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Minnesota Orchestra’s summer fare: Latin American music

Disney-Pixar
“Música Juntos” will feature the world premiere of the live orchestra version of Disney-Pixar’s “Coco.”

Continuing its new tradition of breaking with its old tradition of a Vienna-flavored Sommerfest, the Minnesota Orchestra today announced an exciting series of concerts and events. Last year’s Sommerfest celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday and previewed the orchestra’s South Africa tour. This summer’s spotlight will be Latin American music – a grand finale to the orchestra’s season-long focus on American music, but broader, with more drums and infectious rhythms.

“Música Juntos” (Music Together) will feature 11 unique events from July 4 through Aug. 3. We’ll see the world premiere of the live orchestra version of Disney-Pixar’s “Coco,” with Michael Giacchino’s score (and Oscar-winning Best Song). Roderick Cox will return from all the places he’s been since leaving Minnesota – Berlin, Houston, L.A. – to conduct Afro-Cuban composer José White’s Violin Concerto. Osmo Vänskä will lead a concert of music by Brazilian, Argentine, Mexican and Peruvian composers (and one Romanian).

Grammy winner Luciana Souza will sing. The Moving Company and the orchestra will premiere a new musical theater collaboration. The International Day of Music – 12 hours of performances on multiple stages, indoors and out – will return. So will A Musical Feast, pairing top Twin Cities chefs from Travail, Grand Café and the Lexington with the orchestra, on stage. And so will South African soprano Goitsemang Lehobye, who sang the premieres of Cape Town composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen’s “Harmonia Ubuntu” here and with the orchestra in South Africa.

Scattered across the concerts will be music by Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, Piazzolla, Lecuona, Jimmy López, José Pablo Moncayo and other composers – and also Beethoven, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Brahms, George Gershwin and Artie Shaw.

Peavey Plaza’s $10 million renovation should be finished by the time Sommerfest begins. After years of looking trashy, the Nicollet Mall park – and Orchestra Hall’s front yard – will feature food and drinks, $5 happy hours and free live music by area musicians. For the International Day of Music, the Cedar Cultural Center will program the outdoor stage on 11th St. and vendors will set up an outdoor marketplace. When asked about Peavey’s progress, Jennifer Swanson from the city’s Public Works office emailed back, “The City is coordinating closely with Orchestra Hall on their Sommerfest plans. Peavey Plaza will be open for use in July.” Fingers (and batons) crossed.

The hottest tickets will be the closing concerts on Aug. 2 and 3, when the Minnesota Orchestra will perform “La Pasión segú San Marcos” (St. Mark’s Passion) by contemporary Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. Commissioned by Helmuth Rilling and the International Bach Academy, Golijov’s work melds classical with bossa nova, tango, rumba, mambo, Afro-Cuban music and other Latin American styles. It calls for several vocalists, an orchestra with a lot of percussion instruments, dancers and chorus. (You can listen to the Deutsche Grammophon recording on Spotify. It’s thrilling.)

“La Pasión” had its world premiere in Stuttgart in 2000, where it received a 20-minute standing ovation. The U.S. premiere with the Boston Symphony drew roars from the crowd and ecstatic reviews. Wrote the New Yorker’s Alex Ross: “‘Pasión’ drops like a bomb on the belief that classical music is an exclusively European art. It has a revolutionary air, as if musical history were starting over, with new, sensuous materials and in a new, affirmative tone.”

“La Pasión” will include performances by Schola Cantorum de Venezuela.
“La Pasión” will include performances by Schola Cantorum de Venezuela.
At Orchestra Hall, Venezuela-born María Guinand (who led the premieres) will conduct. The cast will feature many performers from the original performances including Souza, singer-dancer Reynaldo González-Fernández and the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela, who will be joined by singers from the Minnesota Chorale and Border CrosSing. Ten Thousand Things’ Marcela Lorca will be our stage director.

Also of particular note, and not in the least Latin American: “The Prodigious Life of Clara S.” A new work from the Moving Company about 19th-century musician Clara Schumann. Directed by Dominique Serrand, with Jennifer Baldwin Peden, Steven Epp and Nathan Keepers, it was created in collaboration with the orchestra and violist Sam Bergman, who also hosts and writes the Inside the Classics concert series. This sounds all kinds of interesting.

Find the complete Sommerfest schedule on the orchestra’s website. Advance tickets are available to current Minnesota Orchestra subscribers starting next Friday, March 29. Individual tickets will go on sale Friday, April 12.

And if you yearn for that beautiful “Blue Danube,” it’s on the program at tonight’s Minnesota Orchestra concert. FMI.

The picks

Artscape will be on break next week, returning Tuesday, April 2. We’ll leave you with a longer-than-usual list of things we think are worth going out to see.

Tonight (Friday, March 22) at the Cedar: Aar Maanta & Friends “Ubadkaa Mudnaanta Leh” album release. London-based Somali singer-songwriter Maanta is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) and an artist with a mission: educating and mentoring young people. Created with more than 20 Somali youth from the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, “Children Have Priority” (the translation of the Somali title) is the first-ever bilingual Somali-English children’s album. This free, family-friendly evening will also include short story readings, a fashion show, food and snacks. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 6:30. FMI and RSVP.

