Violinists Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell, former SPCO music director Hugh Wolff, maestro Osmo Vänskä, former Minnesota Orchestra associate conductor Mischa Santora and American composer Judd Greenstein have all signed on for the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra’s self-produced winter-spring season – 10 concerts of music old and new to be held at the Ted Mann, the O’Shaughnessy and Northrop.
“Music for Minnesota: A Season of Shining Stars” will include two Grammy Celebration concerts on March 20 and 21, during which Vänskä will lead the musicians in the Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4. Bell will perform April 15 with guest conductor Michael Stern of the Kansas City Symphony. Perlman will appear as conductor and soloist on May 14. The Minnesota Chorale will join the musicians in January for Mozart’s “Requiem” led by Wolff. In February, Greenstein will reprise his lovely “Acadia,” a crowd-sourced commission that premiered at Orchestra Hall in March 2012. For an orchestra without salaries, benefits, or the keys to its own house, it’s an amazing season. Go here FMI and links to ticket sales.
The season announcement comes at the end of a week that can only be described as surreal. On Monday, the musicians held a community meeting at which they revealed plans for more concerts and how much money they have raised so far (to date, more than $600,000). On Tuesday, 10 DFL state legislators, including Sen. John Marty and Rep. Phyllis Kahn called for the resignations of MOA CEO Michael Henson, board chair Jon Campbell and past chair Richard Davis. On Wednesday at its annual meeting, the MOA board re-elected Campbell; Davis will stay on, and Henson isn’t going anywhere.
The MOA reported total expenses for 2012-13 of $13.1 million and an operating loss of $1.1 million, citing the loss as proof that the current business model is “out of alignment.” The musicians responded that “the leadership of the MOA managed to spend $13 million and run a $1 million deficit while producing no concerts.” The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, who’s been watching us like a hawk, wrote, “Words fail,” then dubbed the MOA’s report “dumbfounding.” Aspirins all around, please, or something much stronger.
Set your DVR (or stay home?) for 8 p.m. tonight (Friday, Dec. 13), the first national PBS broadcast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Emmy-nominated opera “Silent Night.” Commissioned by the Minnesota Opera, composed by Kevin Puts with a libretto by Mark Campbell, “Silent Night” premiered at the Ordway in November 2011. The opera recounts the Christmas Eve truce of World War I, a miraculous moment of peace during which enemies became brothers, sharing Christmas and burying their dead. Go here for a complete broadcast schedule, digital program, and more.
Minnesota Opera has invited the cast and creative team of the original production to join a nationwide conversation during the broadcast across multiple social media channels – Facebook, Twitter (@mnopera, #SilentNightPBS), and Instagram (@mnopera) – if you must keep your thumbs busy. The Minnesota Opera will facilitate a live chat while curating a collection of all the social media posts.
The U of M is feeling proud of “Silent Night.” Theatre Arts associate Professor Marcus Dillard did the lighting design; School of Music alum Karin Wolverton plays the role of Anna Sorenson. “Every production is a unique experience, but giving life to a new work like ‘Silent Night’ is particularly challenging and rewarding,” Dillard said in a statement. Especially when it makes the big time.
Playwright Carson Kreitzer is the recipient of the 2014 Joe Dowling Annaghmakerrig Fellowship Award. She will spend two weeks at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, an artists’ retreat on the estate of Annaghmakerrig, Guthrie’s home in Ireland. Kreitzer’s body of work for the Guthrie includes “The Glory of God,” “Be Here Now…” and “South Street.” She recently received a commission to write a new play for the Guthrie and will use her time in Ireland to start working on it. In less salubrious news, the theater reported an operating loss of $438,000, the largest in two decades. Winners (in terms of ticket sales): “Pride and Prejudice,” “Clybourne Park,” “The Servant of Two Masters.” Losers: the Christopher Hampton festival and “A Long Day’s Journey into Night,” directed by Dowling.
