'Orpheus' revisited

The Greek myth of Orpheus, the singer and lyre player who descends to Hades searching for his late wife, Euridice, inspired the first great opera (Monteverdi's "Orfeo") 400 years ago, and still fascinates composers with its symbolic resonance. The latest tilt at the legend is that of American composer Steven Mackey, whose "Orpheus Unsung" hits Minneapolis this week for its world premiere, in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music series. An "opera without words," the piece has Mackey himself portraying Orpheus through his electric guitar, with three dancers, percussionist Jason Treuting and multimedia content by director Mark DeChiazza. (7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., Guthrie Theater, Mpls. $25. 651-291-1144 or thespco.org)


David Levithan's "Two Boys Kissing," a novel about gay teenagers negotiating their nascent sexuality, was widely acclaimed on publication three years ago, drawing comparisons to "Lord of the Flies" and "Of Mice and Men" as high school reading material. It now provides the basis for a new choral composition of the same title, commissioned by the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus. Levithan's book, with its multiple narrative voices and a chorus of AIDS victims commenting on the action, seems ideally fitted for Joshua Shank, formerly composer-in-residence with the Singers, to add the music. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ted Mann Concert Hall, Mpls. $30-$53. 612-246-3857 or tcgmc.calls.net)

Vexations is a page of music by the avant-garde French composer Erik Satie, designed to be mesmerically repeated. It forms the basis for "Hypnosis," which intriguingly adds elements of dance (Penelope Freeh) and Jack Dant's visual art to a live performance of Satie's piece by pianist Richard Tostenson. (8 p.m. Wed., Baroque Room, St. Paul. $26. minneapolismc.org)

"The first symphony." That is what Minnesota composer Steve Heitzeg calls nature, and he has pioneered the art of the "ecoscore," meshing music with pressing environmental issues. Join him for "Sounds of the Solstice," a "sound walk" through the Belwin Conservancy, for a firsthand glimpse of how Heitzeg's music grows from what he sees and hears around him. (11 a.m. Sat., Belwin Conservancy, Afton; donation, preregister at belwin.org)

Two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba, a lakeside setting, a mixed repertoire of toe-tapping classical and popular favorites. Take a break from your schedule and check out Rum River Brass' midweek set in a family-friendly environment at the Maetzold Amphitheater in Edina. (7 p.m. Wed., Centennial Lakes Park, Edina; free, rumriverbrass.com)