MN Orchestra earns another Grammy nomination; musicians add 2nd May concert with Vänskä

The Minnesota Orchestra has received its second Grammy nomination in two years for Best Orchestral Performance, this time for “Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4.” Last year’s Grammy nod was for “Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5.” Plans were for the Minnesota Orchestra to record “Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6” in mid-September, continuing its series on the respected Swedish label BIS, but that didn’t happen because the musicians have been locked out since Oct. 1, 2012, in a historically long and bitter labor dispute. The cancellation of the September recording sessions, followed by the cancellation of two November concerts by the orchestra at Carnegie Hall, led to music director Osmo Vänskä’s resignation Oct. 1, and soon after to the cancellation of the orchestra’s 2015 residency at the BBC Proms. We apologize for our redundancy, but there’s no acceptable synonym for “cancellation.”

In his review for the Star Tribune, Larry Fuchsberg had high praise for Sibelius 1 & 4, which you might want to add to your Christmas list. He calls special attention to the “spellbinding account of its opening clarinet monologue” by Burt Hara, who left the orchestra in May for a position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. MPR’s Luke Taylor has compiled a list, with descriptions, of the many distinguished recordings by the Orchestra and Vänskä, 11 in all. Sibelius 3 & 6 would have made it an even dozen.

Minnesota can claim still more Grammy connections. Composer/conductor and Windom native Maria Schneider’s “Winter Morning Walks” was nominated for three Grammys: Best Contemporary Classical Composition; Best Classical Vocal Solo, for renowned soprano and former SPCO artistic partner Dawn Upshaw’s performance on “Winter Morning Walks”; and Best Engineered Album, Classical (kudos to David Frost, Brian Losch and Tim Martyn). The SPCO is also featured on the album, performing Schneider’s “Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories” featuring Upshaw.

Meanwhile, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have added a second concert with Vänskä to the reopening of Northrop Auditorium in May. The first, scheduled for Friday, May 2, sold out almost immediately. The second will take place Sunday, May 4, and 2 p.m. Tickets go on sale at noon next Monday, Dec. 16. FMI and link to tickets (not yet live). And the SPCO, which ended its own seven-month lockout on April 30, last Tuesday announced a balanced budget for fiscal year 2012-13 and a net surplus of over $280,000. That amount cuts an accumulated deficit of nearly $800,000 down to $512,000, which the SPCO plans to eliminate over the coming years through planned surpluses.

On the topic of money (for which there are several synonyms, some entertaining: scratch, dough, bread, loot, clams, moola, smackers), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) last week released a preliminary report on the impact of arts and culture on the U.S. economy. According to the new Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA), the first federal effort to learn how many greenbacks the arts and cultural sector contributes to current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP), 3.2 percent of 2011’s GDP was attributable to arts and culture. Which doesn’t seem like much until you translate that into Benjamins: $504 billion. In contrast, BEA’s estimated value of the U.S. travel and tourism industry was 2.8 percent of GDP. Take that, travel and tourism.

Chedda and the arts is the focus of the next Policy and a Pint, co-presented by 89.3 the Current and the Citizens League. On Monday, Dec. 16, radio host Steve Seel and guests Gülgün Kayim (director of arts, culture, and the creative economy for the City of Mineapolis), Laura Zabel (executive director, Springboard for the Arts) and Peter Leggett (chair of St. Paul’s Cultural STAR board) will meet at the Varsity to talk about the connection between arts, culture and economic health. We’re telling you now because these events often sell out. Doors at 5:30 p.m., event at 6. $10; $5 students and Target employees with valid ID. Register here.

With libraries across the country slashing hours and staff due to budget cuts, it’s heartening to learn that the Hennepin County Library will add hours starting Jan. 5. Responding to patron requests and use trends, making hours between libraries more consistent (and schedules less confusing), 34 libraries will increase hours, three (Roosevelt, Southeast, Webber Park) will maintain hours, and four (Champlin, Maple Plain, Oxboro, Westonka) will reduce hours. In all, the library will add 249 open hours per week across its 41-library system. That’s a lot, actually. Here’s the full 2014 hours schedule.

The Jungle has extended “Driving Miss Daisy” through Dec. 29. We loved it when we saw it last month. FMI and tickets. To meet demand, the History Theatre has added a performance of its Andrews Sisters holiday USO show, “Christmas of Swing.” All WWII veterans are invited to attend for free. Now through Sunday, Dec. 22. FMI and tickets

Last week on “Top Chef,” Twin Cities chef Sara Johannes was told to pack her knives and go. She had a rough time during the “Restaurant Wars” episode and also the judges’ review, where she threw some attitude at Padma, but she can cook for us anytime. Plus she knows how to wear a head wrap. Johannes is executive chef at Shoyu, a Japanese noodle and sushi shop familiar mainly to travelers, since it’s at the MSP airport on the other side of the security checkpoints.

