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Children's Theatre to receive Building Bridges grant; Minnesota State Band concerts

Courtesy of the Children’s Theatre Company
CTC’s Neighborhood Bridges program builds literacy, empathy and connections.

Most of us know the Children’s Theatre Company for its plays and musicals. (Wasn’t “Cinderella” terrific? What about those Sneetches? Who else is excited for “A Year with Frog and Toad,” coming soon?) But there’s more to CTC than theater. Since 1997, its Neighborhood Bridges program, founded by artistic director Peter Brosius and U of M professor Jack Zipes, has been helping children in Twin Cities classrooms develop literacy skills, become storytellers of their own lives, think independently and work collectively.

In a time when anti-Muslim bias is rising – according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016 saw a 197 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate groups, and anti-Muslim hate crimes surged in Minnesota – CTC wants to expand its Neighborhood Bridges program to reflect stories of young Muslims living in the Twin Cities. And it’s getting help from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts (DDFIA) Building Bridges Program.

Announced Thursday, CTC will receive $180,000 from Building Bridges to promote greater cultural understanding of Muslim immigrants to third- through sixth-graders in 24 public schools through study and discussion of stories about Muslim high school students. CTC is one of 11 organizations nationwide that will receive Building Bridges money for arts and culture projects that build empathy and connections between American Muslim and non-Muslim communities. “Arts and culture are among the most powerful forces to remind us that we are more alike than different,” DDFIA program officer Zeyba Rahman said in a statement.

In 2016, another big Building Bridges grant ($300,000) went to the Cedar Cultural Center to help fund its Midnimo (Somali for “unity”) program, which brings Somali artists from around the world to Minnesota for concerts, workshops and activities.

Lakes Area Musical Festival lineup announced

From July 30 through August 20, Brainerd will be a classical music hot spot, a magnet for musicians and music lovers. Six classical concerts and an opera – Bizet’s “Carmen” – will be performed at Tornstrom Auditorium, and all are free.

Founded in summer 2009 by Scott Lykins, the Lakes Area Musical Festival (LAMF) has steadily grown ever since, adding a day camp for kids, open rehearsals, outreach activities and year-round events including concerts in the Twin Cities. Its 9th annual season, announced this week, will feature some 130 musicians including members of the Minnesota Orchestra, SPCO, Milwaukee Symphony, New World Symphony and other ensembles from around the world.

Cities folk might want to plan their trips north to catch one or several of this summer’s offerings. The opening Community Concert on July 30 will feature area musicians. On Aug. 2, “In a Distant Land” will introduce the season’s theme with a vocal recital by baritone John Taylor Ward of music by Schumann, Crumb and Ives. “L’exotique” on Aug. 9 will feature young harpist Emily Levin of the Dallas Symphony and music by Ravel, Debussy, Caplet, Poulenc and Milhaud.

Courtesy of the Lakes Area Music Festival
Harpist Emily Levin

Mezzo-soprano Carolyn Sproule, a frequent performer with the Metropolitan Opera, will sing the title role in “Carmen” in two performances, Aug. 12 and 13, that will also include many familiar faces (and voices) from the Minnesota Opera. “British Isles” on Aug. 16 will include Haydn’s “Oxford” symphony, Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” symphony and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending,” with Minnesota Orchestra violinist Jonathan Magness. A full symphonic orchestra led by the San Francisco Symphony’s Christian Reif will close the festival on Aug. 19 and 20 with Concerto for Orchestra and music by Dvorak and Bartok.

FMI. Again, no tickets, no reservations, no registration. Just show up.

Poetry prize semifinalists named

Milkweed Editions has announced the six finalists for the 2017 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, now in its sixth year. More than 200 manuscripts were submitted for one of the nation’s largest annual regional literary prizes, which carries a $10,000 cash award and a publishing contract for the winner. Entrants must reside in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Poets Caitlin Bailey, Patrick Johnson, Soham Patel, Paige Riehl, Michael Torres and Angela Voras-Hills are this year’s finalists, and all will be featured at Milkweed’s annual National Poetry Party on Thursday, April 13. At 5:30 p.m., poets and poetry fans will gather in the Milkweed Editions office suite for poetry-themed drinks and hors d’oeuvres. At 7 p.m., the party will continue with a reading by the finalists in the Target Performance Hall.

