Mischa Santora will direct MacPhail's Spotlight series. Photo by Ixi Chen.

Mischa Santora has added another local gig to his list of appointments. Santora, who is a former associate conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra and is serving as interim conductor for the Philharmonic Orchestra of St. Olaf College, will be artistic director for this season's MacPhail's Spotlight Series. The four programs combine classical-music performance with other art forms, such as puppetry and dance, as well as and contextual background on the pieces played and their composers.

Santora, who is also in his seventh season as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and frequently travels as a guest conductor, lives in Minneapolis.

The idea behind the MacPhail series, he said, is to "create a truly 21st-century concert-going experience.  We live in such a visual society, and if we have the chance to present music in a visual context, it attracts more people to the music and enhances their understanding of it. We’re lucky to be in the Twin Cities where there are so many creative performing arts organizations to potentially work with.”

The series begins Nov. 16 with "Musical Journeys from Paris to New York," with music from Geminiani, Varese, Piaf and Gershwin, complemented by choreography by Christina Baldwin and Dominique Serrand of local theater troupe The Moving Company. On Feb. 22. 2014, "Puppets, Pranksters and Ballerinas," a program of Stravinsky and Milhaud, will feature shadow puppetry by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. Details on the March 22 "Viennese Ventures" and April 26 "Art of Improvisation" programs are still being worked out. For more:  http://www.startribune.com/a2497

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