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MacPhail spotlights electronic music; ‘My Rembrandt’ is a journey into highest-end collecting

ALSO: Theater Latté Da’s The Ghostlight Series “Re-Cast”; “Dolly Parton and Friends: 50 Years at the Grand Ol’ Opry”; and more.

Michael Cain
Michael Cain
In September, six months into the pandemic, MacPhail Center for Music launched a new program: EMRA, for Electronic Music Recording Arts. Designed for composers, producers, DJs, beatmakers, and anyone who wants to make real the music they imagine, the program currently has four faculty members. Three will be featured in the next MacPhail Spotlight Series concert, “The Shape of Waves,” which will premiere this Saturday (March 13) at 7:30 p.m. on MacPhail’s website and Facebook page.

Pianist, composer and EMRA program director Michael Cain has taught at Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory, the University of Minnesota and Brandon University in Manitoba. He has performed, toured and recorded with many jazz greats and recorded several albums as leader including the 1996 ECM release “Circa”; his latest, “Hoo Doo,” came out in 2018. Cain earned a 2006 Grammy nomination for “Dance of the Infidel” with Meshell N’degeocello.

Krysta “K. Raydio” Rayford
Photo by Nancy Musinguzi
Krysta “K. Raydio” Rayford
Krysta “K. Raydio” Rayford is a singer/songwriter, producer and teaching artist who incorporates social justice topics into her art and her work. In 2014, she was a featured performing artist at the Soundset Music Festival. She has taught for Minneapolis Public Schools, Kulture Klub Collaborative, Twin Cities Mobile Jazz, She Rock She Rock and Beats By Girlz MN, an organization that empowers women in sound production. Her latest recording is “…And the World Weeps” with Shrimpnose.

Isaac Rohr earned his MFA in music composition and experimental sound practices from CalArts. He has spent his life studying, performing and creating electronic music, jazz, classical new music, world music, audiovisual art, installations, 3D art, games and beats. As an artist, he uses his fractured identity, neurodivergence and “anti-post-de”-colonial theory to create dissertations on the state of the human race and himself within it.

Isaac Rohr
Isaac Rohr

On Saturday, March 13, Cain, Rayford and Rohr will perform their first concert in MacPhail’s Spotlight Series. This will also be the first time a Spotlight Series concert has focused entirely on electronic music. The program will feature four original works. Cain’s “Chromatopia” starts with acoustic piano, then journeys through electronic worlds of colors and soundscapes. Rayford’s “Faces” is an experimental soul montage incorporating hip-hop and electronic music. Rohr’s “gg_932” is a meditative audiovisual work that encourages reflection and trance states.

The final work, “Time Moves,” will be a conversation among all three artists over a sample loop created by Rohr and Rayford’s drum beats. Mischa Santora, artistic director of the Spotlight Series, promises that the artists will also “share their personal journeys and connections to MacPhail and the greater Twin Cities’ arts community.”

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If you can’t catch “The Shape of Waves” when it premieres on Saturday, you can stream it on demand another time. No tickets or registration needed.

Review: ‘My Rembrandt’

Let’s make one thing clear from the start. By “My Rembrandt,” filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk doesn’t mean “My Favorite Painting by Rembrandt” or “My Idea of Rembrandt” or “My Childhood Friend Whose Parents Named Him Rembrandt.” She means, exclusively, “People Who Own Rembrandts.”

We meet several in “My Rembrandt.” They are not just like us.

There’s Richard Scott, the Duke of Buccleuch, owner of Rembrandt’s “Old Woman Reading,” who lives in a castle on 80,000 acres in Scotland. He considers the painting, one of many in his vast collection, “the most powerful presence in this house.”

There’s the French Baron Eric de Rothschild, whose antique bed in Paris was framed by two famous Rembrandts: the wedding portraits of Martin Soolsman and Oopjen Coppit, which Rembrandt painted life-size – the only ones. When the Baron put them up for sale (for 160 million Euros) to help his brother settle a tax bill, it caused an international stir. Both the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum wanted them, but neither could afford them on its own. Eventually, the two museums bought them together, pretending to be happy about the deal. “Two countries united forever. That’s us,” one diplomat says to another, wearing a chipper smile.

There’s American businessman Thomas S. Kaplan, owner of the largest private collection of Rembrandts (15) in the world. Kaplan doesn’t live with any of his Rembrandts. Unlike the Duke and the Baron, he doesn’t read beneath them or sleep between them. He loans them out to museums, removing them from the private realm to the public. Kaplan describes acquiring 10 Rembrandts in a single decade as launching “a raid on Rembrandt … At a unique moment in time, we struck.” He calls the act of collecting “really intoxicating.” After acquiring “Woman in a White Cap,” one of the first things he did was kiss the painting on the lips.

