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Lakes Area Music Festival goes virtual in a big way; CTC helps present ‘A Kids Play About Racism’

ALSO: Minnesota Fringe begins; “John Lewis: Good Trouble” from the Film Society; the Powderhorn Art Fair goes online; and more.

A string quartet records a performance on July 20 for the Lakes Area Music Festival.
A string quartet records a performance on July 20 for the Lakes Area Music Festival. From left: violinists Suliman Tekalli and Ravenna Lipchik, violist Olivia Chew and cellist Austin Fisher.
Courtesy of the Lakes Area Music Festival

Maybe you’ve always wanted to check out the Lakes Area Music Festival, but you never got around to it, even though it’s free and has been going on (and growing) for more than a decade. The three-week festival, now in its 12th year, brings hundreds of top classical artists from orchestras and opera companies around the world to Brainerd for dozens of concerts, including symphonies, vocal recitals, chamber music and a complete opera.

There’s no excuse this year, because the festival will come to you – no matter where you are, anywhere in the world. Responding to COVID-19 but refusing to cancel, LAMF has gone virtual. And not by streaming concerts from past years. All performances will be new, filmed over a period of several weeks at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd, the festival’s usual venue, featuring several principal artists performing with small ensembles. So no full symphonies, but all fresh sounds, available on Facebook Live, YouTube and Classical MPR’s website.

LAMF has prepared a 62-page program book that is being mailed to supporters. You can download it to learn about the artists and the music, read the lively program notes (by Emily Hogstad, whose “Song of the Lark” blog is known to many classical music fans) and decide which and how many of the 11 recitals you want to see.

The first, “Voices of Youth,” will take place tomorrow (Friday, July 31) at 7:30 p.m. The last, a “Digital Finale” featuring LAMF artists around the globe, will conclude this year’s festival on Sunday, Aug. 16.

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In between, an evening of opera arias featuring Metropolitan Opera tenor David Portillo and guests; “Giving Thanks,” spotlighting Black creatives including Uzee Brown Jr., Roland Hayes, Harry T. Burleigh and Margaret Bonds; “City of Angels,” a night of music by Philip Glass, Ennio Morricone and Erich Wolfgang Korngold; and “Nightmares and Dreams,” an intriguing concert featuring works by Leclair and Locatelli, Tartini and Telemann.

Plus music by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Caroline Shaw, Valerie Coleman, Ligeti, Bach, Saint-Saëns, Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Arvo Pärt, John Adams, Ravel, Satie, Derrick Spiva Jr. and Charlie Chaplin.

Rehearsing for “Voices of Youth,” the opening night concert.
Courtesy of the Lakes Area Music Festival
Rehearsing for “Voices of Youth,” the opening night concert.
This year’s nearly 40 artists come from the Minnesota Orchestra (Sarah Grimes, Felicity James, David Auerbach, Gabriel Campos Zamora), SPCO (Alicia McQuerrey), University of Minnesota faculty (Timothy Lovelace), Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and more.

Kenny Broberg fans, you can see and hear the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist play Dvorák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major on Wednesday, Aug. 5, in a program called “Imagining America.”

As you enjoy a concert or two or the whole festival, you might also think about how much it means for the artists to play – with each other, for the festival and for you. In an email, Artistic and Executive Director (and festival co-founder) Scott Lykins noted that this is “a very unique season, but one that has been particularly meaningful to our artists who haven’t had a chance to play music with others in months.” Some took road trips, others flew in.

For updates, follow LAMF on Facebook.

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The picks

Tonight (Thursday, July 30): Minnesota Fringe begins. Do you have your Fringe Button? Make Nightly Fringe a destination for the next several days. In between, visit the Digital Hub for on-demand Fringe performances.

Tonight (Thursday, July 30) through Thursday, Aug. 6, at MSP Film Society’s Virtual Cinema: “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” An encore engagement of this new documentary will be followed Monday (Aug. 3) with a free Community Conversation with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and MSP Film Society programmer Craig Laurence Rice. If you haven’t yet seen this powerful and inspiring film, it’s worth your time and $12 ($10 if you’re a MSP Film Society member). FMI including trailer and tickets. Monday’s Zoom conversation with Ellison and Rice is free; register here.

Friday (Aug. 1) at Theatre L‘Homme Dieu in Alexandria: Out of the Box Opera: “Love at a Distance: Opera and Show Tunes Collide at the Drive-In.” From the creators of Diva Cage Match, an evening of music under the stars with soprano Siena Forest, bass-baritone Luke Williams, tenor David Walton, and Carson Rose Schneider on piano. Watch from your car or bring lawn chairs. The program will be a mix of 19th-century opera tunes and 20th-century musical theater, and a blend of romance and comedy. FMI and tickets ($25/person).

Jelani Memory, Khalia Davis
Courtesy of the artists
Jelani Memory, Khalia Davis
Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 1 and 2) at Broadway on Demand: “A Kids Play About Racism.” Children’s Theatre Company has partnered with dozens of theaters across the U.S. for the virtual premiere of Khalia Davis’ adaptation of Jelani Memory’s “A Kids Book About Racism.” Davis also directs. It explains what racism is, what to do when you see it and experience it, and ideas for what to do about it. The all-Black cast and creative team including composer Justin Ellington, who composed the music for “Bars and Measures” at the Jungle in 2016. Interviews and educational videos will also be available. Free.

Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 1 and 2): Powderhorn Art Fair. Not just an art fair, but the intersection of art, activism and community. For its 29th year, Powderhorn will go online with more than 100 artists. The online shop opens Saturday at 8 a.m. and closes Sunday at 11:59 p.m. There will also be a Splash Market showcasing community arts along Chicago Ave. and 35th St. on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Capacity will be limited to 250. COVID safety protocols – masks and distancing – will be observed.

Monday (Aug. 3) at 7:30 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube: “OpenSource: Six Decades of Minnesota Songs.” Last year’s Source Song Festival featured a dozen live events over five days at Westminster, in the chapel and the hall. This year’s is shorter – three events, three days – and virtual. But it’s here, it’s heartfelt and, for lovers of new music, new sounds and art songs, unmissable. Monday’s program looks back at the 2019 OpenSource concert and adds new visual storytelling elements. The songs are by Libby Larsen, David Evan Thomas, Hanna Wolfsrud-Weltzin, Liam Moore, Prince (yes, really) and other composers. Here’s the program. Source continues Wednesday (Aug. 5) at 7:30 with “A Evening Showcasing the Work of Source Guest Artists” and Friday (Aug. 7) at 2 p.m. with “Project Launch: Resource.” Source also has a shiny new website, launched this week.

Tuesday (Aug. 4) at 7 p.m. on Peavey Plaza: Minnesota Orchestra: Chamber Music on Peavey Plaza. This begins the orchestra’s series of 24 limited-seating thank-you concerts for those who held tickets to cancelled performances in August and early September. All events are invitation only, but additional tickets are being made available to the public via a drawing. Register here for a chance to win.