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Artist list growing for Cedar benefit; Guthrie’s ‘Othello’ cast set

ALSO: ‘FAR’ at the Orpheum; Adam Meckler Orchestra at Studio Z; Naomi Ko goes to Sundance for debut; and more.

The Brass Messengers are scheduled to perform on Friday, Jan. 24, at the Cedar Cultural Center's benefit for fire victims.
Courtesy of the Cedar

The New Year’s Day fire in Cedar-Riverside claimed three lives, injured 13 others (some critically), destroyed a popular grocery store, and displaced the tenants of all 10 residential units. On Friday, Jan. 24, its neighbor down the street, the Cedar Cultural Center, will join with Augsburg College and KFAI radio to host a benefit concert to raise funds for victims and their families. Artists scheduled to perform so far include Spider John Koerner, the Brass Messengers, Martin Devaney, Southside Desire, an Augsburg student ensemble, and DJ Go Getta with SYAV (Somali Youth Against Violence), with more to be announced soon. Let’s hope that list expands with even bigger names. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 7. FMI and tickets ($20).

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The Guthrie has announced its casting for “Othello,” which opens March 14 on the main stage. Marion McClinton will direct Peter Macon (TV’s “Dexter” and “The Shield”) in the title role, with Tracey Maloney (“Tribes,” “God of Carnage”) as Desdemona and Stephen Yoakam (“An Iliad”) as the loathsome Iago, the play’s plum part. If you’re thinking it’s been a while since the Guthrie mounted “Othello,” you’re right. We last saw it on Vineland Place in the 1993-94 season. FMI and tickets.

You might have seen 23-year-old Twin Cities writer and actor Naomi Ko at one of her usual hangs – Magers & Quinn in Uptown, or Falafel King – but next week she travels to Park City, Utah, for a very big deal: her onscreen debut in “Dear White People” at the Sundance Film Festival. Written and directed by Los Angeles-based Justin Simien, filmed in Minnesota last August, “Dear White People” follows four black students at an Ivy League college after a riot breaks out when white students throw an African-American themed party. The concept trailer went viral on YouTube last year, an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign was a success, Indiewire named the film Project of the Year, Variety dubbed Simien one of its “10 Directors to Watch,” and now “Dear White People” is an early contender for several awards. Ko plays Sungmi, the film’s “racial icebreaker.” A U of M graduate, her acting credits include performances at Mixed Blood, Mu Performing Arts and Bedlam Theatre.

“Dear White People” follows four black students at an Ivy League college after a riot breaks out when white students throw an African-American themed party.

We’re sorry to have to tell you that Sunday’s performance by superstar violinist Hilary Hahn and German pianist and composer Hauschka (who plays prepared piano) is sold out – although some standing-room tickets will be available at the door, and it’s worth a shot to show up early. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Aria in Minneapolis (the former Jeune Lune space). This event is deeply interesting for several reasons. It’s new classical music in a new space, co-presented by two venerable and historic Twin Cities music organizations, the Schubert Club and the SPCO. Both have launched bold new series – respectively, Schubert Club Mix and Liquid Music – aimed at younger audiences. It’s music created by two gifted young musicians who like taking chances. Introduced by a mutual friend, they explored the notion of working together, then met at a recording studio in Iceland (where they spent two months), bringing no written music, no expectations, and no plan except to improvise, which classical musicians normally don’t do. (As Hauschka said, “It’s nice to go on a ground that’s not safe.”). Their album, “Silfra,” which they’ll play from Sunday night, is bold and dreamy and mesmerizing. Here’s a music video of “Bounce Bounce.”

Schubert Club Mix continues April 3 with pianist Anthony de Mare’s “Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano,” which includes a composition by Minnesota-based composer Mary Ellen Childs. Then, on June 3, “ETHEL: Documerica,” with the alternative string quartet Ethel. (Another co-presentation with Liquid Music.) FMI and tickets. Liquid Music has five more events this season, including “Sisyphus” (rapper Serengeti, composer/producer Son Lux, and singer/songwriter/composer Sufjan Stevens), which will take place in the Walker Art Center galleries over three months starting Feb. 14. Liquid Music and the Walker have co-commissioned the trio’s first LP. Here’s a track called “Calm It Down.” Let’s just say that Mix and Liquid Music aren’t your grandmother’s classical music series.

