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Another leader steps down from the Minnesota Fringe Festival

Another leader is leaving the Minnesota Fringe Festival weeks after its executive director resigned and just as it battles a lawsuit.

On Thursday, associate director Ann B. Erickson (pictured left) will say goodbye to the fringe, where has worked for six seasons, the last four consecutively.

Her abrupt departure comes weeks after executive director Jeff D. Larson announced that he was stepping down as head of what may be the state’s largest performing arts festivals.

Larson had been with the organization since 1999, when he worked as a technician, before eventually rising to take the reins in 2013.

Both departures come as the festival is being sued. Controversial Arizona-based actor Sean Neely (pictured right, in performance for another show) filed suit against the fringe after his pedophilia-themed show, “Having Sex with Children in My Brain,” won a slot in the unjuried festival, but then was later rejected.

A hearing was held on that suit in September. Calls to the fringe board chair and to Neely's lawyer were not returned Wednesday.

Erickson said that she was leaving for personal reasons.

"It’s bittersweet for me but I’ve been thinking about my next step for a little while now,” said Erickson.

As far a replacement goes, she said: “The board has been actively involved with this transition to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that everything stays on track.”

Larson had nothing but praise for her on Wednesday. "She's spectacularly intelligent," he said. "When she first interned with us, we all said we're going to be working for her one day."

The festival drew nearly 48,000 patrons over 10 days to 169 shows this summer, down from just over 50,000 patrons the previous year.

The dates for next year's festival have been announced. It takes place Aug. 3-13, 2017 in Minneapolis.

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra earns rave review from New York Times

Above: SPCO Artistic Partner Jeremy Denk performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in New York City on Saturday evening. 

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is a world-class conductorless ensemble — are they exactly what American needs this divisive election season?

SPCO players spent their weekend in New York City, where they played a season-opening concert for the 92nd Street Y. The program featured the New York premiere of “O Mikros, O Megas (This Tiny World, This Enormous World)” by American composer George Tsontakis. Also featured was Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 with SPCO artistic partner/solo pianist Jeremy Denk. 

The concert dazzled New York music critic Corinna da Fonseca-Willheim. Writing for the New York Times, she used adjectives such as "fiery" and "velvety" to describe the performances.

In an amusing twist, the writer also used the performance as a metaphor for equity and democracy. "To me, it was also a reassurance that, in certain quarters, participatory democracy is alive and well," she wrote.

Another excerpt: "It became a touching example of how much the absence of a conductor encourages orchestral musicians to be supportive — and even protective — of one another."

Read the entire review here.

Want to hear “O Mikros, O Megas," one of the pieces Fonseca-Willheim raved about? Catch the Midwest premiere at various St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts in the Twin Cities through Oct. 29. For tickets, call 651-291-1144 or visit  

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