'For the Beauty of the Earth'
With a patch of garbage twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean, it's no wonder musicians increasingly seek to reflect ecological concerns with their programs. Twin Cities vocal group Cantus celebrates the planet with a concert featuring fresh versions of popular songs including Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me" alongside classical works by composers such as Hugo Alfven. (7:30 p.m. Thu., MacPhail Center, Mpls.; 7:30 p.m. Sat., Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul; 11 a.m. April 20, Colonial Church of Edina; 7:30 p.m. April 21, Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater; 3 p.m. April 22, Wayzata Community Church, $10-$40, 612.435.0055 or cantussings.org)
Pianist Louis Lortie is one of the world's finest Liszt interpreters, so his appearance this week with Minnesota Orchestra should be one to relish. Lortie plays the composer's First Piano Concerto, a piece with thundering virtuosity that makes it one of the most exciting concertos in the classical repertoire. In a concert tailor-made for lovers of the romantic period, guest conductor Markus Stenz also leads performances of Schumann's Second Symphony and Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll," the composer's richly expressive tone poem written as a birthday present for his wife Cosima. (8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., Orchestra Hall, Mpls.; $12-$106, 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org)
Just in time for a Minnesota spring, the latest from MacPhail's enterprising Spotlight Series features music with a dark streak. That includes the marimba concerto Nebojša Živković wrote as a tribute to the Slavik people, a new arrangement of Liszt's "Totentanz" ("Dance of Death"), plus Stravinsky's "Soldier's Tale" with narration by actor Tyson Forbes. (8 p.m. Sat., Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, Mpls.; $15-$25, 612-767-5250 or macphail.org)
The Lark Quartet was formed 30 years ago by Twin Cities cellist Laura Sewell. The four original members join forces with the current lineup for this unique anniversary celebration. The program is headlined by Mendelssohn's Octet, plus the Minnesota premiere of a work for two quartets by American composer Andrew Waggoner. (4 p.m., Sun., St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, St. Paul; $21-$31, 651-292-3268 or schubert.org)
The mandolin usually gets short shrift as a classical instrument. But it's front and center for this Minnesota Sinfonia program featuring a Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto and Vittorio Monti's "Czardas." Former "Prairie Home Companion" mandolinist Richard Kriehn is the soloist, performing his own "Red Barn Waltz" for the occasion. (7 p.m. Fri., Harding High School Auditorium, St. Paul; 7:30 p.m. Sat., Fairmont Opera House, Fairmont, Minn.; 2 p.m. Sun., Basilica of St. Mary, Mpls.; free, mnsinfonia.org)