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Rose Ensemble’s 23rd season to be its last; Vijay Iyer and Teju Cole at the Walker

Rose Ensemble’s 23rd season to be its last
Photo by Michael Haug
Over the years, the Rose Ensemble has performed at festivals and music series across the U.S., Europe and South America, at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The Rose Ensemble has a glorious sound and a singular repertoire: deeply researched music from centuries past, presented as modern-day premieres; “early music” from places like Hawaii and mainland North America; programs based on oral traditions from across the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It has made almost a dozen recordings, performed around the world and won numerous awards – for artistic excellence, choral excellence, lifetime achievement in early music, and a commitment to outreach, educational and/or culturally diverse activities, among others. Seasons often featured music sung in 20 languages.

On Wednesday, Artistic Director Jordan Sramek announced that 2018-19 would be the final season for the early music vocal ensemble he founded in 1996. “Recent financial challenges were simply more than our organization could overcome,” he said in a statement. Those challenges included lower than expected ticket sales, stagnation in institutional funding, and “significant legal expenses associated with a random audit by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.”

“I’m heartbroken,” Sramek said. “Considering our great success over the past year alone – releasing our 11th recording (‘Treasures from Baroque Malta’), performing almost 50 concerts across the U.S. and Europe, and providing over 40 free outreach programs for thousands of children and adults across Minnesota – the pill is very bitter indeed.”

Artistic Director Jordan Sramek
Photo by Michael Haug
Artistic Director Jordan Sramek

Over the years, the Rose Ensemble has performed at festivals and music series across the U.S., Europe and South America, at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. It has collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra and VocalEssence and partnered with the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library for free music and culture programs. It has presented educational programs in K-12 schools, colleges and universities in Minnesota and beyond. It recently began an interactive program for people in assisted living communities.

The end of the Rose Ensemble will also be a blow to its many musicians, including singers and instrumentalists, who were paid.

The scope, scale and programming for 2018-19 won’t be known until responses are tallied to a fundraising appeal letter recently sent to Rose Ensemble supporters.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, May 31) through Sunday at the Red Eye Theater: 34th Annual New Works 4 Weeks. Week One (last week) was about works-in-progress. Week Two (this week) features new creations by dance makers Sharon Picasso and Anat Shinar. In “The Speculative Sentence,” Picasso makes chance a factor in what gets illuminated on stage by including motion detector fixtures. In “Here’s How (Refuted),” Shinar uses text, movement and the contents of her closet to explore her obsession with self-help literature. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($18/10; Thursday is pay-as-able). The Red Eye’s space on West 14th, just off Nicollet, will feel the wrecking ball later this year.

Vijay Iyer
Photo by by Barbara Rigon
Vijay Iyer

Tonight and tomorrow at the Walker: Vijay Iyer & Teju Cole: “Blind Spot.” Several music events in the Walker’s 2017-18 Performing Arts season have built on relationships the Walker has with the artists: the profound (and poignant) “The Bad Plus Bill Frisell” in September, the stellar Sonic Universe Project in March, Jason Moran’s giant step “The Last Jazz Fest” earlier this month. And now Vijay Iyer with Teju Cole. The Walker’s relationship with the prodigiously creative and essential Iyer, composer and pianist, began in 2006 with a performance by Iyer’s quartet and continued in March 2012 with a two-night mini-festival. In a co-presentation with the SPCO's Liquid Music, Iyer returns for a don’t-miss-this collaboration with Teju Cole, a writer, author, photographer, and the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine. The music will be different on both nights and will include a piano quintet with musicians from the SPCO. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30/24).

Friday at the American Swedish Institute: Cocktails at the Castle: Fantastical Worlds. The moss-covered feral children of Finnish sculptor Kim Simonsson, whose medium is ceramics, are ASI’s latest inhabitants and a good excuse for one of its famous parties. Come for the cocktails, the activities, the performances, the food from FIKA and the surprises around every corner. With Graveyard Club, Gramma’s Boyfriend and Feel Free Hi-Fi (music), Northern Clay Center (make ceramic “seed bombs”) and experts from the U of M’s College of Biological Sciences Conservatory (learn all about moss), Impossible Salt (theater), Kelvin Wailey (dance) and the Twin Cities Psychotronic Film Society (films). The thing about a party at ASI is of course it’s about them, but it’s also about our arts community. 7-11 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20 advance, $25 door).

"Girl with Two-Headed Rabbit"
Courtesy of the American Swedish Institute
"Girl With Two-Headed Rabbit" by Finnish sculptor Kim Simonsson

Friday in Prospect Park: Witch’s Hat Water Tower Open-to-the-Public Night. The actual official name for this event is the Pratt Ice Cream Social, but the reason to go (along with the ice cream) is it’s the only night of the year when the iconic Witch’s Hat Water Tower is open to the public. If you’ve always wanted to climb the stairs to the observation deck and look out on Minneapolis like some Olympian god – Prospect Park is the highest natural land area in the city – go for it. 5:30-8:30 p.m.  Hat tip to Old Minneapolis.

Sunday at LUSH: Patrick’s Cabaret FUNeral. The last hurrah of the queer-friendly cabaret begun by Patrick Scully in 1986. Money woes are forcing the closure of the Twin Cities arts organization that also opened its arms to artists of color, artists with disabilities and transgender artists. The evening will include eulogistic performances spanning the cabaret’s history, interpretations of traditional funeral rituals and a dance party. Wear your funeral finest. With Danielle Daniel, Howard Lieberman, Amy Salloway, Iris Oconnel, House of Larva, Gabriela Santiago, Kat Purcell and DJs Lisa Lisa Simpson and Plunging Necklines. Ticketed performance at 7:30 p.m., free dance party at 9. FMI and tickets ($5-20 sliding scale).

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