Heads up, composers: Applications are now open for the 2014 McKnight Composer Fellowships, a generous ($25,000), no-strings award for mid-career composers that also includes the opportunity to participate in a one-month artist residency/retreat at a location of your choice. You can read a description and download the guidelines and application information here. The American Composers Forum is the administrator, so we went to ACF’s Craig Carnahan for tips on preparing a successful application. His reply: “Work samples (recordings and, when appropriate, scores) carry a lot of weight, so we encourage applicants to make sure their samples put them in the best light possible and do a good job of capturing the panelists’ attention and keeping them engaged.” Carnahan is available to critique drafts and answer questions along the way. Applicants are encouraged to attend the McKnight Salon on Feb. 20 to hear current fellows talk about how their awards have affected their careers. 7 p.m. at the Landmark Center, Courtroom 317. The application deadline is March 14.

The Minnesota State Arts Board has announced the 2014 Artist Initiative grantees in Media Arts. Among the winners are “Media Mike” Hazard of Minneapolis, a photographer and filmmaker, who will finish his documentary of filmmaker George Stoney; Teresa L. Konechne of Minneapolis, who will gather stories of urban gardeners for films and an online project; and Michael Rivard of St. Paul, who will finish his documentary about In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre’s May Day parade and festival, using footage he has taken over the past 40 years. Rivard must really like MayDay and big puppets. Complete list here.

The Givens Foundation for African American Literature is looking for an executive director. Established in 1972, the Givens Foundation has an active education program, hosts the annual Givens Black Books community reading campaign, presents the NOMMO African American Authors Series (next up: poet Kevin Young on Feb. 12); and engages ten emerging African American writers each year in an eight-month Givens Black Writers Collaborative Retreat. Its mission and programs are inspired by the Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries, a major collection of novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays, and more dating from the late 18th century to the present. Application deadline: Jan. 31. FMI.

The South Metro Chorale is holding auditions for its next big concert: Joseph Haydn’s “The Creation,” scheduled for May 2 at Glendale United Methodist Church in Savage and May 4 at St. Richard’s Catholic Church in Richfield. Interested singers may email artistic director Russell Adrian at

Weekend-into-the-early-week picks

Opens tonight (Friday, Jan. 10) at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: “The Crash Reel.” Lucy Walker’s documentary on extreme snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s rivalry with Shaun White, career-ending head injury, and dramatic recovery has been shortlisted for an Oscar. Pearce will carry the torch during the Opening Ceremonies at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Here’s the trailer. Conclusion: snowboarders are insane. FMI and tickets. Through Thursday, Jan. 16.

Saturday at Studio Z in Lowertown: Adam Meckler Orchestra. Trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator, in-demand sideman, blogger, ponytailed dude, and husband to singer Jana Nyberg, Meckler has it going on. He has many groups, but this is the big one: 18 musicians playing his original music. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10). Come at 6 p.m. for a free workshop.

Sunday at the Dakota: Tiempo Libre. Chilled to the bone? Warm up fast with this Grammy-nominated Latin band. Classically trained in Cuba’s conservatories, now based in Miami, they have performed around the world, appeared on the “Tonight Show” and “Dancing with the Stars,” recorded with Joshua Bell and James Galway, played major festivals, and spread irresistible rhythms wherever they landed. If you can sit still while listening to their infectious “timba” – a potent blend of Latin jazz and Cuban son – then there may be no hope for you. Here’s a video. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($35). 

Tuesday at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts: “The Trail of Inspiration.” Where does inspiration come from? How does it cross media, time and place? Seven years ago, artist Wendy Fernstrum interpreted seven lines by the Persian poet Rumi in a miniature artist book and gave a copy to her friend Charlie Quimby. Three years later, Quimby began work on his debut novel, “Monument Road.” Published in November by Torrey House Press, it was named a Publishers Weekly Big Indie Book. Writers, visual artists, and other creative types will want to sit in. 7 p.m., free. FMI.

Courtesy of the Northrop
Wayne McGregor Random Dance’s “FAR.”

Tuesday at the Orpheum: Wayne McGregor Random Dance, “FAR.” Part of the Northrop dance series, McGregor’s evening-length work draws from the Age of Enlightenment’s studies of the mind-body relationship, 18th-century French philosopher Diderot’s first set of encyclopedias, and cognitive research into creativity. Ten dancers perform to a score by Brian Eno collaborator Ben Frost against visuals including a computerized pin board of 3,200 LED lights. (Liquid Music fans will remember Frost from his performance last February at the Amsterdam.) 7:30 p.m. Here’s a video. FMI and tickets.