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Weekend picks: From Bach to ‘Breathe,’ local offerings provide opportunity for renewal

Plus: the Bossa Nova Trio at Icehouse, The Singers’ “Considering Matthew Shepard,” Robin Wall Kimmerer at Northrop, and zAmya Theater Project’s dialogue on health care and homelessness.

Ashawnti Sakina Ford, creator of “Breathe: A Ritual to Undo”
Ashawnti Sakina Ford, creator of “Breathe: A Ritual to Undo”
Photo by Kim Alexis Photography

Art can heal. It’s not the same kind of healing you get in a hospital, but there is a certain power in the kind of healing you get from a piece of theater that rejuvenates you, from musicians that bring life to your spirit and from works that take difficult subjects and find moments of redemption and rejuvenation through the journey.

If you’re in need of a refresher, head to the Capri this weekend for Ashawnti Sakina Ford’s new theatrical ritual, or delve into the darkest places searching for light in “Considering Matthew Shepard,” put on by The Singers. Next Wednesday, discover ways that theater can offer solutions to social issues like mental health and homelessness when zAmya performs at the downtown Minneapolis library. Other picks this week offer simply a lift to your spirit through beautiful music, like the Bach Society of Minnesota presenting the “B Minor Mass,” or the Bossa Nova Trio dancing up your dinner at Icehouse with Brazilian sounds. Wherever this week takes you, look for ways that the arts can soothe, stir and offer renewed awakening.

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“Breathe: A Ritual to Undo”

Ashawnti Sakina Ford’s ritual performance piece, “Breathe: A Ritual to Undo,” offers a moment of pause at the Paradise Community Hall at the Capri Theater. Before the show, the Million Artists Movement will be on hand with quilting art activities, followed by a piece commissioned by Exposed Brick Theatre as part of a series of eight new plays developed in 2020. Antonio Duke directs, with original music by Umar Malik. Quilting at 6:30 p.m., performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13 & Saturday, May 14, 1 p.m./2 p.m. Sunday, May 15 ($0-20). More information here.

BSM Singers and Orchestra
The Bach Society of Minnesota
BSM Singers and Orchestra

Bach in B Minor

Celebrating 90 years since it began as a student ensemble at the University of Minnesota, the Bach Society of Minnesota presents its first-ever Minnesota Bach Festival. The celebration of the great classical composer began earlier this month when the society collaborated with Cantus for an evening of choral music themed around the stories of medieval German trickster Till Eulenspiegel. This weekend’s festivities start out on Friday with a livestream concert, “Joyful Baroque” in collaboration with violin, cello and harpsichord trio the Flying Forms, plus violinist Kangwon Kim for a program of sonatas and trio sonatas by Bach and Handel. Then on Saturday night, the Bach Society takes on Bach’s masterpiece: the B Minor Mass, completed a year before he died. Matthias Maute will conduct the concert, with the BSM Singers and Orchestra performing. Then on Sunday, the society hosts Bach & Brunch: A Festival Gala at Summit Manor Reception House. Next week, watch out for the free Mobile Mini-Concerts around the Twin Cities May 18-22. Saturday’s concert, on May 14 at the Ordway, starts at 7:30 p.m. ($35). More information about the festival here.

Bossa Nova Trio
Courtesy of Icehouse
Bossa Nova Trio

Bossa Nova Trio

Tap into the syncopated rhythms of Brazil when the Bossa Nova Trio takes the stage at Icehouse for a dinner and music event. The New Standards’ vibraphonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Roehm joins singer-songwriter and dancer Natania Kamin and jazz guitarist Pavel Jany, founder of Ticket to Brazil, for bossa nova classics, new Brazilian music, and original tunes.

6-8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Icehouse ($15 table reservation fee). More information here.

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‘Considering Matthew Shepard’

The Singers take on the powerful three-part fusion oratorio, “Considering Matthew Shepard,” about the 1998 hate crime against the University of Wyoming student, who was beaten, tortured and left to die for being gay. The piece has Minnesota connections, as it was composed by Craig Hella Johnson, originally from Minnesota. He co-created the libretto with local poet Michael Dennis Browne, using texts by Hildegard of Bingen, Leslйa Newman and Rumi, and passages from Shepard’s journal. Additional text in the work is drawn from interviews and writings from Shepard’s parents and news clippings. Weaving together Bach’s passions, musical theater, gospel and blues, Johnson’s music takes listeners on the journey of Shepard’s tragedy through to themes of redemption and forgiveness. In the performance, a video by Elliott Forrest will accompany the choir and small orchestra. 3 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at Ted Mann Concert Hall ($30 in advance, $35 at the door). More information here.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer
Photo by Matt Roth
Robin Wall Kimmerer
“Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” author Robin Wall Kimmerer visits Northrop on Tuesday. She’ll be holding a conversation about kinship and storytelling with Diane Wilson, who just won the Minnesota Book Award for “The Seed Keeper.” The two Native authors (Wall Kimmerer is Potawatomi and Wilson is Dakota) will share their wisdom in what is sure to be a wonderful conversation. Audience Q&A follows and books will be available. 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at Northrop auditorium and virtual ($12). More information here.

A scene from “Locked In: A Theatrical Dialogue on Healthcare and Homelessness.”
zAmya Theater Project
A scene from “Locked In: A Theatrical Dialogue on Healthcare and Homelessness.”

‘Locked In: A Theatrical Dialogue on Healthcare and Homelessness’

Also next week, zAmya Theater Project holds a one-performance only event of their new show, “Locked In: A Theatrical Dialogue on Healthcare and Homelessness.” The piece was created using a Theatre of the Oppressed approach, developed by Brazilian Agosto Boal. Specifically, the technique is called Forum Theater, where audience become active participants in the theatrical work. Taking on systemic oppression within the health care system, the piece couldn’t come at a more important time — when evictions in Minnesota were 60 percent higher in April than the average April number prior to the pandemic, and the rates of “deaths of despair” continue to rise for homeless populations. Created in partnership with the Campaign Against Racism (CAR), zAmya works with professional artists as well as actors who either are or have been unhoused to create their work. 6-7:30 p.m Wednesday, May 18, at the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis, Pohlad Hall (free). More information here.