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Burt Hara, the principal clarinetist, has resigned from the Minnesota Orchestra. Hara had led the clarinet section in Minnesota since 1987 until he took a position as associate principal with the Los Angeles Philharmonic last May. He grew up in California.
Orchestra musicians apply for a year's leave of absence when they go to another ensemble, in case they wish to return. For example, Hara took a position as principal with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1996 and returned to Minnesota after a year.
Hara, 51, had requested, and was granted, a one-year extension from Minnesota in February. He told the orchestra at the time that he expected to make a decision sooner than 2015. He notified the orchestra this week and the players were informed on Thursday.
When he took the L.A. position last May, Hara said he was looking forward to working with conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the charismatic leader of the Philharmonic. "It's time to look to the next chapter," he said at the time.
In a letter to musicians, Hara said he decided not to return because he believes "the current leadership does not have the vision to restore the Orchestra to its place among the great orchestras of the world."
In a statement, the orchestra said: "Burt Hara is an outstanding clarinetist and we thank him for his many years of service and contributions in Minnesota. He will be greatly missed. We wish him and his family the very best on their new lives in southern California."
Orchestra spokesperson Gwen Pappas said that of eight musicians who requested leaves of absence in 2012-13, four have elected to return to the orchestra -- Ken Freed, David Pharris, Robert Dorer and Tim Zavadil. Three still have time left on their leaves -- Tom Turner, Michael Gast and Peter McGuire. Gina diBello resigned to take a position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Stephanie Arado left outright for a teaching position at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.
SXSW entered its third day on a somber note, as news of the wee-hour fatal car rampage came more to light. A few day parties near the sight of the incident were canceled. Organizers of the music conference quickly set up a fundraiser effort for the victims. They and police kept festival goers and Austinites informed. By mid-afternoon, though, things were mostly back to usual, with the occasional moment of silence being asked for at gigs – Houston’s Wild Moccasins even made their moment a full minute of silence. Here’s more of what we took in Thursday:
BEST OF THE DAY: As was forecast in my SXSW bands-to-watch preview, psychedelic Japanese punk band Bo Ningen provided a riotous kick to the fest with an intensity not seen elsewhere at SXSW besides the few metal showcases. The wild-eyed quartet (now based in London) kicked off its first showcase of the week on the east side of I-35 at the Vegas Hotel’s patio -- a booking just begging for noise complaints.
By the second song, “Haken,” the band was furiously bouncing around the stage in unison to its roller-coastery waves of reverberating guitar noise and pulsating rhythms. Singer/bassist Taigen Kawabe led the charge with a manic, sometimes cackle-like vocal style and dramatic, wild-eyed gestures that included a tear through the middle of the crowd near the end of the set, .
BIGGEST LETDOWN: In terms of the venue, Thursday’s second of two big SXSW gigs by Blur frontman Damon Albarn was through the roof. No really: The gig was the first in three nights of “Guitar Center Sessions” TV tapings atop a five-story parking garage in downtown Austin. The city’s skyline – rife with new condo towers and construction cranes nowadays – provided an impressive backdrop for the session, although Albarn seemed to take umbrage with one major entity looming across the street.
“We’re gonna perform for you tonight under the benign presence of Chase Manhattan,” he wryly joked of a neighboring office tower with the baking giant logo on top.
Unfortunately, Albarn himself never rose to the occasion. Playing songs from his new solo album, “Everyday Robots,” he and his otherwise terrific band stayed in a mid-tempo rut for most of the shows. Too many of the songs limply plodded along, including the title track, while “Heavy Sea of Love” boasted an awkwardly tuned sound. Even the older tune “Tomorrow Comes Today” lacked the funky zest of the original, by Albarn’s other group, Gorillaz.
The other, more minor letdown Thursday was the late-night set by New Jeresey quartet Real Estate, which seems poised to become a top-tier indie-rock act this year with the release of its third album, “Atlas.” As lovely as the new songs are on record, though, with their Luna/VU-style hazy-sun guitar interludes, the band still lacks luster on stage.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: It probably shouldn’t have come as a shock having seen her conquer Twin Cities audiences over the past year, but Lizzo’s official SXSW showcase at the North Door was an eye-opening moment. Playing to a nearly full crowd inside one of the bigger venues east of the Interstate, the Minneapolis rapper sparked a rowdy dance party with “Batches & Cookies” and other songs from last year’s “Lizzobangers” album. The high-profile gig proved her buzz is catching on elsewhere. Granted, about 80 percent of all the Twin Cities musicians in Austin for SXSW were at the gig, which was part of the Totally Gross National Product showcase (also featuring Marijuana Deathsquads, Har Mar Superstar, the Cloak Ox and Pony Bwoy). But the Minnesotans were just a small part of the overall crowd -- and in true Minnesota fasion they weren’t the ones dancing the wildest.
BEST ‘HOW DID I GET HERE?’ MOMENT: Playing the role of Young New Guy with all the humility he can muster (which is a lot), Jeremy Messersmith sat in on a noontime SXSW panel at the Austin convention center alongside indie-rock big-wigs Bob Mould, Britt Daniel (Spoon), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate). The title of the discussion was “Warehouse: Songs & Stories,” named after the last record by Mould’s band Hüsker Dü, and true to the ad the guys all offered songs and stories. Mould played a touching new one called “The War.” Messersmith delivered “Steve” after explaining it was inspired by a homophobic blog post that read, “God didn’t make Adam and Steve” (Mould visibly enjoyed both the song and the story).
Given the chance to ask his more experienced co-panelists a question at the end, Messersmith asked if they approach songwriting as a “disciplined, everyday thing.” Mould answered in the affirmative: “You should be very grateful that this is what you get to do with your life, and you don’t want to let it rust.”
