Tonight marks the beginning of the end of Liquid Music as we’ve known it for the past seven years. Starting tonight (Thursday, Dec. 5), continuing through Saturday, Seattle-based choreographer Kate Wallich, her dance company the YC, and queer indie pop artist Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, will perform an evening-length collaborative work called “The Sun Still Burns Here” at the Walker’s McGuire Theater, in a co-presentation with the Walker.
The ambition, the invention, and the genre-bending, border-dismissing DNA of this event are what we’ve come to expect from Liquid Music, a series conceived and programmed by Kate Nordstrum since 2012 as part of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. They’re what we’ll miss when it’s gone. In May, the SPCO announced that because of shrinking and shifting corporate funding, it would no longer sponsor Liquid Music beyond these final events. Nordstrum’s position at the SPCO was eliminated.
When we heard the news, among our first thoughts were: What about Kate? Will she stay, or will she go?
We’ve been learning about music and musicians from Nordstrum since her pre-SPCO days at the Southern Theater, where she worked for three years, turning the old theater into a new music hot spot. (She also helped create the great chamber music ensemble Accordo, whose first two seasons were at the Southern.) When the Southern imploded in a financial crisis, she carried on with her own Kate Nordstrum Projects until the SPCO approached her about staging concerts in its little-used rehearsal space in the Hamm Building. That plan morphed into Liquid Music, which became part of our cultural fabric and, before long, nationally known.
Nordstrum has contacts everywhere, from New York City to Washington, D.C. (where the Kennedy Center recently hosted Liquid Music’s TU Dance/Bon Iver smash hit project “Come Through”), Los Angeles (where she served as guest creative producer for the LA Philharmonic’s 2018-19 Fluxus Festival) and Reykjavik (where she knows everyone at the record label Bedroom Community and has featured several of their artists in Liquid Music performances).
But she’s not going anywhere, except to an office above Askov Finlayson in downtown Minneapolis. The Great Northern announced today that it has named Kate Nordstrum its executive and artistic director. In that role, she will expand and grow a festival set in the heart of our Minnesota winter.
The Great Northern was co-founded by Eric Dayton, son of former Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, co-founder of Askov Finlayson, co-owner of Bachelor Farmer and a true fan of winter. (The Star Tribune tells the story of a trip he took at age 16 with his dad and Arctic explorer Will Steger.) Dayton is board president and CEO of the Great Northern, which has gathered the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, City of Lakes Loppet and U.S. Pond Hockey Championships within the same giant snow globe and added original programming. It debuted in January 2017 and has returned every year since, getting bigger and bolder each year.
According to the press release, Nordstrum has been identified by the Great Northern’s board “as a visionary who could transform the festival into an iconic annual event for the Twin Cities region, an international destination for visitors, and an engine of economic and cultural development.”
Nordstrum said, “I see the Great Northern as the embodiment of Minnesota’s progressive Legacy Amendment, shining a light on the things we hold most dear: our natural environment, arts and culture, parks and rec. In winter I find – and through the Great Northern want to build – inspiration through unique cultural activities and creative social experiences.”
Her programming will begin with the 2021 festival, and “it will absolutely include music.”
Meanwhile, when Nordstrum left the SPCO, she took the Liquid Music brand with her. She has created an LLC to house her independent projects and contract work. For 2020, she already has engagements with the National Gallery, Kennedy Center, Cincinnati Symphony and Big Ears Music Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Tonight (Thursday, Dec. 5) through Saturday at the Walker: Kate Wallich + The YC x Perfume Genius: “The Sun Still Burns Here.” The SPCO’s Liquid Music will end its seven-year run with this Midwest premiere: an evening-length work of music by Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas), choreography by Kate Wallich and design by Amiya Brown. A reviewer for Pitchfork wrote, “This might be how the music of Perfume Genius is meant to be experienced.” A writer for the Walker’s “The Gradient” nodded to its “bacchanalian aesthetic.” 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($35-28).
Opens tonight at the Grain Belt Warehouse: “The Norwegians.” Dark & Stormy Productions continues its holiday counterprogramming tradition with a bringback of a play they first produced in 2016. The Norwegians imagined by playwright C. Denby Swanson aren’t ones you might meet at a local lutefisk dinner. They’re professional killers on the job for two jilted women who want revenge. And they seem like such nice men. 77 13th Ave. NE. Studio 202, Minneapolis. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15-39). Closes Jan. 5.
Starts Friday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theater: “Parasite.” This is the film everyone’s talking about and wants to see. South Korea’s Oscar entry for Best International Film has already won a ton of awards, including the top prize at Cannes. The story, in brief: a wealthy family and a poor but street-smart family form a symbiotic relationship that hums along until a parasitic interloper intervenes. Other films by Bong Joon Ho include “Snowpiercer” and “Okja.” All different as night and day. FMI including trailer, times and tickets. Note: Bong will be at the Walker in February, three days after the Academy Awards.
Saturday at Magers & Quinn: “Closing Time” book signing with Bill Lindeke and Andy Sturdevant. If you’re a regular MinnPost reader, you know their names. Lindeke writes Cityscape, and for five years, Sturdevant wrote The Stroll. Together they’ve created a deeply researched, thoroughly enjoyable read about the Twin Cities’ most famous and infamous watering holes, some long gone and some still standing. You can read an excerpt here. 2-4 p.m. Learn about more signings here. History Revealed on Dec. 12 will be a signing and a talk.
Sunday at Icehouse: Zorongo Presents Ay Qué Calor (So Hot!). Flamenco music, song and dance, up close and personal on the small Icehouse stage. We haven’t yet seen Zorongo there, but we did see Kaleena Miller with a jazz trio, and it’s a different way to experience dance. Zorongo founder and artistic director Susana di Palmo directs. With live music by La Conja, Juanito Pascual and Ben Abrahamson. 6 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20 advance, $22 door).
For many, Handel’s “Messiah” is a holiday must – a time to reflect, rejoice and relax as music and singing fill the air. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices.
On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, at Orchestra Hall, Nicholas Kraemer will conduct the Minnesota Orchestra, soloists, and the mighty Minnesota Chorale. 8 p.m. both nights. FMI and tickets ($30-135).
On Sunday, Dec. 8, at St. Olaf Catholic Church, you can sing “Messiah” with the Minnesota Chorale and everyone else who walks through the door. Music will be provided, all ages are welcome, and you don’t need a ticket or a reservation. A free-will offering will be collected.
From Thursday, Dec. 19, through Sunday, Dec. 22, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, soloists, and The Singers will perform “Messiah” four times. On Thursday and Friday they’ll be at the Basilica of St. Mary, on Saturday and Sunday at the Ordway Concert Hall. Jory Vinikour will conduct. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($11-50 adults, $5 kids).