Mayor Hodges’ gala to include Chastity Brown, Gay Men’s Chorus

MinnPost file photo by Terry Gydesen
The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, seen here performing at city hall in August, are set to perform at Mayor Betsy Hodges' inauguration gala on Saturday.

What’s an inauguration celebration without music – lots of music? Like St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s to-do last Friday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ gala this Saturday, Jan. 11, will feature a full program of performers — including Chastity Brown, the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, hip-hop artist Desdamona, Big Jess from the Unknown Prophets, Lydia Liza from Bomba de Luz, beat boxer Carnage, and the Iron Boy Drum Circle, plus an appearance by The Theater of Public Policy, which notes on its website, “On the campaign, we asked her if she needed any improv after she was elected and this looks like the first campaign promise that she’ll keep.” 7-11 p.m. at the Historic Thorpe Building, 1620 Central Ave. NE. It’s free, anyone can come, but you do need a ticket; register online.

Following Hodges’ swearing-in last Thursday, the new mayor began a 10-day “One Minneapolis” tour that included a day devoted to the arts and entertainment. On Saturday, she ran from the Walker to Intermedia Arts to the American Swedish Institute, an interview at KFAI, and HUGE Theater – and learned that her predecessor, R.T. Rybak, had been rushed to Abbott Northwestern Hospital with a “cardiac surprise.” (This Friday’s theme is winter tourism, a hard sell after a week of Arctic temperatures. Here’s hoping Mayor Hodges has a fuzzy hat with earflaps.)

Monday’s inauguration in the Rotunda of Minneapolis City Hall also embraced the arts, with J.D. Steele singing the national anthem, a performance by Ava Szychalski and Sam Durben of the MacPhail Center for Music, and a poem, “Minneapolis: A City in Verse,” written by several area poets and spoken-word artists including Heid Erdrich, Ed Bok Lee, Bao Phi, Brian Beatty and Paul Cisewski.

Rybak, who is recovering from a heart attack (not the misreported “massive heart attack” you might have read about elsewhere) and surgery, was scheduled to be the U of M’s first Headliners speaker for 2014 on Thursday, Jan. 9. That event has been canceled.

Want to feel even colder? MPR’s Marianne Combs reports that Minnesota photographer Alec Soth has been posting photos on the New Yorker’s Instagram feed since New Year’s Eve. Soth’s photos include a scary snowman, a frozen chow mein café, a house with an icy blue porch light, and a snow-encrusted selfie. All of which should help with that winter tourism thing.

Book lovers can boast of several series that bring best-selling, award-winning authors to the Twin Cities and the suburbs each year. Announcing its lineup for spring 2014, Club Book also let us know it has new leadership and a new website. Formerly under the direction of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library, which also runs the Pen Pals and Talk of the Stacks, Club Book is moving east to Library Strategies, the consulting arm of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, whose big annual event is the Minnesota Book Awards. Club Book’s website will now include podcasts of the author presentations. It was due to go live Sunday but wasn’t yet when we checked on Monday, so give it a day or so before visiting. The spring season includes Amy Thielen (“The New Midwestern Table”) on Feb. 3, Minnesota Book Award-winning mystery writer Julie Kramer on Feb. 11, J. Courtney Sullivan (“The Engagements”) on Feb. 13, Elizabeth Berg (“Tapestry of Fortunes”) on Feb. 26, P.S. Duffy (“The Cartographer of No Man’s Land”) on March 11, poet Nikki Giovanni and sports writer Dave Zirin (an interesting combination) on March 19, Brian Freeman (“The Cold Nowhere”) on April 7, Peter Geye and Amy Greene on April 15, and Amanda Coplin (“The Orchardist”) on April 24.

Orion Books
Ian Rankin

Crime-fiction fans, mark your calendars for Saturday, Jan. 25. That’s the day Edinburgh-based author Ian Rankin makes his first trip to Minnesota. Rankin is the Edgar Award-winning, international bestselling author of the Inspector Rebus series, which also became a popular television series produced for Britain’s ITV network. He’ll be at Once Upon a Crime starting at 7 p.m. for a reading and signing of his latest, “Saints of the Shadow Bible.” 7 p.m. at Once Upon a Crime.

