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Schubert Club, SPCO shuffle and cancel concerts; Pen Pals to present full hybrid season

The State Fair isn’t happening, but lots of State Fair events are, including four 2020 virtual showcases: for Cookie Decorating, Crop Art, K-12 Art and Photography and Quilt On-a-Stick.

The International Artist Series includes an online performance by Midori on Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Courtesy of the Schubert Club

After the mid-March tsunami of closings, cancellations, postponements and reschedulings resulting from COVID-19, more of the same keeps happening in wave after wave.

The Schubert Club announced today (Tuesday, Aug. 11) that all remaining performances in 2020 have been postponed or moved online. Late last week, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra canceled all concerts scheduled for September through December 2020.

Only the Minnesota Orchestra still shows a full calendar of live, in-person events from late September through June 2021.

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The Schubert Club’s entire Beethoven Quartet Cycle with the Danish String Quartet – six concerts originally scheduled for May 2020, then moved to October and December 2020 (still within Beethoven’s 250th birthday year) – has been postponed, with new dates TBD. So, too, the first three Schubert Revealed programs featuring David Finckel, Wu Han and friends.

All other fall subscription concerts will proceed as planned on their originally scheduled dates – online and free, but without live audiences. They will stay available and free to watch for a month after the performance dates. If you haven’t yet experienced a Schubert Club performance, you can dip a toe into three popular series: the International Artist Series, Music in the Park and Accordo.

Mark your calendar for these events: Pacifica Quartet, Sept. 20, 4 p.m. (Music in the Park); Lawrence Brownlee, tenor, Oct. 4, 3 p.m. (International Artist Series); Imani Winds, Oct. 11, 4 p.m. (Music in the Park); Accordo, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m. (Accordo); Midori, violin, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. (International Artist Series).

The International Artist Series includes an online performance by tenor Lawrence Brownlee on Oct. 4, 3 p.m.
Courtesy of the Schubert Club
The International Artist Series includes an online performance by tenor Lawrence Brownlee on Oct. 4, 3 p.m.
The Thursday lunchtime Courtroom Concerts will also go online, with dates and programs TBA in September. All concerts will be available for viewing on the Schubert Club’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

In a statement, Schubert Club artistic and executive director Barry Kempton said, “We delayed our decision on welcoming live audiences into venues as long as we could, holding onto the hope that at least some ticket holders would have the opportunity to attend concerts in person. … [We] now accept that through the end of the calendar year, this scenario would not be safe.”

In mid-May, the SPCO announced a belt-tightening 2020-21 season: no guest artists or conductors, no artistic partners. (Renowned Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and MacArthur Fellow Jeremy Denk were among the five artistic partners who were furloughed.) Concerts were set to begin in September at the Ordway Concert Hall and the SPCO’s community venues.

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Last Thursday, the SPCO canceled all concerts through December 2020.  Forty-two live performances of a dozen concert programs won’t take place, including Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations for Chamber Orchestra (a world premiere of an SPCO-commissioned arrangement for chamber orchestra), Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Handel’s “Messiah” for the holidays.

Photo by Chelsea Tischler
Last Thursday, the SPCO canceled all concerts through December 2020.
For now, the season is set to resume in January. Meanwhile, the SPCO’s excellent and extensive online Concert Library remains free and available to all, with 62 concerts and 122 compositions. There will likely be more to come. Managing Director and President Jon Limbacher said in a statement, “We are exploring the possibility of developing new material to share digitally, including live performances streamed from the Ordway Concert Hall.” Those will hinge on whether musicians and staff can present them safely.

And one more: Theatre in the Round Players (TRP), the longest-running theater in Minneapolis, lost nearly half of its 68th season to the virus, four productions beginning with “Great Expectations” (originally set to open March 19) and ending with “Jeeves at Sea” in July and August. Earlier, TRP announced “We are working on next season, which will be announced this summer.” Last week came this word: “Theatre in the Round will remain closed through the end of this calendar year. Our Board of Directors will be considering re-opening some time in 2021.”

