2 new players for SPCO; Robert Randolph & Family Band at zoo’s amphitheater

Hyobi Sim

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra today announced two new permanent members of the orchestra. Joining in time for the 2015-16 season, which starts Saturday, Sept. 12, are violist Hyobi Sim and oboist Barbara Bishop. Both were awarded permanent positions by an audition committee made up of musicians.

Sim, who graduated from Curtis and earned her master’s degree from Juilliard, came to the SPCO’s attention during a recruiting trip in New York City in fall 2013. An active chamber musician, she was a member of the Curtis on Tour ensemble and has performed with a number of respected musicians including SPCO artistic partner Jeremy Denk.

Bishop was a guest musician during the SPCO’s 2014-15 season, on leave from her position as associate principal oboe with the Kansas City Symphony. Her degrees are from the Eastman School and the University of Minnesota. Previously Bishop was principal oboist with the Baton Rouge Symphony, Alexander Schneider’s New York String Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.

The new Ordway Concert Hall was built faster than the SPCO is being rebuilt after the 191-day lockout of its musicians ended in April 2013. The contract ratified at that time cut the orchestra’s size from 34 to 28. Musicians 55 and older were offered a buyout, and 10 took it, leaving just 19 permanent members for the 2013-14 season. During the summer of 2014, two more musicians left, and then there were 17.

Barbara Bishop

Rebuilding has been a slow and deliberate process. In September 2014, Julie Albers was named principal cellist, bringing the number to 18. In January 2015, Zachary Cohen was named principal bass and upped it to 19. Sim and Bishop make 21.

In a statement praising the two newest members, SPCO principal second violinist and senior director of artistic planning Kyu-Young Kim explained, “Because of the small intimate nature of our ensemble, it is even more crucial that each and every member can step up with a solo line, blend harmoniously into the section, play chamber music on the highest level, and inspire their colleagues.”

Albers, Cohen and Bishop were all guest musicians for an entire season before being offered permanent positions. Five guest musicians have signed on for 2015-16: violinists Sarah Grimes, Kayla Moffett and Maureen Nelson, violist Shuangshuang Liu and clarinetist Jonathan Cohen. Maybe 22 and 23 will come out of this group.


MPR has announced the first part of the 21st season of its Broadcast Journalist Series, which brings notable journalists and correspondents here from far-flung places for public conversations.

On Oct. 19, Tom Weber will host Reuters Middle East editor Samia Nakhoul, who has reported from the Middle East for almost 30 years, winning multiple awards, covering the civil war in her native Lebanon, the Gulf War, the first Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, Arab uprisings, the Syrian civil war, and the fall of Mosul, among many other stories. While reporting from Baghdad during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, she was severely wounded by an American tank shell and required brain surgery.

On Nov. 2, Weber will speak with Kat Chow, a digital journalist who covers race, ethnicity and culture for NPR’s new Code Switch team.

Tickets are free but reservations are required. Both events are at 7 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center at the University of St. Thomas. Two more Broadcast Journalist guests will be announced later.

Headliners, the U of M’s current event series, has announced the first three speakers and dates in its 2015-16 season, with the remaining four to come later.

Oct. 8: Elizabeth J. Wilson, a leading researcher in energy and environmental policy and law, associate professor at the Humphrey School and a member of the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, will speak on “Energy Evolution: Shaping the Future of Electricity.” Nov. 5: Lucy Dunn, director of the U’s Apparel Design program and Wearable Technology Lab, will present “Stronger, Faster, Brighter: Wearable Techology and the Future of Clothing.”  Dec. 3: Bin He, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the U’s Director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine, will talk about “Mapping and Interfacing with the Human Brain.”

All events take place Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul campus. Individual tickets $20, series pass (all seven) $80. Register here.


Courtesy of Blue Note Records
Robert Randolph and the Family Band

Some kids have already started school (whose heartless, diabolical idea was that?), the State Fair opens Thursday and this year’s Music in the Zoo series of outdoor concerts in the Weesner Family Amphitheater  is winding down. Just one concert remains, and it’s a good one: Robert Randolph and the Family Band next Thursday, Sept. 3. Lead vocalist and guitarist Randolph is a master of the pedal steel guitar, the one on legs that looks more like a keyboard. We’ve heard this group live and get goosebumps just thinking about it. Here’s a decent video from a performance in Ontario this month, a taste of what to expect in Apple Valley. End the summer with a joyful noise. FMI and tickets ($39/$51.50).

The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, Aug, 25) at Subtext Books: Linda Legarde Grover presents “The Road Back to Sweetgrass.” Associate professor of American Indian studies at UMD, a member of the Bois Forte band of Ojibwe, Grover won the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award for her debut novel, a story of love, hardship, and family bonds set on the fictional Mozhay Point reservation in northern Minnesota. 7 p.m. Free.

Now at the Minnesota History Center: “We Are Hmong Minnesota.” The first Hmong family to resettle in Minnesota arrived in Nov. 1975, following the war in Southeast Asia. Today more than 66,000 Hmong live in Minnesota, most in or near the Twin Cities – the largest concentration of Hmong in America. Conceived by researcher and writer Noah Vang, “Hmong Today” editor Wameng Moua, and Lee Pao Xiong, director of the Center for Hmong Studies and Concordia University professor of history, developed in partnership with the Hmong community, this exhibit showcases Hmong culture and contributions to Minnesota and the nation over the past 40 years. Originally scheduled to close Nov. 19, it has been extended through Jan. 3. FMI. Hours and admission ($11 adults) here.

Thursday at the Heights: “Casablanca.” There’s probably no better place in the Twin Cities to watch this iconic World War II movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid. Far from a gin joint, the Heights was built in 1928 in the Beaux Arts style, mangled over the decades, and restored to its original glory. Here’s looking at you, Heights. 7:30 p.m. Tickets here (all seats $8)

Friday at the Third Place Gallery: Take Love Easy: A Tribute to Ella and Joe. Inspired by the musical chemistry between Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass (and their recordings for the Pablo label in the 1970s), vocalist Charmin Michelle and guitarist Sam Miltich have collaborated on an evening of songs borrowed from Ella and Joe augmented by other standards of their choosing. Performing as a duo, without the safety net of a traditional rhythm section, they’re freed and challenged, exposed and on the line. Since both are terrific musicians, this should be an extraordinary evening in a notable setting: Wing Young Huie’s community-focused meeting space on Chicago Ave. 7 p.m. $15 suggested donation at the door. RSVP on Facebook.

Saturday at the Brave New Workshop ETC: Throwing Shade. Emmy winner Bryan Safi is “homosensual,” Erin Gibson is “feminasty.” Cohosts of the hit weekly comedy podcast “Throwing Shade,” where topics include women’s rights, gay rights, pop culture, adult topics and politically incorrect ideas, they’ve taken their show on the road and will touch down in Minneapolis on Saturday for a live podcast recording. “Throwing Shade” is one of Rolling Stone’s 20 Best Comedy Podcasts. Here’s last week’s edition. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30. FMI and tickets ($22). 

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