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Northrop names programming director; Santora to lead Bach Ensemble

ALSO: Two Met Opera audition winners have Twin Cities ties; American Craft Show at St. Paul’s RiverCentre; and more.

Kristen Brogdon
At Northrop, Kristen Brogdon will be responsible for conceiving, curating, developing and implementing the artistic vision of Northrop’s performing arts and related education programs.
Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Kristen Brogdon will be Northrop’s new director of programming, Northrop announced late last week. Brogdon will succeed Christine Tschida, who joined Northrop as director in August 2012.

Brogdon’s experience includes nearly four years at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she directed the Office of the Arts and served as UNCW’s interim associate vice chancellor for community engagement. Prior to that, she spent almost eight years at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as artistic administrator and general manager, and nine years at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she programmed the ballet and contemporary dance season. She was also the general manager of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

At Northrop, Brogdon will be responsible for conceiving, curating, developing and implementing the artistic vision of Northrop’s performing arts and related education programs. We won’t see her dance programming chops until the 2020-21 season. The 2019-20 season, due to be announced soon, was programmed by Tschida.

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Brogdon will start her new job on June 24. She will report to Kari Schloner, who became Northrop’s new director last June.

Leadership change at Minnesota Bach Ensemble

Mischa Santora
Photo by Leslie Plesser
Mischa Santora
Co-founder of the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, Andrew Altenbach has served as its artistic director and conductor since 2013. MBE recently announced that Altenbach will step down at the end of this season and Mischa Santora will succeed him. Altenbach will have led MBE through seven seasons of thoughtfully curated concerts performed by Bach-heads including current and former Minnesota Orchestra musicians. He’ll conduct his second-to-last concerts this weekend (see the picks). His final concert with MBE will be Monday, May 13.

Altenbach lives in Massachusetts and has been commuting to Minnesota. Santora lives in Minnesota and has been commuting to Massachusetts as the music director of Boston Ballet. Santora also serves as music director of MacPhail’s Spotlight Series and has often conducted the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, most recently in March. He was associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 2003–2009.

Two Met Opera audition winners have Twin Cities ties

If you’re a would-be opera singer, winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions can launch your career. Just ask Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson and Eric Owens, to name a few.

Thomas Glass
Photo by Simon Pauly
Thomas Glass
So when we saw the list of this year’s winners – the Final Five, who rose to the top after months of local and regional auditions – we were thrilled to find two names we know: Thomas Glass and Miles Mykkanen.

Glass, a baritone, hails from Edina. He was a Minnesota Opera resident artist in 2016-17. He sang Capulet in the company’s production of “Romeo & Juliet,” Gustave in “Dinner at Eight” and Schaunard in “La Boheme.” He’s currently a second-year studio artist at Houston Grand Opera.

Mykkanen, a tenor, is from Bessemer, Michigan, so we can’t claim him as our own. But we’ll never forget his Minnesota Opera debut as Lt. Sprink in last November’s return of “Silent Night,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera born here in 2011.

The 65th year of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions drew more than 1,000 singers to district-level and regional auditions held across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. On Sunday, nine finalists performed on the Met stage for a panel of judges. Each of the five winners received a cash prize of $15,000.

The other three winners were bass William Guanbo Su from Beijing, China; soprano Elena Villalón from Austin, Texas; and mezzo-soprano Michaela Wolz from Eureka, Missouri.

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The picks

Note: If you were planning to see poet Jorie Graham at Coffman Union on Thursday, April 4, that event has been canceled.

Tonight (Wednesday, April 3) in the Walker Cinema: Rukmini Callimachi: “ISIS, Journalism, and the Internet.” New York Times foreign correspondent Callimachi has covered ISIS since 2014. A three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, she started covering terrorism when locals in Timbuktu, Mali, led her to the HQ of al-Qaeda’s North African branch – and nearly 15,000 pages of internal al-Qaeda documents. Her podcast, “Caliphate,” has over 25 million downloads. At the Walker, she’ll draw on her knowledge of the militant group to examine the effects of the internet as a journalistic tool and a political weapon. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25/20/12). This is part of the Walker’s Mack Lecture series, which looks amazing this year; Claudia Rankine speaks next Wednesday.

Friday through Sunday at the St. Paul RiverCentre: 2019 American Craft Show. This premiere show and sale of American craft – jewelry, clothing, furniture and home décor – takes place in just four U.S. cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, San Francisco and St. Paul. We’d like to think that our show gets some special attention from the parent organization, the American Craft Council, because ACC is based in Minneapolis. Held indoors, out of our changeable weather, this year’s show features 230 artists from across the country. You’ll want to take your time going through it, looking at beautiful things and talking with the artists. Much of it is higher-end, but there are affordables to be found. And an emerging artists program, so be sure to look for the Hip Pop booths and check them out, too. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($11 advance through Thursday, $13 on-site; $5 after 5 p.m. Friday only). Here’s the list of this year’s artists.

The troupe that brought us the smash hit “Lolita” returns with the tale of Commodus, set in the Roman Empire in 193 AD.
Photo by Ryan Lear
The troupe that brought us the smash hit “Lolita” returns with the tale of Commodus, set in the Roman Empire in 193 AD.
Opens Friday at Strike Theater: Four Humors presents “The Last Days of Commodus.” The troupe that brought us the smash hit “Lolita” – based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov, “as told by three idiots” – returns with the tale of Commodus, set in the Roman Empire in 193 AD. Commodus is “a vain, power-hungry madman sowing chaos to further his own interests while sinking ever deeper into delusion and paranoia as those who seek to end his corrupt reign grow ever closer.” Matt Spring wrote it and Jason Ballweber directs a cast of five. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20/15/10 advance, pay-what-you-can at the door). Ends April 20.

Saturday and Monday at MacPhail’s Antonello Hall: Minnesota Bach Ensemble: Brilliant Vivaldi and Bach. Superstar American mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle will sing J.S. Bach’s “Laudamus te” from the B-minor Mass, his “Ich habe genug” (“I am content”) cantata, and Vivaldi’s virtuosic, acrobatic “Vos invito” motet. (Here she is singing the “Agnus Dei” from the mass, if you want to hear her lovely voice.) The program also includes CPE Bach’s Oboe Concerto in B-flat and Handel’s Concerto Grosso op. 6 no. 3, featuring oboist Basil Reeve and violinist Jonathan Magness. 3 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Monday. FMI and tickets ($30/10 students).