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Four Minnesota composers will get $25,000 each as winners of this year's McKnight Composition Fellowships. The fellowships are administered by St. Paul-based American Composers Forum. They were selected from 63 applicants. The judges for this year's selections were composers Amir ElSaffar (New York, N.Y.), Stacy Garrop (Chicago, Ill.) and Daniel Trueman (Princeton, N.J.) The 2014 winners are:
Alex Freeman, who teaches at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. and has written and recorded chamber, choral and piano works.
Jocelyn Hagen, of Minneapolis, who was a longtime composer-in-residence for The Singers, and is now composer-in-residence at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Michelle Kinney, of Golden Valley, a cellist and composer who is Musician in Residence at the University of Minnesota's Dance Program and a member of the quartet Jelloslave.
George Maurer, of Minneapolis, a composer and jazz pianist whose work has been performed by orchestras, ballet troupes, jazz ensembles and musical-theater producers.
Another McKnight program awards $15,000 each to two artists from outside Minnesota to spend two months or more in the state working on projects. Robin Eschner of Forestville, Calif., will produce a song cycle related to the the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in northern Minnesota, and Pamela Z of San Francisco will compose a work focusing on Minnesota "farm-to-table" movement as it goes from farms to farmer's markets and restaurants.
The McKnight Foundation, founded in 1953, contributes about $1.7 million each year to individual artists via fellowships and other programs. American Composers Forum, founded in 1973 as Minnesota Composers Forum, has a worldwide membership of 1,700 artists, organizations and community members.
Kelly Nathe, producer
Documentary-filmmakers Norah Shapiro and Kelly Nathe have won a Legacy-funded grant from the Minnesota Film & TV Board for a film on the colorful moonshine-making history of Nathe’s home turf, Stearns County. The doc will trace the Prohibition-era activities of Depression-devastated farmers who turned to hustling illegal booze as well as look at the current revival of spirits made from the “Minnesota 13” heirloom corn being used by the Eleven Wells distillery located in the old Hamm’s Brewery in St. Paul. “We just got to taste some fresh-off-the-still hooch there, and it was yummy,” said Nathe. The grant, which will amount to about $40,000 in reimbursements intended to help cover pre-production costs, is very rare and very welcome because “it’s nearly impossible to raise money for a feature documentary before you’ve begun filming,” she told I.W. “It’s also a tremendous stamp of approval that hopefully helps attract other funders.” Filmmaker Michael McIntee also won a grant from Minnesota Film & TV for his work-in-progress on the fight for marriage equality in Minnesota.
Norah Shapiro, producer/director
Textile Center image by Star Tribune staff photographer Bruce Bisping
The Textile Center of Minnesota has hired management consultant Nancy Lee as interim director, a post she is expected to retain for about six months while the organization seeks a permanent leader.
"She's a perfect fit for what we need right now," said Donna C. Peterson, president of the Textile Center's 12 member board. Peterson is a former associate vice president of government and community relations at the University of Minnesota.
As a consultant, Lee specializes in non-profit management and the development of strategic business plans. She is a former CFO of Minnesota Goodwill and Easter Seals, and a former vice president of the Minnesota Children's Museum.
Lee began work at the Textile Center April 28th. Over the next few months she is expected to oversee the Center's ongoing operations and to assist the board in defining the organizational qualities and expertise needed to run the organization. The difficulty is striking a balance between management skills and knowledge of an artform that encompasses everything from historic rugs to contemporary art clothes.
"We're taking our time to really understand what are strengths and capacitiy are, and to define the profile of our members and potential funders" Peterson said.
The Textile Center is an umbrella organization whose members are professsional and amateur arists engaged in textile crafts ranging from weaving to lace making, batik, knitting, crochetting, custom tailoring, hand dying and doll making.
The non profit organization at 3000 University Av S. E., near the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, has a staff of 14 full and part-time employees and an annual budget of about $800,000. It runs an exhibition gallery and a small shop selling handmade clothing, accessories and textile-related crafts. Its professional services include a library and facilities for dying and weaving textiles, classrooms and meeting spaces for school kids and adults.
This rendering depicts "Balancing Ground," this summer's temporary art installation for MCC Plaza.
Last summer, it was MIMMI, a giant inflatable sculpture that hovered over the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza like a giant mood ring, allegedly changing colors along with the emotional ebb and flow of passersby. This year's Creative City Challenge winner is "Balancing Ground," a series of wooden benches interspersed with teeter-totters and surrounded by a canopy of prisms that will cast constantly changing shadows, patterns and colors.
The interactive artwork by Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites and Sarah West was one of several finalists the public could vote for online.The foursome will get $75,000 to build and install their project in early June. They intend it to be a "space without walls, open to all."
Begun last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the underused plaza and interact with both the art and each other, Creative City Challenge is now a collaboration between the the city of Minneapolis, the MCC and Northernlights.mn, which puts on the annual dusk-to-dawn Northern Spark festival.
"Balancing Ground" will be unveiled at 8:30 p.m. on June 14 as part of this summer's Northern Spark event.
Abdulkadir Said played traditional Somali music during the grand opening of a Minneapolis Somali musuem in October. A new grant will bring more Somali musicians to town. Photo by Kyndell Harkness.
The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has given the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg College $200,000 to bring internationally known Somali musicians to Minneapolis over the next two years. The grant, one of only six given nationwide, is intended to fund efforts to promote understanding of Islamic cultures through art. This one will be used not only to present concerts by Somali musicians based as far away as London and Kenya, but to connect them -- as well as local Somali musicians -- with Augsburg students and faculty.
The cultural center and Augsburg are located close to each other on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, which has the highest concentration of Somali residents in the Twin Cities. Dubbed "Midnimo," the Somali word for unity, the goal of the Cedar's project is to not only expose students and the broader community to a traditional Somali music art form, but to have them jam together as well, said Adrienne Dorn, director of development for the Cedar. After the deadly New Year's Day fire that destroyed a nearby apartment building, the Cedar hosted a benefit concert with Somalis singing and an American jazz band playing along.
"People just loved it," Dorn said. "Somali music is traditionally heavy on vocals without a lot of instrumentation so it was great to get them together."
A bonus of the project might be helping to reunite musicians who have been dispersed by the ongoing civil war in their native land.
"Music was seen as a form of protest and often suppressed," Dorn said. "I hope we can get some old bandmates who are living far apart from each other to play together again."
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