Since 1980, when the series launched with Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, the Westminster Town Hall Forum has brought “voices that inspire, issues that matter” to the Presbyterian Church on Nicollet Mall and 12th Street in downtown Minneapolis. Leading authors, activists, journalists, and analysts have spoken on politics, economics, civil rights, world affairs, science, society, spirituality, arts and literature, and other topics we could all stand to know more about. Here’s who’s coming to the Forum this fall:
Tuesday, Sept. 24, noon: Kathleen Belew. Author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” Belew has been featured on “PBS News Hour,” “Fresh Air,” “Weekend Edition” and more, and in the PBS “Frontline” documentary “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis.”
Tuesday, Oct. 22, noon: Jim Sciutto. CNN’s chief national security correspondent and co-anchor of “CNN Newsroom,” Sciutto is an award-winning journalist who reports and provides analysis on all aspects of U.S. national security. He is the author of “The Shadow War: Inside Russia’s and China’s Secret Operations to Defeat America.”
Tuesday, Nov. 12, noon: André Thomas. A renowned choral conductor and educator, Thomas is the author of “Way Over in Beulah Lan’: Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual.” He will speak on the meaning and impact of African-American spirituals.
Saturday, Nov. 16, 11 a.m.: Parker Palmer. An educator, spiritual leader, activist, recipient of 13 honorary doctorates, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal and Carleton graduate, Palmer is a prolific author whose best sellers include “The Courage to Teach: Healing the Heart of Democracy” and “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old.” His Forum topic – in conversation with Sondra Samuels, president of the Northside Achievement Zone – will be “We the People: A Time to Act.”
Forums are an hour long and include a speaker presentation and a Q&A. Most take place at noon on weekdays. (Parker Palmer is the exception this season.) Local musicians perform a half-hour before each forum, and a public reception, often with a book signing, follows. Forums are always free and open to all. If you can’t be there, you can listen in to the live broadcast on MPR or catch the podcast later. Audio recordings are available for most programs from the start (more than 300 to date). Video recordings are available for those after 2004. Access all through the smartly organized, user-friendly archive.
Tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 27) at the Lagoon: “Deconstructing the Beatles: Abbey Road Side 2.” Beatleologist Scott Freiman explains the whys, hows and wherefores of side 2 of the final album the Beatles recorded together at EMI Studios. It’s the side that starts with “You Never Give Me Your Money,” goes gorgeous in “Sun King,” gallops through the short, rather silly songs “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Polythene Pam” (thanks a lot for that one, John and Paul) and “She Came in through the Bathroom Window,” resolves into the lullabye “Golden Slumbers,” and transitions through “Carry That Weight” into “The End” with its great closing line, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” One night, one screening. 7 p.m. FMI including trailer and tickets ($15).
Wednesday at the Parkway: Mixed Company: Composition, Improvisation and Place: Bill Cottman, Davu Seru & No Territory Band. Seru’s No Territory Band is like a big sonic playground with a formidable horn and woodwinds section: Scott Fultz on saxophones, JC Sanford on trombone, Pat O’Keefe on clarinets, Jake Baldwin on trumpet and Nathan Hanson on saxophones. With Seru on drums and Levi Schwartzberg on vibraphone, they perform Seru’s original compositions and their own improvisations. Add Bill Cottman’s projections – images collected around a north Minneapois narrative – and this will be an evening of unexpected sounds and visuals, mixed live on the spot. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7. FMI and tickets ($10 advance, $15 door).
Wednesday at Jazz Central: Sound/Simulacra featuring Kip Jones of ETHEL Quartet. It’s possible (also recommended, if you have the time) to catch Mixed Company at the Parkway, then head to Jazz Central in Northeast and make it a night of head-exploding music. Sound/Simulacra is the monthly series from John Keston (keyboards, electronics) and Cody McKinney (bass, voice, electronics) that explores improvisation. This month’s special guest will be violinist, composer and Duluth native Kip Jones, a member of the New York-based modern string quartet ETHEL, which the New York Times called “indefatigable and eclectic.” Over the past five years, ETHEL has premiered more than 150 new works, many commissioned by the quartet. Set 1 will be Kip Jones solo; for set II, he’ll be joined by McKinney and Keston. Doors at 8:15, music at 8:30. FMI. $10 admission, $5 with student ID.
Wednesday and Thursday at the Trylon: 6th Annual Altered Aesthetics Film Festival. A program of avant-garde and experimental shorts created by local and international filmmakers. Tip: If you go the first night, you can help create a film by animator Maret Davies Polzine that will screen the second night. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10 advance, $5-15 sliding scale at the door).
Thursday at the Walker: Mn Artists Presents: CarryOn Homes. Take a tour of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden led by a live donkey. See a film, view a lighting installation, and watch live performances. Curated by the members of CarryOn Homes – five artists from five countries – this series returns for a third year to consider the question, “How and why do we learn the way we do?” Local artists who have experienced immigration or emigration will turn the halls of the Walker into an experimental classroom. CarryOn Homes is Zoe Cinel (Italy), Preston Drum (USA), Aki Shibata (Japan), Peng Wu (China) and Shunjie Young (Malaysia). 5-9 p.m. Free.