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Sarah Hicks extends contract with Minnesota Orchestra

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: June 18, 2014 - 1:56 PM

Conductor Sarah Hicks has agreed to extend her contract with the Minnesota Orchestra through 2016-17. Hired as principal conductor for pops and presentations in 2009, Hicks will lead the orchestra’s “Live at Orchestra Hall” series.

 

The program includes popular music, jazz, Broadway tunes, movie socres and world music. This weekend, for example, Hicks conducts the orchestra in two programs – Midtown Men and Pixar in Concert.

Hicks joined the orchestra as assistant conductor in 2006 as the first woman to hold a titled conducting post with the Minnesota Orchestra. She succeeded Doc Severinsen in the pops role.

Not-yet-open Loring Park restaurant rocks Northern Spark

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: June 12, 2014 - 6:13 PM
Black Diet. Photo by Leslie Plesser.

For serious night owls a 2 a.m. closing time is too cruel a rule. Although bars still have their normal curfew, one night per year Twin Cities culture junkies are encouraged to stay out until dawn.

The fourth annual all-night art festival Northern Spark, which last year drew 45,000 attendees, returns Saturday. From 9 p.m. until daybreak, artists of all mediums will perform and exhibit their work at locations across Minneapolis.This year's theme: “Projecting the City.”

While there is much to see and experience during the sleep-depriving arty party, anyone whose get-down urges extend passed bar close might head to Kim Bartmann’s coming-soon Loring Park restaurant, where the music won’t stop till the birds are chirping. The restaurateur behind Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl, Pat’s Tap, the newly opened Tiny Diner and more is staying tight-lipped regarding her plans for the former Cafe Maude and Nick and Eddie space at 1612 Harmon Place. But Bartmann will open its doors starting at 9 p.m. for a late night of music and performance art.

“We’re excited to bring a little bohemian life back to Loring Park,” she said.

Presented by the Bedlam Theatre and DJ Rambo Salinas, indoor performers include singer/songwriter Brian Laidlaw, who’s teaming with literary rag Paper Darts for a vaudevillian music and poetry piece, rockabilly quartet L’Assasins, energetic soul rockers Black Diet, DJs Dan McAllister of Worldwide Discotheque, Soul Togetherness’ Brenda Hernandez and Kevin Jones, and more. Outside the restaurant Lea Devon Sorrentino and Forever Young’s Chris Cloud host a silent dance party, while the Independent Filmmaker Project MN screens silent films in the alley scored live by local bands. Plus an outdoor ping pong tourney and a sunrise yoga session (see full schedule below).

Though the unnamed restaurant is still under construction, food, booze and much-needed espresso will be available. Bartmann had hoped to open before Northern Spark, but had a hiccup with an energy-inefficient back door. The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission denied her request to have the door replaced, so she essentially built a door within a door as a workaround. The restaurant is about three weeks away from opening and more details about the concept and her collaborators (which include a former Minneapolitan who’s returning after running a Brooklyn bar) will be announced next week.

Until then, tell the Sandman to shove it and enjoy the dusk-till-dawn art extravaganza.

Inside performances at 1612 Harmon Place:

9:10 p.m. Frank Theater
9:30 p.m. Paper Darts
10:20 p.m. DJ Tarik Thornton
11:20 p.m. L'Assassins
12:20 a.m. DJ Brenda Hernandez
1:30 a.m. Black Diet
2:20 a.m. DJ Dan McAllister
3:20 a.m. DJ Kevin Jones
4:20 a.m. DJ Rambo Salinas

Outside performances at 1612 Harmon Place:

9 p.m.-3 a.m. IFP MN presents Out of the Shadows - Movies & Music in the Dark (live score by local bands at the top of each hour)
9 p.m.-1 a.m. Happenstance...Negative Jam (Silent Dance Party!) by Chris Cloud & Lea Devon Sorrentino
9 p.m.-3 a.m. Ping Pong by Starlight - Register for tourney online at  http://tinyurl.com/NSpingpong or sign up on site by 10:45 p.m. (open pong before & after tourney)
5:30 a.m. Sunrise Yoga in Loring Park (located on north side of the park, across from 1612 Harmon Place)

2014 McKnight dance fellows named

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: May 30, 2014 - 2:57 PM
Sally Rousse, co-founder of James Sewell Ballet, won a 2014 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dancers. Star Tribune photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii.