Steven Yeun can slay zombies, but can he make us laugh? Yeun, who stars as Glenn on the gory AMC-TV hit series “The Walking Dead,” will headline one of three new “Wits” shows coming in February. Yeun will appear on Friday, Feb. 28 at the Fitz with musical guest Motion City Soundtrack, the Minneapolis-based rock band. On Friday, Feb. 7, Andy Richter of “Conan” will be joined by Neko Case of the New Pornographers. On Friday, Feb. 14, it’s Marc Maron (of the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast) with singer/songwriter Jason Isbell and fiddler/singer/songwriter Amanda Shires. Hosted by John Moe, “Wits” shows are fun and unpredictable. By February, you’ll be desperate for some levity. Tickets go on sale to the public Thursday, Dec. 19 at 5 p.m.
If you’ve been thinking, “One day isn’t long enough for ‘Rock the Garden,’” so, apparently, have co-sponsors the Walker and 89.3 The Current. Rock the Garden 2014 will last two days: Saturday – Sunday, June 21-22, both from 3-10 p.m. Looking ahead to that will help some of us make it through the winter.
Sometimes we don’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone. Have you been missing Roy Lichtenstein’s “Salute to Painting,” the iconic sculpture that stood tall for years on the Walker’s Vineland Terrace? It’s back, reinstalled Thursday morning. It was removed in February when the Walker began resurfacing the Barnes building (the brick part), a project that is now complete. Welcome back, Mr. Lichtenstein.
Signed books make great gifts. Stop by the Mall of America tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 14) to meet legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant, who will sign copies of his autobiography “I Did It My Way: A Remarkable Journey to the Hall of Fame.” Not to mention four Super Bowls. Because this is Bud Grant, superstar, plan to arrive early to get a wristband and buy a book. Wristbands (limited number) are first come, first served starting at 11 a.m. in the Rotunda. Each person in your party must be present to receive a wristband. No posed photographs. No memorabilia signing – books only. Plan to be there awhile; the signings start at 1 p.m. Potty breaks are allowed if another member of your party stays in the signing line. FMI and other Official Event Guidelines here.
No wristbands (and probably not a whole lot of waiting) are required to have Karen Melvin’s “Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District” signed at SubText: A Bookstore that same day. Photographer Melvin and some of the writers whose work appears in the book will be there from 1- 3 p.m. We’re kind of hoping someone buys this for us.
An unusual opportunity for children’s book authors and illustrators: the St. Paul Library plans to publish two bilingual children’s picture books in English and Karen, the language spoken by the Karen people of Burma. You don’t have to know Karen, but it can’t hurt. The target audience is beginning readers up to kindergarten age. For more information, email Pang Yang, Library Community Services Coordinator.
You can sing along with Lady Gaga when she comes to the Xcel in May, or indulge your urge to chime in with a crowd sooner (and more economically) elsewhere. This Sunday (Dec. 15), Kathy Saltzman Romey will conduct the Minnesota Chorale in a “Messiah” sing-along at St. Olaf Church in Minneapolis, with Dr. Lynn Trapp at the organ. 6:30 p.m., free will offering. On Christmas Eve (Tuesday, Dec. 24), the St. Paul JCC will host a sing-along screening of the film “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” starring Donny Osmond, complete with props, lyric sheets and noshes. Costumes are encouraged. 5:30 p.m. Free, but reservations are requested; call 651-698-0751. On Sunday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m., you can join the Minnesota Chorale in singing Mozart’s “Requiem” at Landmark Center. 3 p.m., free will offering. On Saturday, March 22, “Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music” returns to the Ordway for two performances, 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Not free, but at $20 waaaay cheaper than Lady Gaga. FMI and tickets.
