Flanagan: It's time to get our community singing again

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 6, 2012 - 5:23 PM

There are many plans for a musical summer, so why not resurrect those grand, old community sings?

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In 1935, thousands flocked to Powderhorn Park for the community sing commemorating the 15th anniversary of the community sings.

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The Flanagan Memo - RE: Music, books and money.

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Music comes first.

There are many plans for a musical summer -- even an opera sung in the open air at the Mill City Museum -- so why not resurrect those grand, old community sings?

The sing-alongs came up because of a letter from Harry Anderson Jr., whose father led them in our Minneapolis parks for more than 30 years. When Harry Sr. died, George Murk, the head of the Musicians Union, took over.

The sings, sponsored by the Minneapolis Tribune, were held on early summer evenings and brought out huge crowds of singers.

Now, Harry Jr. is lobbying to have his father elected to the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in New Ulm. He believes his father made great music with his voice and deserves the recognition. Well, I think that is fair enough. Good grief, the almighty Andrews Sisters, three mighty good singers from Minneapolis, didn't make the cut until 2010.

Meanwhile, consider bringing back the community sings. Perhaps the Park Board should think about it.

As for outdoor opera, save July 12 through 20 for what is called the Mill City Summer Opera. Tickets will cost $25.

The production of "Pagliacci" will offer some new ideas, including setting it in 1878, the year a fire destroyed the mill leaving it in ruins. The singers will appear in those ruins with the orchestra performing on a platform above them. And the audience will sit facing north with views of the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mississippi River.

The other nugget I gleaned is that the role of Tonio will be sung by Andy Wilkowske, a Minnesota native who regularly performs with the Minnesota Opera.

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By the way, Claes Oldenburg, the sculptor who does soaring bananas, enormous red lipsticks and our own great big spoon and cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, isn't angry about the recent defacement of it. He is coming to town in September of 2013 for a big exhibit of his art at Walker Art Center.

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Oldenburg isn't the only famous Swede set to visit Minneapolis.

Save Oct. 6 this year for Sweden's King Carl and Queen Silvia. They'll show up to view the new Nelson Cultural Center at the American Swedish Institute. They will also attend a dinner that night at the Hilton Hotel. ASI members will be able to buy dinner tickets on Aug. 13.

The Swedish royals are a handsome pair; actually, the queen is a stunner.

There will be "rift-cut white oak paneling'' in the new Nelson Center. The centerpiece of the lobby will be a tapestry of folk costumes by Helena Hernmarck.

At the end of May, the Center will be connected to the Turnblad Mansion, the main building of the museum at 2600 Park Av. The grand opening is June 30.

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The former Platt house where the late Stanley and Martha Platt lived for many years, is getting a going-over for this year's annual House Tour sponsored by local designers and decorators. The house stands at W. Franklin Avenue and W. Lake of the Isles. It opens May 18 and then continues through June 10. Among other things, there will be "culinary evenings" on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the run. Beneficiaries include the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Since everybody is out raising funds for something or other, here's an idea that might work.

On the corners of Kenwood Parkway and W. 22nd Street are four houses. They include the mighty Mary Tyler Moore House of TV fame, a cunning kind of a cottage, and two large, impressive homes. You could do a cutting-the-corners house tour for some good cause. The contrasting styles should drag in a bit of a crowd.

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If you love books, here are a few of my latest favorites:

• For a novel. Don't miss "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach. This is a very funny book about baseball, of all things, and life. I ignored it for a while, but finally all of its great reviews lured me -- and I will probably read it again.

• For some gritty nonfiction aimed at women who love haute couture, read "Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War," by Hal Vaughan. Yes, it is THAT Chanel and, yes, she may have been a Nazi in World War II. It was good reading.

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