Pen Pals to return with a full hybrid season

Friends of the Hennepin County Library has announced its 24th season of Pen Pals. The lineup will be normal – five acclaimed authors – but not the presentation. The first two events will be virtual only. The final three, all in 2021, will take place live at Pen Pals’ usual venue, the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Virtual backups will also be available for people who feel safer staying at home. Can we mention that it feels like we’re looking at the future here?

But first: Tommy Orange, the final author of the 2019-20 season, whose April 30 and May 1 live appearances had to be canceled, has been rescheduled as a livestreamed event on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. Orange will be joined in conversation by Minnesota author and Professor of Ojibwe Anton Treuer. This is currently sold out. Check back as the date approaches to see if new tickets are available.

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And now for the 2020-21 season. Virtual events will be held on Zoom. Tickets will include access to an on-demand recording for 72 hours after the event. These will be virtual only:

Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m.: Colum McCann. Winner of the National Book Award for “Let the Great World Spin,” McCann will be out with his latest “Apeirogon,” which tells the real-life stories of two fathers who lost their children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni
Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m.: Nikki Giovanni. A world-renowned poet, activist and educator, Giovanni is the author of 20 collections of poetry, 13 children’s books, many essays and a memoir, “Gemini,” a finalist for the National Book Award. Her latest book of poetry, “Make Me Rain,” will be released in October.

These will be in-person, with virtual backups:

Feb. 11 (2021) at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.: Yaa Gyasi. Her first novel, “Homecoming,” earned her a place in the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” and the National Book Critics Circle’s award for best book. Her second novel, “Transcendent Kingdom,” is due out in September.

Susan Choi
Susan Choi
May 6 at 7:30 p.m., May 7 at 11 a.m.: Susan Choi. Her latest, “Trust Exercise,” won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction. Choi is also the author of “American Woman,” a 2004 Pulitzer Prize nominee based on the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst.

May 24 at 7:30 p.m., May 25 at 11 a.m.: Erik Larson. The author of page-turning narrative nonfiction, Larson has penned five best-sellers, including “The Devil in the White City,” about events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for six years. His latest, “The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz,” chronicles Winston Churchill’s first year as PM.

Season subscriptions (start at $150) are on sale now. Download an order form or call 612-543-8112. Individual tickets ($45-55) will go on sale later.

And you thought this year’s State Fair was canceled

It was, but you would hardly know it from the flurry of activities and opportunities designed to keep the spirit of the Great Minnesota Get-Together alive.

We learned in July that the Fine Arts Exhibition will be held. ($10 timed tickets are still available.) That a new Princess Kay will be crowned and carved in butter, as will the nine other finalists. That 16 State Fair food vendors will sell corn dogs, cookies, cheese curds and more at a Minnesota State Fair Food Parade. (Tickets for all 13 days – and 19,000 vehicles – sold out in 2½ hours and crashed the website.)

In July, you could buy sleeves of plastic Minnesota State Fair cups, beer not included. But you can find Minnesota State Fair beers at breweries around the cities. And Freehouse Beer just announced another one: Pryes Winning Cobbler, a blueberry pastry ale, available at Blue Plate Restaurant taps, the Pryes taproom and select liquor stores starting this month.

The Fair last week announced a Minnesota State Fair Online Marketplace, a searchable online hub for 240 merch vendors you would otherwise see in the Grandstand, the West End Market, the International Bazaar and other locations on the grounds. Many will offer State Fair deals. The Marketplace will stay up through Dec. 31 so you can do your holiday shopping there as well.

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Four virtual showcases will be held for 2020: for Cookie Decorating, Crop Art, K-12 Art and Photography and Quilt On-a-Stick. Sorry, no premiums or ribbons will be awarded, but selected individuals will receive a pair of free tickets to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair, and other entries will be featured on social media.

The State Fair won’t hold its popular Amateur Talent Contest this year. The Star Tribune must have felt especially sad about that, because it’s stepping in to hold an Amateur Talent Contest of its own – virtually, how else? To enter, upload an original video of yourself or your group’s act by midnight, Aug. 16. FMI and entry form.

That’s all we know … for now. We’re waiting for livestreamed Grandstand shows. Or a round-the-clock feed of baby animals.