Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Chopin Society announces scaled-back 2020-21 season; Wing Young Huie at the Landmark Center

ALSO: a Rain Taxi Summer Issue Virtual Party; “John Lewis: Good Trouble” is available; and more.

Benjamin Grosvenor
On March 28, internationally acclaimed British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will make his fourth appearance in the series.
Patrick Allen/Opera Omnia

It’s something. And it’s hopeful, And if it happens, it will be good. The Frederic Chopin Society announced late last week that it had scheduled tentative dates for three young artists. “It’s not a sure thing, but we’re keeping fingers crossed,” the Society said in a Facebook post. “Should know by early Dec. if we can go ahead.”

The season will begin – if it begins – on Feb. 21, 2021, with Singapore-born American pianist Kate Liu. She won the Bronze Medal, the award for best mazurka, and the Audience Prize at the 2015 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Liu released her debut album – of Chopin, of course – in 2016. She’s 26.

The internationally acclaimed British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor made his Chopin Society debut in 2005-06, at age 12, then returned in 2009-10 and 2016-17. On March 28, he’ll make his fourth appearance in the series. Grosvenor’s latest recording – six so far, most on Decca – features both Chopin piano concertos. His brilliant career has included performances with the world’s great orchestras on the world’s great stages, but his calendar, like everyone else’s, has been full of cancellations since March. He’s 28.

Chinese-American pianist Eric Lu won the First Prize and Gold Medal at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2018. In 2015, he played a special pre-season all-Chopin concert here on his way to the International Chopin Competition, where he became a prize-winning finalist. His fourth and latest recording, which includes the Chopin Préludes, came out in February on Warner. Lu is 23.

Article continues after advertisement

The unbroken reign of the butter princesses

ICYMI in the Star Tribune and the New York Times: Minnesota will still have a Princess Kay of the Milky Way. We will still have butter sculptures of Princess Kay and the other nine finalists for the dairy industry’s annual award. The Minnesota State Fair has been canceled, but the 67-year-old tradition will continue.

Add this to the Fair’s decision to hold the Fine Arts Exhibition from Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, and we’re starting to hold out hope for seed art. And maybe streams of past grandstand shows?

2020 Princess Kay finalists
Midwest Dairy and Matt Addington Photography
2020 Princess Kay finalists
Princess Kay of the Milky Way is a program of Midwest Dairy, an agricultural cooperative funded by farmers across a 10-state region that includes Minnesota. Midwest Dairy broke the news last week that the coronation and butter sculpting will go on. Princess Kay will be crowned on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at a private banquet for the candidates and their families. The ceremony will be live streamed over the Princess Kay Facebook page starting at 7:45 p.m.

The new Princess Kay’s likeness will be sculpted on Thursday, Aug. 13, in the butter booth inside the Dairy Building, which will be closed to the public. The nine other finalists will be sculpted between then and Saturday, Aug. 22. Live updates will be streamed on Facebook, where you can ask questions and interact with Princess Kay and the finalists.

This year’s sculptor will be Gerry Kulzer. Long-time sculptor Linda Christensen lives in California and won’t travel here this year, but she’ll return in 2021 for one last time, before officially passing the (butter) knife to Kulzer, and maybe a scarf or two. It’s cold in that butter booth.

The picks

Available now: “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” The longtime Georgia congressman (he served for 33 years) and iconic civil rights leader died shortly after this film was released. It’s like we just saw him yesterday. While Dawn Porter’s loving portrait is bittersweet, it’s also a rare and timely opportunity to look back on Lewis’ life and legacy. A study of activism, commitment, courage, humility and heroism, it’s even more powerful (and infinitely sadder) with his passing. And it only underscores our loss as a nation. Many people are asking “Who will be our conscience, now that he is gone?” Wait for the ending; it’s a sweet surprise. We watched on Apple TV but the film is on many streaming platforms.

Article continues after advertisement

Rain Taxi
Cover art by Jil Evans
Tonight (Tuesday, July 21) online: Rain Taxi Summer Issue Virtual Party. Are you missing your hangs with other readers and writers? Register (it’s free) for Rain Taxi’s online celebration. This is its 25th year and 98th print issue. The guest list keeps growing and now includes Minnesota Book Award winner James Lenfestey, who will talk about Native American literature and Louise Erdrich; reviewer Tyrone Williams in conversation with poet Xandria Phillips; and Mary Moore Easter, who will unveil a new project. Eric Lorberer will host, cover artist Jil Evans will take us on a tour of her studio, and Linda Stack-Nelson will chime in. Everyone who registers and attends will be entered into a raffle for a prize package. 7-7:45 p.m. Sign up here. Meanwhile, you can read Lenfestey’s piece on Erdrich here.

Thursday (July 23) outdoors at the Landmark Center: Wing Young Huie Artist-in-Residence Finale Event. In Fall 2019, street photographer and McKnight Distinguished Artist Huie was chosen as the inaugural artist for the Landmark Center’s Community Artist Residency Engagement (CARE) program. His residency was cut short by COVID, but the finale will be a celebration, with a twilight outdoor slide show of all the residency photos and music by Jarrelle Barton, a virtuoso musician Huie has mentored. Barton is a young Black man who plays the guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument he fell in love with and taught himself to play – by first learning Chinese on his own. 8:30-10 p.m. on the Market Street Porch, 75 W. 5th St., St. Paul. Bring a lawn chair, wear a mask, and observe proper distancing.

Cory Wong
Courtesy of the artist
Cory Wong
Friday and Saturday (July 24 and 5) at Crooners: Cory Wong featuring the Hornheads. Wong just released his first acoustic album, “Trail Songs: Dusk.” Before then, he made an album with Jon Batiste, the leader of Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” band, with which he has often appeared. And before then came “Motivational Music for the Syncopated Soul.” The respected jazz and funk guitarist (and longtime Vulfpeck member) learned his trade in the Twin Cities, where he went to McNally Smith, co-founded Secret Stash Records, had his own quartet, and performed with Sonny Knight and Dr. Mambo’s Combo. The Hornheads played with Prince from 1991-2001. This will be a blast. Early/Show sets at 5 p.m., Late/Jam sets at 8 p.m. Car Drive-In tickets are sold out for all four shows. Properly distanced outdoor seating is still available. FMI and tickets ($40).