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Starting to look forward again; CTC’s laugh-out-loud ‘Audrey Saves the Universe’

ALSO: SPCO presents “Bach, Cuong, Frank and Mozart”; Westminster Town Hall Forum presents the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III; and more.

The Minnesota Beethoven Festival Season will feature violinist Grace Park on July 15.
The Minnesota Beethoven Festival Season will feature violinist Grace Park on July 15.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival

With the planned lifting of COVID restrictions and the growing numbers of vaccinated Minnesotans, thinking ahead no longer seems wishful. We can actually start looking forward to live performances again. There’s excitement in the air, and hope. Can you feel it? Meanwhile, do what Secrets of the City says: “Feel free to take your time with re-entry so you don’t go in too fast and get the social bends.”

Sunday, June 27, through Thursday, July 15: 2021: Minnesota Beethoven Festival Season. Each year but one for the past 15 years, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival has drawn world-class artists to scenic Winona on the Mississippi River. (Joshua Bell was one of the artists canceled last year by COVID.) When the festival pulled the plug on 2020, planning for 2021 was already complete, and here is the line-up for the 14th season: June 27: Pacifica String Quartet; June 29: Adam Golka, piano; July 2: Manhattan Chamber Players; July 6: American String Quartet; July 8: Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ); July 11: Marc-André Hamelin, piano; July 13: Chanticleer; July 15: Grace Park, violin. Ticketing information will be announced in the coming weeks at the festival’s website.

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Saturday and Sunday, July 10 and 11: Northrop: ABT Across America at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The American Ballet Theatre was originally part of Northrop’s 2020-21 season, announced in August last year. They were scheduled for April 7 for a hybrid in-person/livestreamed performance at Northrop of “Don Quixote.” That was canceled in January – but they’ll be here in July as part of an 8-city U.S. tour, a grand road trip of 20 dancers and 28 crew in six sleeper buses and three production trucks. They’ll perform outdoors at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on a custom built 40′ x 76′ stage that folds out of an 18-wheeler.

The 50-minute, no-intermission, mixed-repertory program will include Lauren Lovette’s “La Follia Variations,” Jessica Lang’s “Let Me Sing Forevermore,” Darrell Grand Moultrie’s “Indestructible Light,” and the pas de deux from the full-length ballet “Don Quixote.”

An scene from Darrell Grand Moultrie’s “Indestructible Light.”
Todd Rosenberg Photography
An scene from Darrell Grand Moultrie’s “Indestructible Light.”

Performances will take place at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday, with July 12 set aside as a rain date.

A presale to current ticket holders, subscribers and donors will start Thursday, May 20. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Monday, May 24, at noon.

Friday, July 30, through Sunday, August 22: Lakes Area Music Festival. This will be a big year for LAMF. After defying COVID (responsibly) in 2020 by filming a series of new small-ensemble performances at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd, then making them available on Facebook, YouTube, and Classical MPR’s website, the festival will present a hybrid in-person/livestreamed season of 11 concerts and recitals; its first music director, German conductor Christian Reif; and a long-awaited move into the new, state-of-the-art Brainerd Performing Arts Center.

The Lakes Area Music Festival's new music director, Christian Reif.
Courtesy of the artist
The Lakes Area Music Festival's new music director, Christian Reif.
The season is called New Roots, and it looks amazing: a dialogue between present and past, featuring diverse voices and experiences. (It begins with Reif leading a string orchestra and violin soloist Itamar Zorman in Max Richter’s “The Four Seasons Recomposed,” a contemporary take on Vivaldi.) Here’s the season, with some programs TBA. Reservations begin in early June. Most events are free.

The picks

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

Autumn Ness as Audrey and Reed Sigmund as her cousin Kyle in "Audrey Saves the Universe."
Courtesy of the Children’s Theatre Company
Autumn Ness as Audrey and Reed Sigmund as her cousin Kyle in "Audrey Saves the Universe."
V Available now: Children’s Theatre Company: “Audrey Saves the Universe.” Created by CTC acting company members and real-life couple Autumn Ness and Reed Sigmund, filmed mostly in their house and yard, “Audrey Saves the Universe” is charming, adorable, laugh-out-loud funny and wise. Ness wrote it, Sigmund directed it, and both star in it, while their children make brief appearances and their dog ends up in a key role, mainly because they were all stuck at home together. Ness plays Audrey, a smart, resourceful 9-year-old who’s making a movie in her room. Sigmund is Kyle, Audrey’s 8-year-old cousin, whose main talent is a generalized amiability. They are hilarious, the dog (a plump, implacable pug) is hilarious, all the costumes and props look as though they were made from things lying around Ness and Sigmund’s house, and the story – about creativity, imagination, and makin’ stuff instead of hatin’ stuff – rings true. “Art and creativity became a lifeline for people in our isolated time,” Sigmund said during an Instagram Live event, but aren’t they always? The story is told in seven bite-sized on-demand episodes of about 10 min. each. FMI and tickets (pay-what-you-will starting at $15). All ages. Through May 28.

V Tonight (Friday, May 7), 7 p.m.: Birchbark Books: “An Indian Among Los Indígenas” with Ursula Pike. In her new memoir, Pike explores what it means to be both colonizer and colonized. Free with registration.

V Saturday, May 8, 8 p.m.: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: “Bach, Cuong, Frank and Mozart.” A livestream from the Ordway Concert Hall of music by Bach (“Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3), Mozart (Divertimento in B-flat for Two Horns and Strings), and works by contemporary composers Gabriela Lena Frank (“Leyendas/Legends: An Andean Walkabout” for String Quartet) and Viet Cuong, whose “Circling Back” for Oboe and Cello will be the world premiere of an SPCO commission. Featuring James Ferree and Matthew Wilson on horn, hosted by Cassie Pilgrim. Free. Watch at the SPCO’s online Concert Library. Can’t do Saturday? Tune into the rebroadcast on Thursday, May 13, at 7 p.m. P.S. The readers of the Minnesota Women’s Press just voted the SPCO’s Concert Library as their favorite Minnesota livestreaming music venue of 2021.

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V Saturday, May 8, 8 p.m.: Jazz Central Studios: Peter Kogan Quintet. Kogan spent many years as principal timpani with the Minnesota Orchestra, performing around the state with the Minnesota Orchestra Jazz Band. In 2019, after retiring from the orchestra, he turned more fully toward jazz and has released two albums so far, “Some Monsterful Wonderthing” and “The Green Album.” He’s thrilled to be playing with his quintet – Omar Abdulkarim on trumpet, Pete Whitman on sax, Abebi Stafford on piano, Chris Bates on bass, himself on drums – for the first time in many months. The livestream will be free. FMI and link.

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
V Tuesday, May 11, 12 noon: Westminster Town Hall Forum: The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, “Life, Liberation, and Community.” Second in a series of four weekly talks called “The Arc Toward Justice: Taking Stock One Year After George Floyd’s Death.” Senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Moss led the team that created the “My Life Matters” curriculum after Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police. Free. Arrive online at 11:45 and see James Sewell Ballet dancers Da’Rius Malone and Ashley Chin-Clark present solos and a duet commissioned for this event. Watch here or on the Forum’s Facebook page. Like all Forums, this will also be archived for future viewing.