U of M writers series to feature Rankine-Robinson chat; Bike Night at Mia

Photo by John Lucas
Claudia Rankine

Hoping to build understanding at a time when it’s sorely needed, many individuals and groups have compiled reading lists, sometimes called Black Lives Matter reading lists and sometimes not. One title that appears on every list we’ve seen is Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric,” published by Graywolf in 2014. Rankine was set to appear in the most recent NOMMO African American Authors Series but had to cancel twice. Let’s hope her third scheduled date in the Twin Cities – Oct. 19 at Ted Mann Concert Hall – is the charm.

Rankine has been booked for the Fall UMN English Writers Series, announced this week by the Department of English. But she won’t be here alone. She’ll be in conversation with novelist Marilynne Robinson, and we can’t imagine a chat we’d rather listen in on. Two great writers, two profound thinkers, with many prizes, honors, awards, and medals between them. This is a big deal, it’s free and we should all go. Mark your calendar now for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Also on this always excellent, open-to-the-public series: Sept. 28: Korean-American novelist and short story writer Nami Mun, whose first novel focuses on a Korean immigrant teenager who becomes homeless in the Bronx of the 1980s. Oct. 5: Poet Simone Muench, whose latest, “Wolf Centos,” uses a poetic form in which all the language is taken from poems by other poets. The literary equivalent of sampling? Nov. 9: Fiction and nonfiction writer Mark Slouka, who will probably read from his memoir, “Nobody’s Son,” since it comes out in October.

All events but the Rankine-Sullivan talk will take place in the Weisman Art Museum with 7 p.m. start times. 

Zeitgeist announces 2016-17 season

Founded at Macalester College in 1977, St. Paul’s Zeitgeist is one of the longest-established new music groups in the U.S. The current configuration – two percussion, woodwinds and piano – also makes it one of the most unique in terms of sound. Deeply committed to the music of our time, the group has commissioned and/or premiered many new works by composers including John Cage, Terry Riley, Harold Budd and Mary Ellen Childs.

The new season begins Sept. 8-10 with the release of Zeitgeist’s latest recording, “For the Birds,” a combination of musical performance, songs and storytelling with humorist Kevin Kling and composer Victor Zupanc. Oct. 6-8 brings the St. Paul Food Opera, a Knight Arts Challenge winner where new music by composer Ben Houge will be paired with dishes prepared by St. Paul chefs. (We attended a “first taste” preview earlier this year and it was fascinating. Maybe some of the super-noisy restaurants – you know who you are – would like to try something like this.) From Nov. 10-13, Zeitgeist will join forces with Cleveland-based new music ensemble NO EXIT to perform music by Minnesota and Ohio composers.

Feb. 17-18 is Zeitgeist’s annual “Playing It Close to Home” concert, with winning songs from the group’s Eric Stokes Song Contest (an amateur competition) and music by Childs. April 6-9 is its Early Music Festival, this time spotlighting composer Lou Harrison. The season ends May 4-6, when Zeitgeist teams up with Twin Cities composer collective Spitting Image to present new commissions by Katherine Bergman, Joshua Clausen and Daniel Ness and reprise Cambodian American composer Chinary Ung’s “Spiral XIV ‘Nimitta,’ ” a 2012 Zeitgeist commission.

All events will take place in Zeitgeist’s own Studio Z performance space, an intimate listening room in Lowertown. FMI and tickets (prices vary).

Lang Lang in Winona in 2017

Way to be on top of things. Having just wrapped its 10th season, Winona’s Minnesota Beethoven Festival announced its 2017 lineup and headliner: the celebrated (and celebrity) Chinese pianist Lang Lang. He’ll play the final concert on July 26 (remember, we’re talking 2017), preceded by the Minnesota Orchestra, Dale Warland and Festival Chorale, Anderson & Roe, Boston Brass and other artists, many making their festival debuts. Here’s the lineup and schedule for the monthlong festival. Details to come on ticket sale dates, packages and pricing.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, July 21) at Mia: Third Thursday: Bike Night. It’s the one night a year when you can pedal your bike through the museum’s doors. Once inside, check out the hand-painted art bikes, play Bike Night Bingo for a chance to win a new Surly bike (!), look at Finnish bicycles, enjoy live music, have a beer, get a free bike check and enjoy more Third Thursday goings-on. 6-9 p.m. FMI. Free. Note: We mistakenly included this in last week’s Artscape but it’s really happening tonight. Sorry about that.

Tonight at Common Good Books: Peter Geye reads from his new novel, “Wintering.” The latest from the award-winning Minneapolis-based author is a love story spanning sixty years of feuds, secrets, and family history set along Minnesota’s northern border. Geye is also the author of “Safe from the Sea” and “The Lighthouse Road.” 7 p.m. Free.

Friday and Saturday at the American Swedish Institute: “Cow Calls in Dalarna.” Bart Sutter’s play about the lost world of Sweden’s summer pasture camps sold out in Duluth. Long ago and far away, the women of Sweden’s Dalarna region spent their summers in the forested hills above Lake Silijan, caring for their cows, making cheese and butter to sustain their communities during the winter. Sutter’s grandfather was raised in Dalarna, and Sutter has traveled there often. The reader’s theater play is a blend of cow calls and music, stories, poetry and folk wisdom. Something you won’t see or hear every day, for sure. The program opens with fiddle music by Vikarbyns Lilla Spelmanslag, a young adult group from the Lake Silijan area, performing in folk dress. 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday. FMI and tickets ($15/$20, $5 for ages 6-18).

Photo by Bruce Silcoxx
Little Mekong Night Market

Saturday and Sunday: Little Mekong Night Market. The Asian-inspired, open-late outdoor market in St. Paul returns for its third year with more space, more food, more vendors and new arts programming. A kids’ activity zone will include an interactive exhibit from the Minnesota Children’s Museum. An artwalk zone will include “MANIFEST: Refugee Roots,” an arts and cultural exhibit highlighting refugee narratives in Minnesota, with local artists and cultural groups. (That happens indoors, in the community hall of the newly-opened Western U Plaza.) Three outdoor stages will feature performances by Hmong Breakers Leadership Council, Mu Daiko, Jayanthi Kyle, Mayda, Ananya Dance (on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.) and more. At Western and University avenues off the Western Green Line stop. Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 5-10 p.m. Free.

Sunday at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina: Free concert by The Musical Offering. Before announcing its 46th (!) season, the classical music ensemble will give us a taste of what they do: perform music they love with passion and excellence. The hourlong program will feature the wind quintet and French favorites. No ticket needed, just show up at the bandshell. 2 p.m.

Monday at Augustana Lutheran Church: François Rabbath. Whether he’s playing Bach, jazz or his original compositions, live performances by the great bassist and teacher are filled with love, generosity and almost unbearable beauty. If this all sounds a bit hyperbolic, we humbly suggest that’s because you haven’t yet heard him, and maybe you’ll want to take this opportunity. Everyone thought (and Rabbath said) that last year would be his final appearance here; he lives in France, he’s 85 years old and travel is tiring. But he’s back again, teaching at the Twin Cities Bass Camp and giving just one public concert, with new music written with his son and accompanist Sylvain and arranged for Rabbath with strings and drums. 7 p.m. FMI. $25 suggested donation at the door. Here’s more about Rabbath, a remarkable man and artist.

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