And there’s the hero/antihero of the film, Jan Six XI, a direct descendant of the first Jan Six, a friend of Rembrandt. His portrait, painted by Rembrandt, hangs in the age-old residence of the uber-aristocratic Six family in Amsterdam.

Dutch art dealer Jan Six XI with the Rembrandt he discovered.
Discours Film
Dutch art dealer Jan Six XI with the Rembrandt he discovered.
Jan Six XI is an art historian and art dealer. In 2018, he bought a painting he was certain was an as-yet-undiscovered Rembrandt, the first “new” Rembrandt in 40 years. Having “Portrait of a Young Gentleman” authenticated became more about proving himself a worthy Six than proving the painting a real Rembrandt. In XI’s words: “As a boy from the Six family, I was always treated like ‘Little Jan has it easy.’ So little Jan worked five times harder than all the others and he was proved right. That is the story.” It’s not the whole story, however.

“My Rembrandt” isn’t only about the art of the fabulously wealthy. You will never in your life get as close to a Rembrandt – several, in fact – as you will in this film. Close enough to count the threads on the canvas, to watch the small, sharp knife of a restorer lift a tiny curl of paint, to gasp as a restorer sweeps a brush across a painted face and hundreds of years of smoke and grime are suddenly gone. The cinematography is spectacular.

There’s even a glimpse of our own “Lucretia,” part of Mia’s collection. We’re not quite sure what she’s doing in this film, but it’s fun to see her.

“My Rembrandt” is available to stream on demand from MSP Film’s Virtual Cinema through next Thursday, March 18. FMI and tickets ($9/$12). We found it so fascinating we watched it twice.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

V Streaming tonight (Wednesday, March 10) at 6:30 p.m. CST: Maria Schneider Conducts the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra. The Minnesota-born composer, leader of her own jazz orchestra and winner of five Grammy Awards (she’s up for two more at this Sunday’s ceremony), spent three days last week working with students in the jazz department. Recorded on March 4 for one-time-only broadcast tonight, this concert features Schneider leading the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a program of her compositions including “The Pretty Road,” “Data Lords,” “Walking by Flashlight,” “Sputnik” and more. Free on the NEC website.

V Livestreaming Thursday, March 11, 7 p.m.: Twin Cities Jazz Festival: Jazz Fest Live: Atlantis Quartet. Formed in 2006, solid from the start, Atlantis Quartet – Brandon Wozniak on saxophones, Zacc Harris on guitar, Chris Bates on bass, Pete Hennig on drums – is firmly established on the Twin Cities scene as a band with its own clear sound and identity. Yet they keep evolving, committed to playing their own music and growing together as improvisors and composers. They’ve released five albums so far, all available on Harris’ Shifting Paradigm Records label. Enjoy this great band as they stream live from the Dakota’s stage. 7 p.m. Free with registration.

Jay Owen Eisenberg
Courtesy of Theater Latté Da
Jay Owen Eisenberg
V Streaming on demand, Thursday, March 11 through Aug. 31: Theater Latté Da: The Ghostlight Series: “Re-Cast.” Latté Da’s virtual cabaret, “The Ghostlight Series: Stories and Songs in the Meantime,” began in February with Regina Marie Williams’ “Twelve Blocks From Where I Live,” her response in songs and photographs to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. It continues Thursday with “Re-Cast,” an intriguing idea brought to life by a cast of actors that includes Jay Owen Eisenberg, John Jamison, Nora Montañez, Sarah Ochs, Tod Petersen and Evan Tyler Wilson. Each was given the chance to sing a song they have always wanted to sing. All were invited to tell their own stories. Curated by Kelly Foster Warder, with music direction by Jason Hansen. FMI and tickets ($75 season pass, good for all five shows).

A scene from “Dolly Parton and Friends: 50 Years at the Grand Ol’ Opry.”
Screen shot
A scene from “Dolly Parton and Friends: 50 Years at the Grand Ol’ Opry.”
V On your teevee and your devices, Saturday, March 13, 8 p.m.: TPT 2: “Dolly Parton and Friends: 50 Years at the Grand Ol’ Opry.” One evening, five decades of hits, with guests including Emmylou Harris and Toby Keith. Parton deserves the label “Living Legend,” and did you know she was one of the major funders for Moderna’s COVID vaccine? Last week, when she got her first of two shots (she called it “a taste of her own medicine”), she also put new lyrics to “Jolene,” one of her best known songs: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine/I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate/Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine/Because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late.” Watch on your TV or the PBS video app.

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