The annual McKnight fellowships for dancers and choreographers were announced this week. Each midcareer artist receives $25,000.

The winning choreographers are Penelope Freeh, Wynn Fricke and Joanie Smith. The winning dancers are Sally Rousse, Kenna-Camara Cottman and Max Wirsing.

The dance fellows also can get funds to commission a choreographer of their choice to create a new solo work for them. The choreographer fellows are eligible to apply for additional support for a residency at one of four national partners.

The McKnight Fellowship winners are selected by a panel from submissions, and the program is administered by Northrop at the University of Minnesota.

On Maya Angelou's last appearance in the Twin Cities

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: May 28, 2014 - 10:53 AM

“When it looked like the sun won’t shine any more, God put a rainbow in the clouds.

Maya Angelou, who died Tuesday at 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., opened her last appearance in the Twin Cities on Oct. 23, 2012, singing those lines from an 18th-century slave song. She went on to mesmerize the crowd at the State Theatre, many of whom were devoted fans who had heard her hour-long talk before but had come again to be baptized in her sonorous words and to take bits of inspiration from her storied life.

An indefatigable fighter who also became an icon of grace, Angelou had long ago transcended the slights and horrors visited upon her as a black child in the Jim Crow South and as a woman in America. She has been a first-hand witness, confidante and participant in some of the most notable historical events of our nation as it shifted from segregation to fairness and opportunity.

She also transcended means that made her famous: her startling memoirs, her lyrical, image-rich poetry and her resonant public speaking.

She had become, for millions, a beatific figure and guiding light.

After her performance, she greeted a few well-wishers backstage at the State Theatre. The numbers were smaller than usual, at the instruction of handlers who wanted to protect her health. Angelou was a frail 84-year-old.

Still, she had a surprisingly strong handshake. And her voice also was firm, both in the performance and in the post-show encouragement she offered to well-wishers. While she could no longer move like she did as a young dancer, while she could no longer march like she did during the Civil Rights era, she still had her voice. And in her quivering and quaver, you could hear the echoes of history, and the walls that she had made come down.

“Goodbye, young man,” she said sweetly, her face almost twinkling. “I will see you again.”

Yes, indeed.

Fantasia, by way of Mary McColl

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: May 23, 2014 - 12:08 PM

In a scene that plays out often in Times Square, fans mob a stage door to get an autograph from a star. On Thursday evening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the squealing was for celebrity actor and singer Fantasia Barrino, who shot to stardom by winning "American Idol" in 2004. 

Fantasia and Dule Hill headline “After Midnight,” the sleek, sophisticated revue that orbits the music and dances of the legendary Cotton Club. (Across the street, fans also thronged the stage door of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre to see Denzel Washington, star of the revival of "A Raisin in the Sun.")

One of those pausing by Fantasia's stage door after the performance — she did not linger — was Mary McColl (bottom left), an important, if unglamorous behind-the-scenes leader in the field. She is executive director of Actors’ Equity, the century-old union of professional actors.

A longtime executive at Twin Cities arts organizations such as the Ordway Center, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Cowles Center, McColl relocated to New York in 2010 to oversee the collective bargaining process between the union and dozens of regional and national companies.

Her work is pivotal to protecting the quality of professional shows that audiences see on Broadway and throughout the country. She also advocates for the wages and working conditions of actors, stage managers and other theater professionals who are dealing with big changes.

There are more and more non-union tours on the road, some of them of high quality (one, “Bring It On: The Musical,” just played at the Ordway). Performers in non-union shows generally are paid lower than unionized actors. The union struck a deal with producers last year that included allowing reduced pay scales for some unionized tours.

And Actors’ Equity is weighing something that has been a scary frontier for years: live-streaming of theater of theater.

Those issues were in the background Thursday as McColl reveled in the show. The production was “superb,” McColl pronounced afterwards, noting the breath-taking dance, witty choreography and spirited music. “What a treat.”

McColl is one of several arts leaders who the Twin Cities in recent years to run national outfits. She hired Ralph Remington, the founder of Pillsbury House Theatre and former head of theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, to run the western regional offices of Equity.

Teresa Eyring, the former managing director of the Children’s Theatre, is executive director of the Theatre Communications Group, the nonprofit theater's chief advocacy organization.

And Kathy Halbreich, former head of Walker Art Center, is associate director at the Museum of Modern Art.

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