Historical Society names new director; ‘Carry-on Homes’ to grace Commons

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun
Minnesota Historical Society's History Center in St. Paul.

In November, the Minnesota Historical Society announced that its director since 2011, D. Stephen Elliott, would retire in June. On Friday, we learned that Kent Whitworth will become director and CEO on July 1, 2018. 

Kent Whitworth
Kent Whitworth

Whitworth has family ties to Minnesota and is a lifelong Vikings and Twins fan, but he has spent his career to date in the South. Since 2004, he has been executive director of the Kentucky Historical Society. He was previously executive director for the East Tennessee Historical Society, and he has his master’s degree in history from Middle Tennessee State University. 

Whitworth is a founder and leader of the national History Relevance campaign, which (among other goals) is working to change the common perception that history is nice but not essential. “History helps people envision a better future,” Whitworth said in a statement. “Democracy thrives when individuals convene to express opinions, listen to others and take action.”

Whitworth and his wife, Sarah, a youth outreach professional, will relocate to the Twin Cities. Here he will lead an organization with 26 historic sites and museums including the Minnesota State Capitol and Split Rock Lighthouse, vast collections, a focus on historic preservation, a commitment to education, an ever-changing calendar of exhibits and programs, and the Minnesota Historical Society Press, the oldest publisher in the state and the nation’s largest historical society press. 

Five artists from five countries win Creative City Challenge

Peng Wu (China), Shunjie Yong (Malaysia), Aki Shibata (Japan), Preston Drum (United States) and Zoe Cinel (Italy) have won the sixth annual Creative City Challenge. By June 15, they will have built a multifunctional pavilion on the Commons hosting the stories of immigrants in Minnesota.

Carry-on Homes
Called “Carry-on Homes,” stemming from a documentary photography project by that name, the installation will reimagine home as an open structure without walls.

Called “Carry-on Homes,” stemming from a documentary photography project by that name, the installation will reimagine home as an open structure without walls. Instead, there will be a stage, a mural, a reflecting garden, a photo gallery and a sculpture built from repurposed suitcases. It will be a place for gatherings, workshops, live performances and personal reflection.

“Carry-on Homes” will premiere on June 15, the first night of Northern Spark 2018. It will remain free and open to everyone throughout the summer.

Creative City Challenge began in 2013 as a project of the Minneapolis Convention Center, City of Minneapolis’ Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy program and Meet Minneapolis. The winning installations were sited on the Convention Center plaza. The Challenge moved to the Commons in 2017 and is now a project of the City of Minneapolis program, Northern Lights.MN and the Commons. Winning artists receive a $50,000 commission to create a temporary, interactive work of public art. “Carry-on Homes” will be the second pavilion-type Creative City Challenge winner, after 2014’s “Balancing Ground.”

Minnesota Orchestra adds oboist, date at the Proms

Kathryn Greenbank, principal oboe of the SPCO since 1982, has been named associate principal oboe of the Minnesota Orchestra. She’ll start her new job in September, when the 2018-19 season begins. Greenbank has been the Minnesota Orchestra’s acting associate principal oboe in 2017-18.

On Aug. 6, Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra will perform at the BBC Proms, the world’s largest classical music festival. They’ll stop at London’s Royal Albert Hall on the way to South Africa for a previously announced five-city tour that begins Aug. 7. Classical MPR will broadcast the concert live starting at 1 p.m. CST. If you want to hear the program live at Orchestra Hall before then, you can do that on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at a tour send-off event. FMI and tickets ($25-80).

The picks

Tonight (Tuesday, May 1) through Sunday at the Jungle: “The Wolves.” Sarah DeLappe’s play about a high-school girls’ soccer team is unlike anything else you’ll see this year, maybe ever. We’re sorry to tell you it’s totally sold out, including all the performances added when the Jungle knew it had a hit on its hands. The cast is nine young female actors, who had to learn some fancy soccer moves. The stage is a curve of Astroturf. The props are a soccer ball and a bag of orange slices. The language is as free-flowing and full of sudden moves as a soccer game. “The Wolves” is very new; it premiered in September 2016 and was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It feels in-the-moment and unfiltered. We in the audience are flies on the wall, observing a group of teenagers in various stages of becoming adults, dealing with relationships, their own issues and the world around them. There isn’t a stereotype in the bunch. Nearly every play at the Jungle since Sarah Rasmussen became artistic director has been a surprise, but none more than “The Wolves,” which she directs. It’s a new theater and welcome to it. Closes Sunday. Turnbacks happen. 612-822-7063.

Wednesday at Bryant-Lake Bowl: Writers Go to the Movies. This month’s film is “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” the true story of French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a massive stroke that left him with one movement: blinking an eye. Poet Gretchen Marquette will introduce the film and talk briefly about how it has affected her writing. After the film, Marquette and Ryan Fontaine, a painter and sculptor, will have a conversation. Doors at 6 p.m, program at 7. FMI and tickets ($6-12 sliding scale).

Sharon Bezaly
Photo by Keith Saunders
Sharon Bezaly, an artist the Times dubbed “God’s gift to the flute,” Thursday through Saturday at Orchestra Hall.

Thursday through Saturday at Orchestra Hall: American Voices: Copland, Bernstein and Barber. This all-American program includes the world premiere of a flute concerto by Jeff Beal, composer for the Netflix series “House of Cards,” the only theme we never skipped while binge-watching a TV series. The soloist will be Sharon Bezaly, an artist the Times dubbed “God’s gift to the flute.” Born in Israel, now living in Sweden, Bezaly first appeared with the orchestra in 2006, performing a flute concerto written especially for her. Also on the program: Copland’s Suite from “Billy the Kid,” Barber’s Violin Concerto, with Susie Park as soloist, and Bernstein’s first film score, “On the Waterfront.” Osmo Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra. 11 a.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. FMI and tickets ($12-96).

Friday at the East Side Freedom Library: The Artist as Activist. Reinaldo Moya, the Schubert Club’s composer-in-residence and a graduate of Venezuela’s “El Sistema” program, will talk about the role of a composer as an activist, his own career and his music, in which he often explores the immigrant experience and other social issues. With pianist Matthew McCright. 7 p.m. Free.

On sale now

If you’re heading to beautiful Winona this summer, single tickets are on sale now (as of noon today) for the city’s annual Minnesota Beethoven FestivalArtists this year include the Minnesota Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Sō Percussion, Marc-Andre Hamelin and young Minnesota pianist Kenny Broberg, who made a big splash earlier this year when he stepped in for an ailing André Watts. Oh, and he won a silver medal at the 2017 Van Cliburn competition. The Beethoven festival takes place July 2-22. FMI and tickets ($25/21); 507-457-1715. 

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