Our picks for the weekend
Tonight (Friday, Dec. 13) at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka: “Night, Love, and … Murder!” A tantalizing title for a refreshingly non-holiday evening of new vocal works by Minnesota composers. Baritone Michael Kelly and pianist Mary Jo Gothmann perform Libby Larsen’s “The Peculiar Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes,” music by Stephen Paulus and Dominick Argento, and the world premiere of “Interview” by Venezuelan American composer Reinaldo Moya, in which a twisted dictator is interviewed but we the audience don’t hear the questions; we must imagine what they are. 7:30 p.m. Free. Kelly is in town to perform “Messiah” with the SPCO next weekend.
Starts tonight at the St. Anthony Main Theatre: “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky.” French filmmaker Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Dave Chapelle’s Block Party”) admits to feeling “a bit stupid” when he sat down to talk with one of the world’s great thinkers. He turned an in-office chat into one of the year’s most intriguing films. As Chomsky waxes philosophical about childhood language acquisition, religion, astrology, and other heady topics, Gondry turns Chomsky’s theories and ideas into hand-drawn animations. Here’s the trailer. FMI and tickets.
Opens tonight at the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art: Dark & Stormy’s production of Adam Bock’s “The Receptionist.” Elizabeth Fei of Theoroi, a group of arts ambassadors ages 21-35 sponsored by the Schubert Club, wrote this preview for MinnPost: “A newcomer on the Twin Cities arts scene, Dark & Stormy Productions aims ‘to find, develop, and sustain the next generation of theater-goers, and to provide exciting, exceptional theater experiences for current audiences.’ As someone who fits their target demographic, I must say they’re after my heart with ‘The Receptionist,’ which promises to provide a humorous glimpse into daily office escapades and a hint of the sinister – all in just 75 minutes, the perfect accessible length for administrative assistants, secretaries and office managers everywhere. The unusual staging – in office space at the Traffic Zone Center – is sure to lend a layer of authenticity to the production, plus I’m always a sucker for a mind-bending plot twist.” Dark & Stormy’s presentation of Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” earlier this year at the Miller Bag Building won raves. To warm us up for “The Receptionist,” they gave two free readings of earlier Bock plays in October and November at the Casket Arts Building and Mixed Blood. They get around. All shows are at 7:30 p.m. $25 general admission, $15 if you’re under 30. Through Jan. 4. FMI and tickets.
Saturday at Kolman & Pryor Gallery: Artist reception and opening for “Tidal Music,” a show of new work by Kelly Jean Ohl, who uses household utensils and dental tools to carve clay into sculptures – exquisitely crafted, intricately detailed and richly textured. Many resemble sea creatures, some make music or sounds. Please touch. 7 – 10 p.m. Free and open to the public. Studio 395 in the Northrop King Building. Through Saturday, Jan. 4.
Saturday and Sunday at the Convention Center: Eije Oue conducts the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky program including Symphony No. 4, selections from “The Nutcracker,” and Piano Concerto No. 1, with guest pianist Jon Kimura Parker. Oue was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1995-2002, just before Osmo Vänskä. 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and link to tickets. Of all the orchestra’s past music directors still living, Neville Marriner (director 1979-86) is the only one who hasn’t returned to conduct the musicians during the lockout.
Sunday at Boneshaker Books: Wine and Poetry Social. Wine is better with poetry, and poetry is better with wine. Boneshaker has invited five award-winning Minnesota poets to read and schmooze. Meet Patricia Barone, Kathryn Kysar, Ethna McKiernan, Charles Britt Flemming and Carol Masters, raise a glass or two, and enjoy hanging out at a neighborhood bookstore. Boneshaker is at 2002 23rd Ave. S. in Minneapolis. 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free.
Monday at the Dakota: Peter Kogan. The principal timpanist of the Minnesota Orchestra released a fine album of original jazz compositions, “Cornucopia,” earlier this year. He’ll perform with Pete Whitman, Adam Meckler, Keith Hilson, Tanner Taylor, Cory Wong and Brian Courage. 7 p.m., $10 at the door.