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Minnesota Orchestra to resume playing Aug. 3; ‘Art Connects Us’ billboards offer hope and thanks

ALSO: New statewide book club to read ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’; watch Science Museum films at home; a drawing class via Zoom from the Walker; and more.

The Minnesota Orchestra
The Minnesota Orchestra will play for free on Aug. 5 at Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Orchestra

We haven’t heard the Minnesota Orchestra perform live since Friday, March 13, when the musicians played Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony to a mostly empty Orchestra Hall. (The concert, both beautiful and poignant, was broadcast over Classical MPR; you can listen here to a recording.) Like all arts organizations in the state, the orchestra cleared its performance calendar in response to COVID-19. Concerts were canceled through March 23, then April 28, then June 15.

But all are not lost. The orchestra announced on Tuesday that it has “restructured” the rest of its 2019-20 season and will play five weeks of rescheduled concerts in August and early September, typically the orchestra’s between-seasons break. These will include three free Symphony for the Cities concerts (Aug. 3 in Hudson, Aug. 4 in Plymouth and Aug. 5 at Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis). The orchestra will also perform three programs featuring Minnesota Orchestra soloists Fei Xie (bassoon), Anthony Ross (cello), Susie Park (violin) and Silver Ainomäe (cello). All concerts will be led by Osmo Vänskä or Akiko Fujimoto.

Vänskä said in a statement, “We miss sharing live music with our audiences very much, and we have weighed many options around when the Orchestra can resume performance again. Based on the latest information, we have adapted our calendar to shift performances into August, when we are hopeful we’ll be able to gather at Orchestra Hall … If we need to make changes to this revised calendar as August draws closer, we will do so.”

Several other concerts and events on the orchestra’s spring 2020 calendar were moved forward into the 2020-21 season, among them performances and recording sessions featuring Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. The Symphony Ball has been rescheduled to May 2021. The 2020-21 concert season will begin as planned in late Sept. 2020. We’ll have more on that next week.

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All of Summer at Orchestra Hall, the enticing and imaginative Sommerfest reboot announced in early March, has been postponed a year, to July 2021.

Creative partner Jon Kimura Parker said, “These times call for flexibility and instead of exploring ‘The Beethoven Influence’ this summer to commemorate Beethoven’s 250th birthday, we’ll celebrate his 251st next year.”

Schubert Club reschedules Beethoven Quartets Cycle

Beethoven doesn’t care when we celebrate his birthday, but the Schubert Club’s Barry Kempton does. While it’s totally understandable why the Minnesota Orchestra would move its “Beethoven Influence”-themed summer program to next year (it was coming up too soon, guest conductors had to fly in, and the orchestra couldn’t guarantee the full experience), we’re happy to hear that the famed Danish String Quartet will return in October and December to perform the full cycle of Beethoven string quartets in a series of six concerts originally scheduled for May.

In an interview with MinnPost earlier this month, Kempton said, “They really want to do it, and I particularly wanted this to happen during calendar year 2020.” In a release announcing the new dates – Oct. 25 at St. Anthony Park UCC, Oct. 29 and 30 at the American Swedish Institute, Oct. 3 at Westminster Hall, Dec. 3 at the Ordway, Dec. 4 at House of Hope Presbyterian Church and Dec. 5 back at the Ordway – the Schubert Club explained, “Due to scheduling and venue availability, the programs will be presented in a slightly different order than originally planned.”

For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that’s OK.

Billboards by artists honor those working on the front lines

Need a little sunshine in your life? Feeling grateful for the front-line workers in hospitals, working construction sites and road crews, and delivering your groceries and mail? Hennepin Theatre Trust and Clear Channel have teamed up to spread hope and gratitude in a big, bold way: on digital billboards. They’re also helping artists, some of the people hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Reggie LeFlore included THANK YOU in his tribute to essential workers.
Reggie LeFlore included THANK YOU in his tribute to essential workers.
Led by Joan Vorderbruggen, the Trust’s Director of Hennepin Theatre District Engagement and the force behind the “Made Here” art installations and Eduardo Kobra’s “Bob Dylan” mural, the new project is called “Art Connects Us.” From now until the end of May, 10 works of original artwork by Minnesota-based artists will be displayed in rotation on 60 roadside digital billboards throughout the five-county metro area. It’s estimated that they will reach more than 13 million people.

Reggie LeFlore included THANK YOU in his tribute to essential workers. Wing Young Huie chose two photographs to make people smile. Kathy McTavish centered the word “love.” Kao Lee Thao painted faces of hope.

Some of the artists are internationally known. Others are emerging. Sixty percent are from communities of color. All were paid $500. For LeFlore, this means he can pay his rent and utilities.

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Let’s all read Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’

In the throes of a pandemic, the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library – as the Minnesota Center for the Book (so designated by the Library of Congress) – has launched a new statewide program.

Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo
Created with the Minnesota Department of Education and other partners, “One Book | One Minnesota” is a statewide book club for Minnesotans of all ages. The goal: to bring us closer together. We’re invited to read the same book, Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal-winning “Because of Winn-Dixie,” and meet virtually to reflect and discuss.

Get it from your library, if you can. Or read it free online at Ebooks Minnesota for the next eight weeks. Or buy it from Red Balloon or another indie bookstore. Then visit your local library’s website for information on the book and virtual discussions.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, April 16) at 7 p.m.: Drawing Class with Leslie Barlow. From the Walker, an online life drawing class via Zoom. All you need is a piece of paper and a pencil. Barlow is a Minneapolis-based visual artist and educator who has exhibited locally and nationally, including solo shows at Public Functionary and St. Kate’s Catherine G. Murphy Gallery. FMI and registration. When you register, you’ll receive a link. Free.

Leslie Barlow is a Minneapolis-based visual artist and educator who has exhibited locally and nationally.
Photo by Nicole Thomas
Leslie Barlow is a Minneapolis-based visual artist and educator who has exhibited locally and nationally.
Tonight at 7 p.m.: “Jazz Fest Live.” Week 2 of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival’s streaming series features jazz singer Nayo Jones, who impressed at the 2018 Jazz Fest and the Fall Jazz Fest at Crooners later that year. She will perform with her father, Doc Jones. Here’s the link you need to gain access.

Tonight at 7:45 p.m.: Dessa #ShowOfForceMajeure reading. The poet, memoirist, rapper, musician and Minnesota Orchestra darling has been doing a series of readings of “the weird stuff” on her Instagram. This week’s “will feature material that lands between genres … Cocktail attire from the waist up.”

Friday at 2 p.m.: Stay Home with the Current Live Virtual Session: Dave Pirner. The Soul Asylum songwriter and lead vocalist will give a live performance on the Current’s Facebook page. BTW, Pirner recently released his collected lyrics as a book, “Loud Fast Words,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. In case you want to order a copy from your favorite indie bookstore. P.S. Check the Current’s Virtual Gig List for updates on who’s playing virtually when and where.

Omnifest at Home. The Science Museum of Minnesota is closed, its famous Omnitheater dark. But – how cool is this? – you can screen three films at home for free: “Wild Ocean,” “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs” and “Dinosaurs Alive!” Entertaining AND educational. Go here.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting. You, too, can paint almighty pictures. Bob Ross believed it, and so did countless fans who watched his popular public television series. Every single episode of all 31 seasons is available online to view for free.