See a full photo gallery from Tuesday at startribune.com/sxsw.
Jill Gardner as Tosca in a still from Boston Lyric Opera. Photo by Jeffrey Dunn.
For its third season of outdoor, summertime opera, Mill City Summer Opera has chosen to stage "Tosca," the Puccini tearjerker, with Jill Gardner in the title role. Artistic director David Lefkowich will direct a staging set in the 1940s, and Brian DeMaris will be the show's music director.
Other cast members include Jake Gardner (Scarpia) and Dinyar Vania (Cavaradossi).
As usual, Mill City will stage the opera outdoors in the Mill City Museum's Ruin Courtyard. The past two seasons ("Pagliacci" and "The Barber of Seville") have mostly sold out, so this is a hot ticket. Tickets to the opening night are on sale now; tickets for six scheduled performances July 12-22, go on sale in mid-May at 612-875-5544, or the opera's website.
Star Tribune photos by Jeff Wheeler
Miley Cyrus announced that she wasn’t feeling well (for a change, she didn’t give TMI) but she certainly rallied for a hearty performance Monday at the X.
As my review indicated, she’s a little short on material but long on show-womanship.
A few more thoughts about Miley at the X:
Here is Miley’s set list from Monday:
SMS (Bangerz)/ 4X4/ Love Money Party/ My Darlin’/ Maybe You’re Right/ FU/ Do My Thang/ Get It Right/ Can’t Be Tamed/ metal musical interlude/ Adore You/ Drive/ Rooting for My Baby/ semi-acoustic set on satellite stage in bowl end: It Ain’t Me Babe (Bob Dylan)/ Ruler of My Heart (Linda Ronstadt)/ Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Ray)/ Hey Ya (OutKast)/ Jolene (Dolly Parton)/ back to mainstage 23/ On My Own/ Someone Else ENCORE 1 We Can’t Stop/ Wrecking Ball ENCORE 2 Party in the USA
Among the myriad of Twitter feuds you never thought you would see, the odd case of mouthy Twin Cities rapper Prof vs. hunky “Full House” and "ER" actor John Stamos might take the cake.
After two years of ironic, stalkerly tweets essentially trying to get a rise out of Stamos, Prof finally got his attention in a big way. The tipping point was a tweet sent a couple months ago that apparently suggested the actor famous for his “uncle” character is into children in a perverted way. Prof actually doesn’t remember sending the tweet and can’t find it now – “Let’s face it: I was probably drunk,” the rapper said – but Stamos certainly did remember it. He sent out several vehement tweets on the matter Thursday.
“U do pediphile [sic] jokes I’ll kill you,” read one of the messages from the @JohnStamos account, which has nearly 1.4 million followers (compared to almost 15,000 for @Profstophouse; though that number could very well be going up today).
Here are some of the other more colorful tweets sent out during the fracas, including one of several deleted from the Stamos account but captured by Prof on Instagram.
All I ask is that you pray for me and @johnstamos. This doesn't have to be the end!— Prof (@Profgampo) March 7, 2014
TRUTH is I have a relationship w johnstamos. Its been hectic lately & Im TERRIFIED Im going to lose… http://t.co/gAyDrzwVYg— Prof (@Profgampo) March 7, 2014
In the end, Prof and Stamos finally connected by phone late Thursday night and talked for about a half hour, according to Prof. It was tense at first, he said. “He told me he was lawyering up,” Prof claimed, admitting that threat scared him: “I really don’t know if I did break the law or not. Maybe.” (A legal case on the matter might have amounted to the Twitter equivalent of the Hustler Magazine v. Falwell trial.)
However, as the two got to talking, apparently things did smooth over -- at least to the point where Stamos backed off any legal threats, Prof said. The actor's New York publicist declined to verify details of the phone conversation or comment on the Twitter exchange. Stamos did confirm the phone call on Twitter. Pointing to his 28-year dedication to Phoenix-based abuse resource center Childhelp -- which he referenced in earlier tweets explaining his anger -- Stamos sent out a tweet Friday morning verifying the phone conversation, one of which read, “He apologized like a man.”
Adding to the all-out bizarreness of this feud, Prof said he and Stamos originally traded personal messages a year ago and almost met in person when Prof’s tweets first started reaching a feverish pitch. While he asked that the rapper “back off” then, Prof claimed, Stamos also apparently said he looked up Prof’s music and videos in the interim and enjoyed his work. The actor is well known to be a big music fan in general, having moonlighted often as an auxiliary percussionist for the Beach Boys. He even appeared in the memorable video for “Try to Sleep” by Duluth favorites Low.
However, Stamos was not a big enough fan of Prof to take the rapper up on a guest-list spot for the rapper’s show at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre in December 2012. Being a no-show predictably earned Stamos all the more grief from Prof’s Twitter account at the time.
Prof also sent out a conciliatory tweet this morning that read, “Had a half hour conversation w @JohnStamos. Believe it or not, he is a REAL MAN. We ironed out our differences, & are now BFFS once again.”
Talking afterward, he also applauded Stamos for "being a good sport about it and not turning it into a Hollywood lawyer thing." However, the real-life Jacob Anderson also made it clear he does not intend to stop what he called "a comical obsession” over the actor – the sort of uncomfortable, unexplainable humor that fits in well with Prof’s overall act. “My fans loved it from the start,” he said of the Twitter fixation, which from his point of view has only been upgraded to another level.
“It’s an intense relationship; we’re sort of still in the newlywed stage,” Prof quipped, adding with no sense of irony, “This is really a dream come true of mine.”
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