The six finalists’ manuscripts will now go to poet and judge Srikanth Reddy, and the winner will be announced on April 19.

Previous winners are Jennifer Willoughby, Michael Bazzett, Rebecca Dunham, Patricia Kirkpatrick and Chris Santiago, whose book, “Tula,” was published by Milkweed in December.

The picks

Tonight (Friday, March 31) and Saturday: The Minnesota State Band. Earlier this month, Briana Bierschbach wrote an article about the “last band standing” – the only state band left in the nation. It’s an excellent read, if you missed it, and this is the band she wrote about: a 118-year-old organization that once drew huge crowds and is now largely unknown. Tonight they’ll play their spring concert at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ at 7:30 p.m., and tomorrow they’ll do the same at the Litchfield Opera House at 4 p.m. FMI; scroll down to Upcoming Events and click either Spring Concert link. Free and open to the public. Donations accepted.

Saturday at Burroughs Community School: 60 on 50th. A smartly curated, quality art fair with lots of variety, good prices and nice people. Part of the fun of shopping for handmade pots, jewelry, paintings, purses, glass, wood, or wearables is meeting and talking with the artists, and this is a friendly bunch. The show is not too big, not too small, but just right, spread out through the school’s first-floor entry hall and gym. 1601 W. 50th St. in south Minneapolis. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free admission.

Saturday at the Convention Center: Minnesota Craft Beer Festival. More than 220 beers from 80+ breweries, limited-release beers, unlimited 3-oz. sample pours, live music, and snacks so you don’t get too silly or stupid, plus all proceeds benefit Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. A good time for a good cause. Beer names we love: Buzzed Aldrin from Cosmos Brewing. Bill vs the Mosquitos from Clown Shoes. And B.O.R.I.S. from Hoppin’ Frog. 1:30-5 p.m. FMI and tickets ($49.99 early entry, $39.99 tasting, $19.99 designated driver).

Sunday at the University Club of St. Paul: Robert K. Elder: “Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Hemingway Archives of Oak Park.” Published in 2016, “Hidden Hemingway” traces the author’s life in documents, photographs and ephemera – including love letters, teenage diaries, bullfighting tickets, even a dental x-ray – from the archives in the Chicago suburb where he was born. Part time capsule, part biography, it offers insights into his life, triumphs and trials, joys and tragedies. Elder is one of the book’s three authors. Presented by Fitzgerald in Saint Paul. 1 p.m. Free. 

Sunday at Hamline’s Sundin Music Hall: Chamber Music Society of Minnesota: A Tribute to Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Following Tuesday’s memorial service at Orchestra Hall, the CMSM – which has had a long relationship with the maestro – will honor him in its own way, performing Skrowaczewski’s chamber music, his last works including the premiere of a short solo, and a new work written in his memory by Minneapolis-based composer Steve Heitzig. The performers include new Minnesota Orchestra principal musicians Joseph Peters (oboe) and Gabriel Campos Zamora (clarinet). 4 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25).

Monday and Tuesday at the Playwrights’ Center: Free public reading of “Minneapolis/St. Paul” by Lee Blessing. The 12th year of the Ruth Easton New Play Series concludes with a play about a crime novelist who leads two lives: one as Randall, middle-aged husband and father, and one as Mandy, newly wedded wife and stepmother. Jeremy B. Cohen directs a cast that includes Jeffrey Carlson, Michael Booth and Tracey Maloney. Blessing grew up in the Twin Cities but now lives in Los Angeles. 7 p.m. FMI and reservations.

MinnPost photo by John Whiting
Rio Nido, left to right: Tim Sparks, Prudence Johnson and Tom Lieberman

Tuesday at Crooners: Rio Nido. Hugely popular in the Twin Cities in the 1970s and ’80s, the jazz trio Rio Nido – Tim Sparks, Prudence Johnson and Tom Lieberman – parted ways for independent careers, then got together for a one-off at the Dakota in December 2015. It was so swinging, so musical and enthusiastically received that they’ve played several times since. The Dunsmore Room at Crooners – meant and made for listening – is a perfect place to hear how truly good they are. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25/ $50 dinner show).

On sale now

The 36th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival starts April 13. Tickets are on sale to the general public now. You might take some time this weekend to browse the MSPIFF website and decide how many films you’ll try to squeeze in.

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