Opens Saturday at the Park Square Theatre: Collide Theatrical Dance Company: “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” In this contemporary version of Oscar Wilde’s novel, Dorian Gray is a woman in modern-day New York whose photograph leads to social media fame. The photograph ages and she doesn’t in this song-and-dance performance with an all-female cast. Created by Regina Peluso and Michael Hanna; Katie Bradley and Katie Gearty are the vocalists. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($34/26). Ends April 7.

March 26 and 28 at Orchestra Hall: Dessa Live Concert Recording with the Minnesota Orchestra. After two hugely successful concerts together, the rapper-singer-writer and the orchestra are making an album. Sarah Hicks will lead the performances; Lazerbeak and Andy Thompson will produce the album for Doomtree Records. Which is not the orchestra’s usual label. 7:30 p.m. both nights. FMI and tickets ($31-130). March 26 is sold out; as of Thursday, March 21, tickets were still available for March 28.

March 27–30 at the Convention Center and all over: NCECA-related shows. The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts will have its 2019 conference here, with 7,000 people attending. For makers and collectors, it’s Claytopia. NCECA-related shows and exhibitions are popping up all over the Twin Cities and beyond, with everything from humble mugs to large installations. There are so many to choose from we asked Steve Basile of Curated Ceramics for recommendations. His picks: (1) NCECA Gallery Expo in the Convention Center. (2) Clay Here Now at Ridgedale Center. (3) Warren MacKenzie + John Reeve: Kindred Spirits at Minnetonka Center for the Arts. (4) The Pot Spot Exhibition and Sale (with potters from the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour) at Silverhouse Studio. (5) Mojo Coffee Gallery Mugshot 2 in the California Building. And (6) the Backyard Potters show at the Grand Hand Gallery. More? Download an exhibition guide from NCECA. Most area shows will be open beyond March 30.

March 29 at Burnet Fine Art & Advisory: Opening reception for HOTTEA solo exhibition. We know him for his yarn graffiti on chain-link fences in Minneapolis, and his massive hanging yarn installation at the Mall of America in 2017. This will be a different view of the street artist whose work has been featured in the Sydney Opera House, the Artmossphere Biennale in Moscow and New York Fashion Week, to name a few. His show at the Burnet is about personal healing. 6-8 p.m. FMI. Free. Exhibition on view through April 14.

Ballet Preljocaj
Photo by Jean-Claude Carbonne
Ballet Preljocaj is one of the leading stars of contemporary dance in France and abroad.
March 30 at Northrop: Ballet Preljocaj. Inspired by a medieval Chinese tale, choreographer Angelin Preljocaj’s “La Fresque” takes you inside a painting. The dance is performed to an electro-fusion score by Nicolas Godin of the French duo Air and dreamy projections by Constance Guisset. Preljocaj is one of the leading stars of contemporary dance in France and abroad. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets (adults $27-47; other pricing available).

Wadada Leo Smith
Photo by Jimmy Katz
Wadada Leo Smith
March 30 at the Walker: Wadada Leo Smith: “America’s National Parks.” Lifelong creative musician Smith has an expanded view of our national parks. He thinks the Mississippi River should be one, and the city of New Orleans, and the late black ethnomusicologist Eileen Jackson Southern. A Pulitzer finalist in 2013 for his magnificent “10 Freedom Summers,” Smith will be here with his Golden Quartet and special guest drummer Andrew Cyrille. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-24).

March 30 and 31: Minnesota Chorale and Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra: “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci” world premiere. Co-commissioned by the chorale and the orchestra, Jocelyn Hagen’s new large-scale composition illuminates the life, work and genius of Leonardo on the 500th anniversary of his death. Projected images of texts and drawings in Leonardo’s hand, chosen by Hagen from his notebooks, will be animated as motion graphics and coordinated with the music. 7:30 p.m. March 30 at Hopkins High School Auditorium, 4 p.m. March 31 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. Free-will offering; no tickets or reservations. Here’s a short video about the project.

March 31 at Macalester’s Mairs Concert Hall: The Frederic Chopin Society: Kenny Broberg. At 24, Minneapolis-born Broberg won the Silver Medal at the Fifteenth Van Cliburn Piano Competition. Then he stepped in for an ailing André Watts at Orchestra Hall and nailed Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra. Now all of 25, he’ll play music by Bach, Beethoven, Marc-Andre Hamelin and more in his solo recital for the Chopin Society. 3 p.m. FMI and tickets($30).

April 1 at Icehouse: JC Sanford Triocracy: “Pyramid Scheme” album release. Trombonist and composer Sanford recorded his new CD in Brooklyn, just before relocating to the Twin Cities. The album features New Yorkers Andy Laster and Chris Bacas on saxophones and clarinets. At Icehouse, Sanford will be joined by Brandon Wozniak and Bruce Thornton. Their set will be followed by another with the John Christensen Quartet. 8 p.m. FMI. $10 at the door.

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