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‘Midwinter’ heats up with plethora of weekend events

There’s flamenco happening in St. Paul at Park Square, and gallery reception happening at Macalester with four really interesting artists that are looking at history and memory in unusual ways.

Celebrate the beginning of Francophonie Month at Alliance Française with a concert by Congolese musician Siama Matuzungidi.
Celebrate the beginning of Francophonie Month at Alliance Française with a concert by Congolese musician Siama Matuzungidi.
Courtesy of Alliance Française

Congratulations.

We’ve gotten past the direst cold months and welcome a reprieve as we officially enter “midwinter.” That’s right, we’re not at spring yet, but it’s all a bit more tolerable. Treat yourself as we enter this new era. Perhaps a visit to the Midwinter Folk Festival at the American Swedish Institute, the spring Witness: Rejoice Concert that VocalEssence puts together or take in some experimental dance and performance at the Cowles Center. There’s flamenco happening in St. Paul at Park Square, and gallery reception happening at Macalester with four really interesting artists that are looking at history and memory in unusual ways. It’s also Francophonie Month so you can practice your French at Alliance Française with a concert by Congolese musician Siama Matuzungidi.

Siama Matuzungidi – Traditional Concert

Celebrate the beginning of Francophonie Month (Mois de la Francophonie) at Alliance Française with a concert by Congolese musician Siama Matuzungidi. Culminating in International Francophonie Day (Journée internationale de la Francophonie) on March 20, Mois de la Francophonie celebrates French language and Francophone culture all over the world. Matuzungidi got his start as a musician in 1971, in what is now The Democratic Republic of Congo. Early in his career, he became known for playing the soukous genre, a kind of dance music that’s sometimes called African rumba. In recent years, he’s taken a newfound interest in more traditional polyrhythms and harmonies of traditional African music. Friday’s concert will boast music, dancing, food and more in a celebration of the DR Congo. 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday at Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul ($20 for non-members). More information here.

Trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn player, recording artist and composer, Oskar Stenmark, will be headlining at this year’s Midwinter Folks Festival
Courtesy of the American Swedish Institute
Trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn player, recording artist and composer, Oskar Stenmark, will be headlining at this year’s Midwinter Folks Festival.

Midwinter Folk Festival

Trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn player, recording artist and composer, Oskar Stenmark, will be headlining at this year’s Midwinter Folks Festival at the American Swedish Institute, performing at noon on Saturday, and leading a workshop at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Swedish artist, based in New York, has performed with the likes of David Byrne, Chris Potter and Grammy-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra. He’s trained in jazz and looks to the roots of Scandinavian folks music for his unique sound. Besides Stenmark, the festival has concerts taking place all day in Larson Hall, pop-up performances around the museum, jam sessions and workshop sessions for strings, nyckelharpa, dulcimer and more. There will also be crafts, food from FIKA Café and bonfires. It all takes place 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the American Swedish Institute ($75 full weekend, $40 single day, $25 virtual). More information here.

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Carriers for Posterity reception and artist talk

At Law Warschaw Gallery, located at Macalester College, curator Jehra Patrick has organized an exhibition of artists that place them in the position of being auto-ethnographers. That is, they are mining objects, memories, images and dreams through their own memories and their family histories. Works in the show include a sculptural piece by Jovan C. Speller made of salt, used as a symbol of the danger of forgetting. Alexa Horochowski, meanwhile has an installation that looks like weighted-down mobiles, curious objects made of detached body parts and other objects, and a banner that depicts in its imagery a hand holding onto a bouquet of pea flowers, reflecting on a moment of stillness. Stop by the reception on Friday from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., which includes a talk at 7 p.m. with Patrick and the artists I just mentioned, as well as Rotem Tamir and Maggie Thompson. Essayist Erin Gleeson will also join the conversation. It takes place at Law Warschaw Gallery (free). More information here.

A scene from “Casita.”
Courtesy of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre
A scene from “Casita.”

Casita

Zorongo Flamenco revisits a work that premiered in 2019 called “Casita,” created in response from Artistic Director Susana di Palma’s volunteering in a homeless shelter. Di Palma performs in the work along with Jeanne d’Arc Casas from Spain, with live flamenco, jazz and gospel music musicians. Among them are flamenco guitarist Ben Abrahamson and jazz pianist Billy Steele. Jose Moreno provides flamenco percussion and singing, while gospel singer Tonia Hughes lends her voice to the performance as well. It takes 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Park Square Theatre ($28). More information here.

Merges in March

The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts brings back its “Merges in March” series, pairing dance artists in collaborative performances. For the first weekend, Valerie Oliveiro teams up with Chitra Vairavan, a dancer/choreographer who makes embodied, sometimes ritualistic performance, employing her background in yoga and contemporary Indian dance. Oliveiro draws on improvisational movement into her thoughtful, often conceptual experimentations. Both artists are Asian American – Vairavan’s ancestry is Tamil from South India, and Oliveiro was born in Singapore. The two have been coming together for a year as they share practices, conversations and aspects of their Asian American identities for a piece that looks at the serendipity and points of juncture in cross-cultural performance. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Cowles Center ($20-25, $15 streaming.) More information here.

Aeolians, the world-renowned choir from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.
Courtesy of VocalEssence
Aeolians, the world-renowned choir from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

Witness 2022: Rejoice!

World-renowned choir, The Aeolians, from the Historical Black College and University, Oakwood University, joins VocalEssence and Singers of this Age for a program centered around Black joy and resilience. Leading the Aeolians group is its longtime conductor Max Ferdinand, an  Aeolian himself in his college days, who led the choir to be named “Choir of the World” in 2017 at the World Choir Games. After live-streaming a young people’s concert on Friday morning for students, the in-person public performance takes place at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Orchestra Hall ($10-40). More information here.