ed Bok Lee (“Whorled”). Friday, Aug. 2: novelist Benjamin Percy (“Red Moon,” “The Wilding”). All events but one will be at the Tjornhom-Nelson Theater in Foss Center (22nd and Riverside). Lazaridi’s will be a screening in Sateren Auditorium down the hall. 7:30 p.m. Free. FMI

On Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee (seven Republicans, four Democrats including Minnesota’s Betty McCollum) approved its initial FY 2014 funding legislation, which includes a proposed cut of $71 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This 49 percent cut would bring NEA funding down to $75 million, the amount it received in 1974. Funding for the NEA has already been cut by more than $29 million over the past three years. (The subcommittee bill also proposes slashing the National Endowment for the Humanities’ funding by the same amount, with the same bottom line.) Americans for the Arts has made it easy for you to contact your member of Congress and voice your concerns.

If you have children, even grown-up children, chances are you know the work of author, illustrator and Edina native Nancy Carlson. We spent a lot of time at our house with her characters Loudmouth George (a rabbit), Louanne Pig, and Harriet the golden retriever. Carlson has launched a new blog, “Putting One Foot in Front of the Other,” in which she shares a devastating diagnosis (her husband, Barry McCool, has frontotemporal dementia) and how it changed their lives overnight. It’s a wake-up call to all creatives (may we say especially women creatives?) to get their finances in order.

The best-lookin’ man in comedy has signed to local label Secret Stash Records, specialists in 1970s-era Afrobeat reissues, famous for the “Twin Cities Funk & Soul” collection of vintage R&B tracks from Minnesota, which we think we’ll cue up right now because it’s so awesome. When asked how he feels about joining Secret Stash, Fancy Ray said, “Them joining forces with Fancy Ray is a brilliant move.”

fancy ray and eric foss
Courtesy of Secret Stash Records
Fancy Ray with Eric Foss, co-founder of Secret Stash

Walking the dachshund near the Lake Harriet bandstand last weekend, where a band was playing to a happy crowd, we were reminded to remind you of the truly amazing Music in the Parks programs offered by both the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation. We’re well into summer and each is in full swing. The heat wave has lifted, life is short, get out there. Here’s the full schedule for Minneapolis, ditto for St. Paul.

On the topic of good weather, USA Today has named the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis the best bike path in the U.S. Better even than the spectacularly scenic Lakefront Trail in Chicago, a hard act to beat. All nine of the other trails look awfully good, so hurray for us.

On sale today: The Second City: “Happily Ever Laughter” at the Fitz on Saturday, Sept. 7. The Daily Show’s John Oliver at the State on Saturday, Oct. 12. Nine-time Grammy winner John Legend at the State on Tuesday, Nov. 19. On sale Saturday at 10 a.m.: Bonnie Raitt Slipstream Tour 2013 with special guest Mavis Staples at the Convention Center, Wednesday, Oct. 23. Ticketmaster.

Our picks for the weekend

It’s possible, and highly recommended, to party in and around the Dakota all weekend and into next week. Start tonight (Friday, July 26) with rootsy, bluesy, piano-pounding Davina & the Vagabonds, a guaranteed good time. Come back Saturday for the Dakota Street Fest, a noon-to-10 p.m. blowout with live music on four stages, a Kidsville, fire dancers, Chicks on Sticks stilt walkers, a Jaguar tent (that’s cars, not cats), and more. With music by Debbie Duncan, Patty Peterson, Toki Wright, Walter Chancellor and Hydroponic Jazz, Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Paul Metsa and Willie Walker, Nachito Herrera – and a Secret Stash After Party. On Nicollet Mall between 10th and 12th. On Sunday and Monday, Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers bring NOLA north. (Special note to jazz fans: The great bassist and Miles Davis alum Dave Holland brings his new quartet, Prism, to the Dakota Sept. 28-29. With Kevin Eubanks on guitar, Eric Harland on drums, and our own Craig Taborn on keys. How many ways can we say, “Don’t you dare miss this”?)

Courtesy of the Dakota/Andrea Canter
The Dakota Street Fest takes place on Saturday from noon-to-10 p.m.

Tonight in Northeast Minneapolis: Northeast Dog Parade. An evening for dogs and owners alike with treats including Dogtail Hours and a Flea Market. 6 p.m., Chute Park at Central and University. Related: “Bark at Art … and purr,” a pet-friendly art opening benefiting The Pet Project. Artwork inspired by our furry friends, a showing of last year’s Internet Cat Video Festival video. 7 – 10 p.m. (film at 8), Gallery 122 at Hang It, 122 S. 8th St., Minneapolis.

Tonight and tomorrow in the Chanhassen’s Fireside Theater: “Unforgettable: A Tribute to Nat King Cole” with Dennis Spears and the Wolverines. If you saw Spears at the Penumbra in “I Wish You Love,” you know he can totally do Nat King Cole. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Tonight through Sunday on the Lake Harriet trolley: Solve a murder mystery staged by current and former Southwest High students directed by Dave Premack. “A Most Modern Murder,” an interactive whodunit, happens on the trolley at 9 p.m. all three nights (plus next Friday, Aug. 2). FMI and tickets ($15).

Saturday in Mears Park: Lowertown Roots Music Festival. Zydeco, blues, bluegrass, and Nordic roots music, free for the hearing in lovely Mears Park. The full day of music ends with Randy Sabien’s Violin Roots Ensemble (7 p.m.) and headliner C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band (8:30 p.m.). The music starts at 2:30 p.m.

Courtesy of The Grand Hand Gallery
Untitled (jazz trio with Malcolm) by Malcolm Myers

Saturday at the Grand Hand Gallery: opening reception for “Malcolm Myers – All That Jazz.” Minnesota painter, printmaker and longtime U of M professor of art Malcolm Myers (1917-2002) loved American jazz and blues. He found inspiration for much of his work in music. The Grand Hand is working with his estate to offer a selection of his paintings and prints – limited releases of remaining work by a major Minnesota artist. Opening reception 5 – 7 p.m., with saxophonist Irv Williams expected to play. 619 Grand Ave., St. Paul. FMI.

Saturday and Sunday in Stephens Square Park: Red Hot Art & Music Festival. Affordable art by more than 100 emerging artists, a varied musical line-up including up-and-coming bands, DJ sets, performances by Brave New Workshop and the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Association, free bike tune-ups, food trucks, and interactive games. A grassroots arts festival in a historic urban neighborhood. Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. At 19th St. between Stevens and 2nd Aves., Minneapolis. FMI.

Monday at Subtext: Investigative journalist Russ Baker discusses “Family of Secrets,” his book about the Bush Family and NSA surveillance. Subtext says he’ll talk about the new surveillance scandal and what you need to know. 7 p.m., 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul.

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