Courtesy of Bluewater Productions
Bluewater Productions has released a new 32-page comic
book about Prince.

Five diverse and worthy diversions featuring Minnesota musicians: 1) A song by saxophonist George Cartwright is included with the latest issue of the award-winning literary magazine Oxford American, shoulder-to-shoulder with songs by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bessie Smith, Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris and other artists. The issue’s theme is Southern music, with a focus on songs about Tennessee. Cartwright’s contribution is “He Who’d Ask.” Listen here, then buy the current Oxford American at B&N or Common Good. 2) Vocalist Sophia Shorai sings Dylan’s eternally touching “Forever Young” for a Kohl’s holiday commercial. If you want more (we did, because it’s irresistible), she has released a full-length version, now available at cdbaby and iTunes. 3) Dessa gave a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR and sang three songs from her terrific new album, “Parts of Speech.” Watching a Tiny Desk Concert always makes us dream of inviting stars to perform in our similarly unspacious living room. 4) Bluewater Productions has released a new 32-page comic book about Prince. Written by Michael Frizell, with art by Ernesto Lovera, it’s what Prince fans want. Download from iTunes or order from Comic Flea Market.

Finally: 5) “Minnesota Beatle Project Volume 5” is now available. This annual compilation of Beatles songs covered by Minnesota musicians is a treat for music lovers and Beatles fans and a gift to kids: 100 percent of net proceeds support music education across Minnesota. Enjoy Dosh’s take on “Blue Jay Way,” the Greycoats’ “Nowhere Man,” the Suburbs’ “Taxman,” Actual Wolf’s “Your Mother Should Know,” and Sonny Knight & The Lakers’ “Day Tripper” while doing good for kids and music programs in our public schools. Quantities are limited, so get thee to Target, the Electric Fetus, or another record store. This is the last “Beatle Project” release; Vega Productions, the nonprofit behind the series, has a new idea up its sleeve for 2014.

Our picks for the week

Tonight at SubText: Jim Walsh presents “The Replacements: Washed Up Hair and Painted Shoes: The Photographic History.” A MinnPost contributor and author of the earlier “The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting: An Oral History,” Walsh shares his latest look back at the iconic Minnesota-based band. 7 p.m. FMI.

Wednesday at Bryant Lake Bowl: The Star Wars Holiday Special 35th Anniversary Spectacular! After devoting Friday’s Artscape to holiday events, we vowed privately to forego all such for today … and then we found this. A 1978 TV special set in the Star Wars galaxy and starring the film’s main cast, it was broadcast in its entirety only once, apparently because it’s such a train wreck. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) once called it “the horrible Holiday Special that nobody talks about.” Now, of course, it’s a cult thing. Bring an unwrapped toy donation (for Toys for Tots) and get in free. 7 p.m. (doors at 6) and 10 p.m. (doors at 9:30).

Wednesday at select cinemas: the (London’s) West End production of Noël Coward’s “Private Lives.” Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor star. Go here, click the orange “Buy Tickets” button and enter your ZIP to find the nearest theater(s).

Thursday at the U: a winter light show designed by students at the College of Science and Engineering. A 3D sensory experience: lights synchronized to music composed and performed by students, plus a 22-foot lighted tree, an 8-foot snowman sign, and a big lighted M. Presented by the Tesla Works student group in the Civil Engineering Building Plaza, 500 Pillsbury Dr. SE, Minneapolis. Free and open to the public. At 5:30 p.m., 6, 6:30, and 7. Also Friday and Saturday.

Thursday at Pillsbury House Theatre: “3 Figure$” by Emily Zimmer. Part of Pillsbury House’s annual “Naked Stages” series featuring completely new, interdisciplinary work from artists with local, national and international credentials. Zimmer performs with Frank Theater, Open Eye Figure Theater, Children’s Theatre Company and more. Her play uses three characters to explore the financial collapse of 2008. OK, maybe not the cheeriest holiday fare, but it might keep you from overspending. Also in the series: Moheb Solimen’s “A Great Lakes Vista” and Zainab Musa’s “Habeas Corpus.” FMI and pick-your-price tickets here.

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