SPCO welcomes Kopatchinskaja; ‘Killer Inside’ at Red Eye

Photo by Marco Borggreve
The SPCO is presenting seven “Welcome Patricia Kopatchinskaja” concerts and a special performance for donors.

She’s been called “the most exciting violinist in the world,” she’s one of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s three new artistic partners, and she’s finally here. Starting Thursday with a sold-out event at Temple Israel, the SPCO is presenting seven “Welcome Patricia Kopatchinskaja” concerts and a special performance for donors, all designed to introduce the young Moldovan-Austrian violinist to Twin Cities audiences.

Six interesting things we’ve learned about her so far: 1) She once said that if she hadn’t become a musician, she would like to be a farmer. 2) Both of her parents are musicians. Her mother, Emilia, is a violinist, and her father, Viktor, plays a concert hammered dulcimer called a cimbalom. 3) When Patricia was 13, her family fled Moldova after the end of Communism. They arrived in Vienna with a couple of suitcases and a dog, so poor that she played piano and violin in restaurants. 4) Her violin was made by Giovanni Francesco Pressenda in Turin in 1834. She describes it as “an extension of my soul, of my voice and of my body.” 5) Her repertoire ranges from Baroque to classical, new commissions and reinterpretations of modern masterworks. 6) She plays in a chamber group with the Turkish pianist Fazil Say, someone we’d really like to see here someday, hint hint.

If you have a moment, take a look at this recent (Sept. 13) interview with the Berlin Philharmonic’s Ulrich Knörzer. It’s in German, with subtitles, but Kopatchinskaja is so charming and enthusiastic, her language so expressive, her passion for music so palpable and her laughter so infectious that she wins you right over.

The concert programs include music by Mozart, Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian, Bartók, Mendelssohn, and Schubert, along with a selection of traditional folk music she’ll perform with her parents and the SPCO’s principal bass Zachary Cohen. (She recently recorded Mansurian’s “Four Serious Songs,” the work she’ll perform during her first week.) Tickets are scarce but still available here and here

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Liz Armstrong, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ first-ever curator of contemporary art, is leaving for a new position as director of the Palm Springs Art Museum. She arrived at the MIA in 2008 after serving as acting director and chief curator at the Orange County Museum of Art, a senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and a curator at the Walker Art Center. MIA director and president Kaywin Feldman said in a statement, “I wish Liz all the very best in her new position. … Here at the MIA, Liz created a dynamic department of Contemporary Art and programs that firmly established us in the field.”

Among Armstrong’s exhibitions and installations at the MIA were “More Real: Art in the Age of Truthiness,” “Sacred,” and the current  “Nature of Nature.” Her acquisitions included works by Cindy Sherman, Robert Rauschenberg, Siah Armajani, Do Ho Suh and Jennifer Steinkamp. She mixed things up at the museum, inserting contemporary objects into traditional exhibitions, making us see both differently. Armstrong leaves for warmer climes at the end of November.

Earlier this year, Joe Horse Capture, the MIA’s associate curator of Native American art, left to take a job at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Horse Capture had been at the MIA since 1997. The museum will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2015.

Kevin Smith’s move last week from interim to official president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra was met with praise and cheers last week. During his appearance on TPT’s “Almanac” Friday evening, talk turned to Music Director Osmo Vänskä’s contract, which expires next year. Will it be extended? “We are talking about that,” Smith said. “I would hope and expect yes.” That may be the understatement of the year.

What? Already? The 22nd Minnesota Fringe Festival is now accepting applications. A record 476 applications were received last year; the line-up of 175 shows was decided by random lottery, as it always is. Fringe is making more room on its 2015 schedule for site-specific shows. “[They] added a whole new dimension to the festival last year,” Fringe executive director Jeff Larson said in a statement. “So we have a real interest in continuing and expanding that program. Last year we capped the number of site-specific shows at five. This year we’re allowing up to 10.” Fringe takes place from July 30 to Aug. 9. The application deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13. Go here for the application and instructions. There’s a $25 nonrefundable application fee.

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“Killer Inside,” Sandbox Theatre’s latest production, is a musical set inside a maximum security prison full of murderers. How wrong could that go? Terribly, except it doesn’t.

All the parts and pieces of this ensemble-created work – the original songs and live music, the costumes, the lighting, the simple sets (moveable squares and pillars, seating, a scrim), and the movement – come together in a 90-minute production that grips you like a pair of handcuffs. These are bad people who have done bad things, locked up together in a bad place, watched over by others who are delusional, embittered and resigned. Pittsville Penitentiary is alive, growing new wings through the years to add more inmates: a mother who killed her children, a father who killed an abuser, a son who killed his adoptive parents, two women who went on a spree. Each company member plays multiple characters, but it’s Derek Meyer we can’t forget – not for the crime his character has committed, but because of his rage-filled, ferocious and terrifying tap dance.

Evie Digirolamo and Kristina Fjellman from "Killer Inside."
Photo by Matthew Glover
Evie Digirolamo and Kristina Fjellman from “Killer Inside.”

“Killer Inside” is serious, dark and grim. It is also sometimes beautiful, with aching harmonies and dances that hint at redemption, whatever form it might take. The idea came from an interest in murder ballads. Everything starts somewhere, but that seems like a first. This is theater you can’t take your eyes off of, you can’t listen to hard enough, and when it’s over, you’re a bit stunned by the whole thing – the audacity and the power. You have three more chances to see it: Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 20-22 at the Red Eye Theater. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20). Don’t bring the kids.

The Picks

Tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 18) at the Minneapolis Central Library: Talk of the Stacks with Michael Bazzett. A Carleton grad who teaches at the Blake School, Bazzett won the 2014 Linquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and a contract with Milkweed Editions to publish his forthcoming collection, “You Must Remember This.” Prize judge Kevin Prufer will join him onstage for an evening of poetry and literary conversation. Doors at 6:15, program at 7. Free and open to the public.

Wednesday at the University of St. Thomas: The Arpeggione Duo. Guitarist Christopher Kachian and cellist Thomas Schönberg play music by Bach, Faure, Ravel and Gagnon, plus several new works they have commissioned. 7 p.m. At the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center. Free.

Thursday at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Third Thursday, Italian Style. The fun includes free admission to “Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945,” a fashion show, expert help creating your own Italian Style-inspired designs, music, and Italian lessons with the Italian Cultural Center. 6-9 p.m. Free.

Thursday at Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts: An Intimate Evening with Broadway Legend Tommy Tune. The Lundstrum Center in North Minneapolis is a community school for the arts that teaches musical theater technique. Tommy Tune is an actor, singer, dancer, choreographer and nine-time Tony winner. He’ll spend the day at Lundstrum mentoring students and community members. From 4 p.m. to 5:30, you can stop by and see him for free during what’s being called a “community mentorship moment.” Starting at 6:30 p.m., “An Intimate Evening with Tommy Tune” will feature live music and performances by Lundstrum Center students and alumni, an inspiring conversation with Tommy Tune, and a special surprise with Tommy and kids. Tickets from $125 ($75 tax-deductible).

The Weekend

Thursday through Sunday at the Ted Mann: University Opera Theatre presents George Bizet’s “La tragédie de Carmen.” Bizet’s original “Carmen” is one of our best-loved operas. It’s also four acts long. Peter Brook’s 1983 adaptation pares it down to 90 minutes, keeping the most essential parts and much of its music. 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Correction: An earlier version of this column included reference to an out-of-date event. It has been removed.

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