Minnesota Opera is on a roll. Following last year’s back-to-back $100,000 grants – one from the Knight Foundation, the other from the Hearts Foundation – it recently received a $40,000 Art Works grant from the NEA. The money will support the Opera’s new production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” opening April 12 at the Ordway. (BTW, that could easily be one of the year’s hottest tickets. Of the nine scheduled performances, several are almost sold out.) Last week, Minnesota Opera released its latest annual report as a video. A retrospective of the 2012-13 season, it’s a look back at a jam-packed and ambitious season that resulted in a deficit of $169,600, the Opera’s first red ink in 10 years. “Despite the disappointment of not ending the season in the black,” president and general director Kevin Ramach said in a statement, “we look back on our 50th anniversary season as a tremendous year – one that led to the 14-year high in subscriptions we are enjoying this season.”

Children’s Theatre Company has also won an NEA Art Works Grant for $75,000 to support the commissioning and production of three new works for young audiences: Ryan Underbakke’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”; “Seedfolks,” a one-actor show based on Paul Fleischman’s book; and a multimedia stage adaptation of “The Arrival,” Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel of the immigrant experience. “The Arrival” is being co-created by Jocelyn Clarke and composer Judd Greenstein, whose crowd-sourced Minnesota Orchestra commission, “Acacia,” returns this year as part of the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra’s self-produced winter-spring season.

Our picks for the week

Wednesday at Bryant Lake Bowl: “Raucous Caucus IV.” Short attention span? Does 10 minutes sound plenty long for a play? Then this is right up your truncated alley. Eight plays, 10 minutes each, on censorship, government intrusion, guns in the classroom, and other topics relevant to today’s political climate. Presented by Box Wine Theatre. FMI and tickets ($12/$10).

Thursday at SubText: Resolved: to write more poetry in 2014. Light a fire under your own aspirations when poet Margaret Hasse (“Earth’s Appetite”) and a writing group she facilitates gather at this St. Paul basement bookstore to read their work, offer tips about poetry and writing prompts, and recommend books they use to improve their writing. Ginger tea and gingersnaps will be served. 7 p.m. Free.

Thursday at the Walker: Resolved: to take more chances on the arts in 2014. There’s no better place to start than the Out There series at the Walker, which begins Thursday with “Hospital” by the Dutch collective Wunderbaum and the Skid Row performance group Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD). Now in its 26th year of slapping us around, Out There features new performances by radical innovators from around the world, scoped out by the Walker’s peripatetic performing arts curator Philip Bither. This year’s artists come from Holland, Japan, France/Germany, and Uruguay. Tonight (Jan. 9) at 8 p.m. through Feb. 1. FMI and tickets ($22-$18). See Graydon Royce’s preview in the Strib.

lapd hospital
Photo by Steve Gunther
The Walker’s “Out There” begins Thursday with “Hospital.”

Friday and Saturday: The Minnesota Chorale and the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. Bring a wad of Kleenex. The piece Mozart was working on when he died (and left unfinished), the Requiem is so sad you’ll cry, so beautiful you’ll cry even harder. It will be good (and moving, sniff sniff) to hear the Chorale and the musicians together again. Former SPCO music director Hugh Wolff conducts; Maria Jette, Adriana Zabala, James Taylor and Philip Zawisza are the soloists. Former concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis will return as concertmaster. The program also includes Beethoven’s “Coriolan” Overture and Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Ted Mann. FMI and tickets ($20/$40/$60).

Plan ahead: Violinist Gidon Kremer and his new string orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, at the Ordway, Saturday, Feb. 8. A group this size is a rarity for the Schubert Club’s International Artist Series. Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Ordway, Sunday, Feb. 9. Ten Thousand Things’ “The Music Man” opens at Open Book, Friday, Feb. 14. We’re dying to see how they’ll handle “76 Trombones.” 

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