Each year, the Sally Ordway Irvine Awards – Sallies, for short – honor Minnesotans who have helped make this such a great state for the arts. Based on the First Trust Award given in 1986 to Sally Ordway Irvine, whose vision, initiative and commitment (and generous donations) led to the creation of the Ordway, they are all over the (state) map, not just about the cities. They go to big names and not-so-big names. Last year, bluesman James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr. won a Sally for a lifetime of singing and playing piano in pool halls, bars, theaters and cafés.
Now in their 23rd year, the Sallies were originally given in three categories: Vision, Initiative, and Commitment. A fourth category, Education, was added in 1996, and a fifth, Arts Access, in 2010. This year’s winners were announced last night in a public ceremony at the Ordway.
The Arts Access Award went to Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork, which presents contemporary performing and visual art, hosts artists’ residencies and showcases work by Native American artists in a town of 400 people. Outgoing Jerome Foundation president Cynthia Gehrig received the Commitment Award; she has been the grant-making organization’s chief since 1978.
The Steeles – siblings J.D., Fred, Jearlyn, Jevetta and Billy – won the Education Award for living their mission: “to educate and inspire young people through Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Pop, R&B and the Classics with the intent to encourage students to pursue a higher education or profession in the arts and entertainment industry.” Sing it, Steeles. Theresa Sweetland took home the Initiative Award. Former executive/artistic director of Intermedia Arts, which she served for 17 years, Sweetland recently became director of development and external relations at the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
Finally, the Vision Award was presented to the American Composers Forum, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday. Through its programs and educational initiatives, ACF nurtures composers’ creativity and works to create a wider appreciation for composers as living artists. It also has its own amazing record label, Innova.
The O’Shaughnessy’s 2015-16 season, announced Friday, spreads 13 diverse and intriguing events – music, dance and theater – over eight months starting in September. We’ll point out a selection that made us go “Wow!” then send you to the website to learn about the rest.
Sept. 18-19: Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine. The season kicks off with the world premiere of a collaboration among choreographer Ananya Chatterjea, visual artist Seitu Jones and behavioral artist Marcus Young, who has been filling St. Paul’s sidewalks with poetry. Performed by Ananya Dance Theatre, it reflects and honors women who work to create a just and sustainable food system.
Oct. 25: Arlo Guthrie. You can get anything you want at O’Shaughnessy this year. On the 50th anniversary of the event that inspired his song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” Woody Guthrie’s son gives a rare live performance that also includes other favorites from his catalog (dare we hope for “Coming into Los Angel-eeze?”) and a multimedia presentation. Carrying on the family tradition, Arlo’s son Abe plays keyboards in the band. Co-presented with the Dakota.
Feb. 4, 2016: Women of Will. Tina Packer – actor, dramaturge, teacher and founding director of Shakespeare & Company, one of the nation’s largest Shakespeare festivals – deconstructs and conjures the Bard’s most famous female characters. Actor Nigel Gore is the Romeo to her Juliet, the Petruchio to her Kate. This touring show has been winning raves.
Feb. 20: A Night in Ancient and New China. Wu Man, a virtuoso on the pipa (loosely, Chinese lute), and the Shanghai Quartet perform traditional Chinese folk songs and a new multimedia work by Zhao Jiping, composer of scores for films including “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Farewell My Concubine.”
April 15: Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble: “The Soul’s Messenger.” Co-presented with the Walker, an evening with Monk is not for the faint of heart. If you’re open to originality and surprise, and you want to know why so many deeply interesting artists – Björk, Missy Mazzoli, Merce Cunningham, Theo Bleckmann, John Hollenbeck – have found Monk inspiring, here’s your chance. Learn a bit about her ahead of time; there’s a lot of Monk on YouTube.
The season also includes nights with “America’s Got Talent” contestants Rhythmic Circus, Katha Dance Theatre, dancer-choreographer-performing artist Maureen Fleming, TU Dance, Katie McMahon (her traditional O’Shaughnessy Christmas show), Contempo Physical Dance, guitarist Shaun Hopper, and three singer-songwriters on the same stage: Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anaïs Mitchell. Here are the deets. Tickets go on sale at noon on Thursday, June 25.
Tonight on the Cabooze Outdoor Plaza: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Tickets are still available to a raucous night with NOLA native Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and his band. With guests Willie Murphy and the Angel Headed Hipsters and Jack Brass Band. Doors 5:30 p.m., music 6:30, all ages. FMI and tickets ($35). General admission, standing show.
Three nights in a row from Fathom Events, whose live digital broadcast network beams good stuff to theaters near us, usually with fun extras. (It’s how we saw “Inside Out” last Tuesday instead of waiting until Friday.) For each, click on the link and enter your ZIP code to find the theater nearest you.
• Tonight (Tuesday, June 23): Exhibition on Screen: “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Other Treasures from the Mauritshuis in the Hague. If seeing “Woman Reading a Letter” at the MIA whetted your appetite for more Vermeer, you’ll enjoy this armchair tour and get closer than you ever would in person. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.
• Wednesday: TCM Presents: “Jaws” 40th Anniversary. The first summer blockbuster launched Stephen Spielberg’s career, a catch phrase (“Stay out of the water!”) and a title theme instantly recognizable from the first two notes (Dah-dum!). Don’t you want to see it on a really big screen, with an introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz? 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.
• Thursday: National Theatre Live: “The Audience” with Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II. Mirren was totally convincing as HRH in the 2006 film “The Queen.” She’s now on Broadway in Peter Morgan’s new play about the Queen’s weekly meetings with different prime ministers over the course of 60 years. Includes a Q&A with Mirren and director Stephen Daldry. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.
The weekend and then some
Monday, June 29, at the Illusion: Works in progress by Austene Van and Sally Wingert. Van and Wingert, known to Twin Cities audiences for their great performances on stage (Van most recently, and indelibly, in Penumbra’s “Detroit ’67,” Wingert in Park Square’s “Shooting Star”), are both 2014-15 McKnight Theater Artist Fellows working on brand-new things. Van is developing a musical about Josephine Baker, “Once Upon a Time,” with Peter Rothstein and Sanford Moore; Wingert is collaborating with the St. Paul theater group Transatlantic Love Affair on “Emilie/Eurydice,” which draws from the myths of Eurydice and Demeter and the Radiolab episode “Finding Emilie” to explore themes of nether worlds, ambiguous loss and life on pause. 7 p.m. Free, but reservations are recommended.
For your Fourth of July weekend listening, viewing and noshing pleasure: Celebrate Cuba! with Coro Entrevoces and the Minnesota Orchestra. The Minnesota Orchestra played two historic concerts in Cuba in May. Returning the favor, Cuba’s 20-voice choir Coro Entrovoces will perform here with the orchestra in a program of music from both cultures (Gershwin, Lecuona, Bernstein, Marquez). Orchestra members will share stories about their visit; new video from their time in Cuba will screen. Pre- and post-concert events include “Music Up Close” in the atrium, food from Victor’s 1959 Café and photo displays in the lobby. Sunday, July 5, 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-$55).