Sean Lennon, Babes in Toyland in Rock the Garden lineup

When the weather obliges, our annual Rock the Garden is a beautiful music festival, adjacent to the iconic Walker Art Center, overlooking the Sculpture Garden, with views across Loring Park to the Minneapolis skyline. Even when the weather doesn’t oblige, it turns into a party in the underground parking garage. Each year, thousands of fans can’t wait to learn the lineup of what’s now a two-day festival of influential and beloved bands. Many marked their calendars long ago for this year’s dates: Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21.

Announced Tuesday, the 2015 lineup includes local rap and R&B group thestand4rd, indie rocker Conor Oberst, Sean Lennon (John’s son) and his group (with girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl) the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tyger, Seun Kuti (Fela’s son) and his group Egypt 80, the highly anticipated hometown reunion of punk pioneers Babes in Toyland, and indie icons Modest Mouse. Discounted tickets are on sale today (as of 11 a.m.) to members of the Walker and/or The Current, who have co-presented the festival since 2008. Any remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public next Tuesday, March 17, at 11 a.m. View the full lineup and ticketing details here or here. Two-day passes $100/$112, single day admission $59/$64, VIP $100-$350.

Piano soloists, a Puccini opera and a distinctive Latin flavor are featured in this year’s Sommerfest, a Minnesota Orchestra tradition for more than 30 years. The nearly monthlong festival begins Sunday, July 5, with “Celebrate Cuba!” and a guest appearance by the 23-voice Cuban choir Coro Entrevoces. (By then, the orchestra will have returned from its own May concerts in Havana.) Cuban-born, Minneapolis-based pianist Nachito Herrera will perform Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” that day. Italian pianist Alessio Bax will make his Minnesota Orchestra debut in two concerts, July 17 and 18, performing works by Rachmaninoff and de Falla. Maestro Andrew Litton, now in his 12th year as Sommerfest’s artistic director, will pull up the piano bench on July 31 for Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. On July 9 and 10, while the classic film “Singin’ in the Rain” is shown in full, Sarah Hicks will lead the orchestra in a live performance of the score. No worries; we’ll still hear the Viennese waltzes we’ve come to expect (July 24 and 26), plus music by Brahms, Schubert, Rossini and Mozart. The Aug. 1 finale is a concert performance of “Madame Butterfly,” with soprano Kelly Kaduce as Cio-Cio-San.

The 40-voice choral ensemble The Singers has announced its 2015-16 season, the 12th under founding artistic director and conductor Matthew Culloton. Oct. 24, 25: Leonard Bernstein: Chichester Psalms. Dec. 6, 12, 13: What Sweeter Music: Christmas with The Singers. March 12, 13: My Soul’s Repose, the Minnesota premiere of a new work for chorus and string quartet by Minneapolis-based composer Jake Runestad. March 18: Community Sing: Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. April 1: Composer’s Lab: Bringing a Score to Life, with five new choral works. May 21, 22: Robert Shaw; A Centennial Celebration. Season tickets go on sale in May, singles in August. FMI.

Originally scheduled for two nights at the Dakota in February, the Chris Potter Quartet couldn’t make it out of New York’s bad weather. The band has been rescheduled for one night, April 2. Call the box office at 612-332-5299 if you hold earlier tickets or want tickets ($20/$15) to the new date. FMI.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, March 12) at the Walker: Spotlight Talks with Twin Cities Artists. Four prominent artists whose works are currently on view in the exhibitions “Art at the Center: 75 years of Walker Collections” and “75 Gifts for 75 Years” will be in the house for 15-minute gallery talks. You can stay put in the Burnet Gallery for the first three, then move to the Target Gallery for the fourth. 6:30 p.m.: Ruben Nusz. 7 p.m.: Chris Larson. 7:30 p.m.: Scott Nedrelow. 8 p.m.: Harriet Bart. FMI. Free (and you don’t even have to pay museum admission on Thursday nights).

Tonight at the Cowles: Cantus: “The Singing Revolution.” One of Cantus’ most popular and powerful programs returns for five performances starting tonight at the Cowles, then moving to the new Ordway Concert Hall, Colonial Church of Edina, Trinity Lutheran in Stillwater and Saint Bartholomew in Wayzata. Songs and stories tell of how the citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuana staged a peaceful and tuneful revolution against Communist rule in the late 1980s, eventually winning their freedom. 7:30 p.m. tonight; other times at other venues. FMI and tickets for all concerts here ($10-$40). Through March 22.

Tonight at the Orpheum: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The big Broadway musical based on the Oscar-winning animated film is back in town. The crowd, including lots of little girls in princess dresses, is part of the fun. We thought Act I dragged its hairy foot a bit, but we were perfectly happy to be caught up in the magic of the love story and the sheer spectacle, which includes glittery streamers being fired out into the crowd. We heard superb singing from Jillian Butterfield as Belle, Ryan Everett Wood as the Beast, Emily Jewell as Mrs. Potts and Kelly Teal Goyette as Madame de la Grande Bouche and loved tall, saucy Patrick Pevehouse as Lumière. Whichever boy played Chip on opening night (either Ross Nemeth or Logan Jeremy Sejas) turned in a winning performance despite spending most of the show in a teacart. FMI and tickets ($29-$134). Ends Sunday, March 15.

The weekend

Friday through Sunday at the Illusion Theater: “Thurgood.” James Craven stars in the one-man play based on the life of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who changed our nation by his brilliant use of the law. It’s not a great play – the premise is a lecture by Justice Marshall at Howard University in his later years, at which we’re his audience, during which he looks back on his life – but Craven is his usual excellent self, and every one of us should know a lot more about Justice Marshall than we do. “Thurgood” is a good start. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12-$35). Ends Sunday, March 15. Read our interview with Craven here.

Saturday at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church (St. Paul), Sunday at Central Lutheran Church (Winona): The Passion According to St. John. Led by Paul Boehnke, the Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra perform what Boehnke calls “arguably Bach’s most vivid and hair-raising work.” (You can read the rest of his program notes here.) With William Hite as the evangelist and Aaron Larson as Jesus. Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Come an hour early for a pre-concert talk with Boehnke. FMI and tickets ($25/$20/$10).

Plan ahead

The great-grandchildren of the Captain and Maria, the von Trapps – Portland-based siblings Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August, all in their 20s (August just barely) – have carved out their own music career, traveling the world, performing with Pink Martini and symphony orchestras, recording with artists like Wayne Newton and Rufus Wainwright, appearing on “Oprah.” Their harmonic folk-pop sound is a bit Beach boys, a bit Sufjan Stevens and a bit Mamas & Papas, plus they can sing in 10 languages. The title track of their first EP, “Dancing in Gold,” is bouncy and sweet like a spoonful of sugar. Here’s the single. They’re at the Amsterdam on April 1. Tickets here ($25/$20/$10).

Courtesy of the von Trapps
The great-grandchildren of the Captain and Maria, the von Trapps – Portland-based siblings Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August, all in their 20s (August just barely) – have carved out their own music career

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