VocalEssence announced yesterday that it will move the first concert of its 45th season, “There Was a Child,” from Orchestra Hall to Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. They delayed the venue change as long as possible, hoping the labor dispute between the Minnesota Orchestral Association and the musicians would end. Since that’s not happening anytime soon – and since VocalEssence has contracted with 50 instrumentalists who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union – it was time for Plan B. Composer Jonathan Dove and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who recently resigned as director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute, will both be in attendance. The concert takes place Sunday, Oct. 27 at 4 p.m., preceded at 3 p.m. by a Concert Conversation with Dove and MPR’s John Birge. FMI and tickets.
Minnesota Opera has become a magnet for $100,000 grants. Last week they received one from the Hearst Foundation, and this week another from the Knight Foundation. The Hearst money will go toward education and outreach programs. We like that. We love how the Knight money will be used: to simulcast the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season openers in Landmark Plaza in downtown St. Paul, where anyone can come and watch them for free. Way to reach out to the public, MN Opera. The company is spending most of October at a community residency in Red Wing, working with high-school students and giving two “Opera’s Greatest Hits” concerts. Up next in the 2013-14 season at the Ordway: Richard Strauss’s witty romantic comedy “Arabella.” Nov. 9–17. Five performances. FMI and tickets.
Salman Rushdie will present the 2013 Lucas Lecture at Carleton College in Northfield on Friday, Oct. 25. His talk, “Censorship and The Satanic Verses: 25 Years Later,” is part of an ongoing series, “Censorship, Blasphemy and Free Speech,” presented by the college’s Humanities Center. Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” met with a heated reaction from Muslims when it was first published in 1988; in 1989, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill him. Rushdie went into hiding for nine years. 6 p.m. in the Recreation Center. Free and open to the public; register online.
The Minnesota Center for Book Arts has announced the recipients of this year’s MCBA/Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowships, emerging Minnesota artists who will create independent projects throughout the coming year, then show them off in a group exhibition at MCBA in October 2014. Georgia A. Greeley is a visual artist and writer who combines words and images. Amara Hark-Weber is a book artist, designer and shoemaker. Lisa Loudon is a mixed-media artist whose work explores ideas of invasion and disintegration; Alonso Sierraita is a sculptor. Amoreena “Amo” Tarvas is a tattoo artist, illustrator and printmaker. Past projects by Book Arts fellows have included fine-press volumes, one-of-a-kind installations, and performances.
The government shutdown has put a serious crimp in a certain T. Rex’s travel plans. Let’s hope nothing stops Cryolophosaurus and friends from stomping into the Science Museum next spring. “Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Godwana,” opening March 1, features 20 fully-articulated dinosaur specimens unfamiliar to most North Americans – not only Cryolophosaurus but also Eoraptor, Messospondylus, and the promisingly named Gigantosaurus. These are all species that evolved in isolation in South America, Africa and Madagascar. How did that happen? The Science Museum explains: “As [supercontinent] Pangaea divided first into Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south, and later into the many continents we know today, dinosaurs were passengers on these drifting land masses.” Dream on that as you go about your day.
The Minneapolis Convention Center has issued a call for entries for the second annual Creative City Challenge. Artists, architects and designers are invited to submit ideas by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, for “a temporary structure on the MCC Plaza, which is a compelling destination project that reflects the city’s commitment to sound ecological practices and serves as a platform for social and participatory interactions, planned and informal, throughout the summer. It is intended as a conceptual and physical portal for residents and visitors to the MCC and the City of Minneapolis.” Can’t someone just build a nice fountain, or a big, shiny bean like the one in Chicago’s Millennium Park? We’re grousing because last year’s winner, the Minneapolis Interactive Macro Mood Installation (MIMMI), left us scratching our heads. We never quite got it. Interested parties may attend information sessions on Oct. 15, Oct. 22 and Nov. 12. A professional jury will select three finalists to develop their proposals by Dec. 2013. Each finalist will receive a $2,500 fee to prepare a final proposal. The winner will be chosen by a public vote in Feb. 2014 and announced on March 3. The commission fee for the selected project is $75,000.
A half-dozen reasons to see “Jherek Bischoff: Composed” at the Fitz on Oct. 18:
1) Bischoff is a hot young composer and a fast-rising star in the world of contemporary classical music. He convinced David Byrne to sing a song on his latest album (here’s the video), and also Caetano Veloso, one of Brazil’s biggest pop stars. People want to work with him because he’s passionate, genuine and brimming with musical ideas.
2) He’s performing here with an international all-star group you’ll never see again. Channy Leaneagh, lead singer with the band Poliça. Sondra Lerche, Norway’s king of pop, so famous there he’s on a postage stamp. Icelandic folk singer Ólöf Arnolds. Greg Saunier, drummer for the San Francisco indie noise band Deerhoof. Plus SPCO musicians Sunmi Chang and Elsa Nilsson (violins), Maiya Papach (viola), Sarah Lewis (cello), Charlie Block (bass), and Michelle Campbell (clarinets).
The concert is part of the Liquid Music series presented by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Now that the lockout has ended, Liquid Music events can include SPCO musicians, which was the plan all along.
3) “Jherek Bischoff: Composed” is being co-presented with the Walker, MPR, and the American Swedish Institute, making it one of the season’s most stretchy collaborations.
