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Longtime St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Romuald Tecco, in a Jan. 2 letter to SPCO management, called the board's leadership in the current labor dispute "a disgrace and a shame." Tecco, who retired in 1998 after 26 years at the orchestra, described the lockout as "blackmail" and announced he was removing from his will a hefty bequeathal to the SPCO. Tecco wrote to president and board chair Dobson West, saying that "upon my death and that of my partner, the sum of $350,000 [would] go to the orchestra to create a fund to commission a new piece by an emerging young American composer. ... Should I and my partner die tomorrow, I certainly would not want that gift to reward the kind of institution you are now leading and are trying your best to bastardize." Tecco added that he might reinstate the provision in his will "when I am satisfied with the way this sad situation is resolved." So much for the notion of the low-key violinist.
CLAUDE PECKCali casual
It may be the off-season for Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, but that doesn't mean he should look like he just left the gym when he's making an appearance on national TV. For his guest stint Tuesday on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," Kluwe chose a stocking cap, T-shirt, jeans and sandals. The casual look did match the conversation with host Stephen Colbert, who referenced the Vikings' loss to the Green Bay Packers as a game in which "you got your lutefisk handed to you." From there, Kluwe went into his part-time job of social commentator, supporting gay rights and gun control to Colbert's faux conversative persona. Colbert ended the interview by describing Kluwe as a player from the Minnesota Vikings "and a lot of editorial pages." Yes, but not a lot of fashion shows.
NEAL JUSTINSome critical love
Emily Johnson can add another bit of prestigious recognition to her growing stack -- a write-up in the New York Times' Sunday Arts section. Johnson will stage and perform her new work "Niicugni (Listen)" at the O'Shaughnessy in St. Paul on April 21, but New York dance fans will get to see it this week at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The piece is a follow-up to "The Thank-You Bar," and the second in a planned trilogy exploring the former Alaskan's Yupik roots, wrote Gia Kourlas in the Times. Working at Birchbark Books, Louise Erdrich's Kenwood bookstore featuring American Indian writers, Johnson researched her own heritage, and the new work was inspired by what she found. The music for "Niicugni" (pronounced nee-CHOOG-nee) was composed by her husband, James Everest, and she'll perform it with Aretha Aoki.
KRISTIN TILLOTSONUnfaithful 'Servant'
"Servant of Two Masters" at the Guthrie is chockablock with locally focused jokes like "Chanhassen is my safe word," but it's particularly naughty when poking at its host. Just as "The Simpsons" regularly disses the network on which it airs, Fox, "Servant" star Steve Epp twice tweaks the Guthrie's own season, first with a sneering reference to the idea of "sitting through 38 years of 'Christmas Carols'" and then calling the play opening on another Guthrie stage this weekend "Long Day's Journey Into Nap." He's also doing his darnedest to stay topical. Since burst pipes flooded the area last week and a performance had to be canceled, he now utters the line, "I was just kayaking down Hennepin."
KRISTIN TILLOTSONPianist and his iPad
At Tuesday's Schubert Club recital at St. Paul's Ordway Center, audience members were intrigued that pianist Inon Barnatan read music not from a printed score but by peering into an iPad and turning the "pages" with a wireless foot pedal. He played to a nearly full hall with fellow thirty-something Alisa Weilerstein, who tossed her hair like an '80s rocker, but wore a satin strapless floor-length gown in a rich eggplant hue. The dynamic duo ripped through music of Beethoven, Barber, Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff. In an unusual move, they chose to repeat one part of the Rach Sonata in G Minor as their encore. Meanwhile, Apple, thanks for putting a perfectly qualified human page turner out of work.
CLAUDE PECKSinging for Slim
After sorting through lots of logistics, New West Records plans to release the Replacements reunion EP benefiting stroke-stricken Slim Dunlap next week, starting with the auctioning of 250 limited editions of the five-song collection. "Not quite written in stone yet, but the auction should start Jan. 15 and will run for 10 days," reports New West VP Peter Jesperson, the former Replacements manager spearheading the project. The auction will be held via the "Songs for Slim" website on eBay. Once the auction ends, New West will release the EP to radio outlets and digital service providers, and then print vinyl versions for mass distribution. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson recorded four songs together for their EP, with Peter Anderson on drums and Kevin Bowe on backup guitar. Original 'Mats drummer Chris Mars contributed the fifth track on the EP -- and designed the cover artwork. Other entries in the "Songs for Slim" series will start rolling out in February, with other singers covering Dunlap's songs as monthly split 7-inch singles. The first will be Steve Earle doing "Times Like This" b/w Craig Finn's "Isn't It?" Other participants include Lucinda Williams, Tommy Keene, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Jakob Dylan, John Doe, the Jayhawks, Joe Henry and Curtiss A.