4) Bischoff has led an unusual life. Named for a character in a science fiction novel, he spent most of his childhood on a sailboat – a small sailboat – that was moored on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, except for a two-year trip through Central America, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. He says “Ahoy!” instead of “Hello!” He plays saxophone, clarinet, tuba, trombone, trumpet, acoustic and electric bass, guitar, ukulele, banjo, cello, and violin. Mostly self-taught, he composes on a ukulele. He owns almost nothing except his musical instruments and his clothes. Small wonder his music is boundary-busting and unpredictable.
5) To make his 2012 album “Composed,” Bischoff loaded his backpack with a laptop, microphone and Mbox (a portable audio interface), climbed on his bike, rode to the homes of musician friends, and recorded them in their living rooms. Each musician played a track several times. When Bischoff put everything together, it sounded like an orchestra. For the show at the Fitzgerald, Bischoff will create new arrangements of songs sent to him by the guest vocalists, and they in turn will put their own spin on songs by Bischoff.
6) So no one knows exactly what will happen during the concert. As Bischoff told Leaneagh in an email interview for the Walker, “Most of the pieces will involve all of the musicians and one singer at a time. I try to write my arrangements to leave a lot of room for individuals to express themselves if they want to … I try to identify who in the group is the goofball, who’s the improviser, who’s the shy one. Then we decide together to make everyone comfortable and excited. It’s a lot of little decisions, but when you try to stay on your toes and use your knowledge and experience, all of those decisions can really result in an ecstatic music love fest.”
Intrigued? FMI and tickets. (Unless you bought Liquid Music series tickets through the SPCO, you’ll have to go through Ticketmaster or visit the Fitzgerald Theater box office.)
Our picks for the weekend
Tonight (Friday, Oct. 11): “Hats Off to Dr. Seuss” at Jean Stephen Galleries in St. Louis Park. Turns out Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, author of “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins,” had a huge collection of hats. For the first time ever, many of his hats are on tour. A series of works adapted from his original drawings, paintings, and sculpture will also be on display and available for purchase. Opening reception with curator Jeff Schuffman, 5 – 8 p.m.; talk by Schuffman at 7 p.m. Exhibition runs through Saturday, Oct. 26. FMI.
Tonight and Saturday, Oct. 12: Bill Carrothers “After Hours” Trio at the Artists’ Quarter. The news that the beloved St. Paul basement jazz club will close at the end of December fell like a bomb on our local jazz community. The AQ is the only full-time jazz club in the Twin Cities and its loss will be immeasurable. (We blogged about it and link to other press, if you want to take a look.) The story isn’t over until the big Dexter Gordon poster is carried out and the door slams shut for good, and many of us are hoping the club can be saved in some form. Until then, the clock is ticking, and if you’ve always wanted to go or you haven’t been for a while, get busy. Bill Carrothers is one of the finest, most exciting, inventive and sensitive pianists you’ll ever hear. Like many jazz musicians, he’s better known in Europe than he is in the States. He’ll be joined by Billy Peterson on bass and AQ club owner Kenny Horst on drums. 9 p.m., $15 at the door.
Saturday, Oct. 12: Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Now in its 12th year, this annual gathering for the Twin Cities’ literary community features rock-star authors, local literary heroes, publishers, new books, a gigantic used book sale, a literary magazine fair (subscribe to literary journals at “try-out” prices), readings, a raffle, panels, food, and a full day of activities for kids and adults. About 7,000 people are expected to attend. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the Progress Center. Free. FMI.
Saturday, Oct. 12: “A Strange and Separate People” at the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company. Jay and Phyllis are a young, Upper West Side, Orthodox Jewish couple whose marriage unravels when Jay becomes romantically involved with Stuart, a handsome and charismatic doctor. Jon Marans’ play, which has its regional premiere at MJTC, explores the struggle to accept homosexuality while observing religious beliefs – something many people of all faiths have faced. With Brandon Bruce, Elena Gianetti, and Nate Cheeseman, directed by Kurt Schweickhardt – all non-Jews BTW. FMI and tickets.
Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13: The Glass Studio Tour. Now in its 10th year, this annual event takes you to the studios, hot shops and galleries of nationally recognized glass artists from Minneapolis to Minnetonka, Mahtomedi, Little Canada, and Bethel. Eleven locations, 17 artists including Malcolm Potek, Kara van Wyk, Andrew Shea, Eric Sommers, and David Royce. Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m. FMI and map.
Sunday, Oct. 13: The Bakken Trio, “Laughter through tears …” at MacPhail. Music of the Jewish odyssey, chosen by Stephanie Arado, featuring superstar clarinetist David Krakauer. Includes Copland’s “Vitebsk: Study on a Jewish Theme,” Shostakovich’s String Quartet #4, and Golijov’s “The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind.” 4 p.m., Antonello Hall. Free.
Sunday, Oct. 13: Lyra Baroque, “Ein Liederabend: Two Prodigies and a Papa” at Hamline’s Sundin Music Hall. The Lyra Baroque Orchestra plays 17th- and 18th- century music on period instruments. The first concert of their 2013-14 season features music by Mozart and Reichardt (prodigies) and Joseph Haydn, known as “Papa.” With soprano Maria Jette and Lyra Baroque director Jacques Ogg on piano. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets.
Monday, Oct. 14: “Let’s Talk Theatre: Preserving Penumbra’s History and Legacy” at Penumbra Theatre. A special event and book signing celebrating the publication of “Penumbra: The Premier Stage for African American Drama” by Macelle Mahala (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Author Mahala and Penumbra founder and artistic director Lou Bellamy will share insight into the book and discuss Penumbra’s past, present and future. Light snacks and refreshments. 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Free; $10 suggested donation. Reservations required.