Snow Melting — Image via pixabay.com

9 Arts Picks for Spring

Now that we’ve made it to what Minnesota calls “shorts and t-shirt weather” and the rest of the world calls “still pretty chilly,” we can look forward to the arrival of spring and everything that comes with it, including a rich selection of arts events. Here are a few that I’m especially excited about:

Kopatchinskaja Plays Schubert

Violinist and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra artistic partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja returns after her electric debut to lead a program Mar. 27-29 in which an arrangement of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet will be interspersed with works by composers from Carlo Gesualdo to Heinz Holliger, including some of Kopatchinskaja’s own arrangements. There won’t be an intermission, but if this is anything like Kopatchinskaja’s last appearance, nobody will be getting too fidgety.

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play

After decades of writers on The Simpsons crafting episodes inspired by plays, musicals, and movies, Anne Washburn finally went and wrote a play inspired by The Simpsons. In the wake of a nuclear holocaust, the show’s “Cape Feare” episode — the one with the infamous rake sequence — becomes one of the cultural building blocks of a new society. The play has gotten generally positive reviews in D.C., New York, and Chicago, and it plays at the Guthrie Theater Mar. 31 through May 10.

Abderrahmane Sissako at the Walker

Abderrahmane Sissako — Image via wikimedia.orgSince his first full-length feature, Life on Earth (1998), Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako has been slowly building a reputation for his visually rich and narratively circuitous dramas. Last month, the Walker Art Center hosted a series of screenings of his latest film, Timbuktu. Now, the director himself is coming to the Walker for a three-day retrospective of his work Apr. 2-4, spanning four features and an early shorter work, October. Sissako will introduce each film and participate in a moderated discussion afterward.

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

The Film Society of Minneapolis/Saint Paul‘s annual festival is always one of the highlights of the spring, with a mind-boggling selection of mostly little-known films from around the world, from arthouse dramas to documentaries to horror films. And then there’s the Childish Films section, a meticulously curated selection of movies that, for once, treat children like the future adults they are. We launched Bad Entertainment with our coverage of the 2013 festival and are eagerly looking forward to seeing the roster for this year’s festival, to be held Apr. 9-25.

Hilary Hahn & Cory Smythe

Over the past few years, violinist Hilary Hahn has commissioned brief encore pieces for violin and piano from 27 contemporary composers. She and pianist Cory Smythe will perform several of these at the end of an Apr. 15 Schubert Club recital also featuring Schumann’s underappreciated Violin Sonata No. 1, Debussy’s valedictory Violin Sonata, and Bach’s famous Partita No. 3 for solo violin.

Victoire, Glasser & Noveller

Copresented by the Walker Art Center and the SPCO’s Liquid Music series, this May 9 concert will bring together composer Missy Mazzoli’s new-music ensemble Victoire, singer-producer Cameron Mesirow (Glasser), and electric guitarist Sarah Lipstate (Noveller) for three separate sets followed by a collaborative finale. Liquid Music’s stock in trade is the juxtaposition of artists with distinct but compatible styles, and this combination looks likely to be particularly fruitful.

Vänskä’s Sibelius Cycle Continues

Osmo Vänskä — Image via harrisonparrott.comIt’s the cycle that was almost never completed. In a series of concerts May 28 through Jun. 6, Osmo Vänskä will conduct the Minnesota Orchestra in Sibelius’s 3rd, 6th, and 7th symphonies alongside works by Nielsen, Brahms, and Mahler. The Sibelius symphonies will be recorded in separate sessions the same weeks, concluding a cycle that was interrupted by the orchestra’s near-fatal 2012-14 lockout. The brilliantly unfolding 3rd is a particular favorite of mine, but I’ll be looking forward to hearing all three.

Mu Performing Arts’s Twelfth Night

Actor-director Randy Reyes has a way with Shakespeare, as he’s demonstrated many times in productions with Ten Thousand Things, the Guthrie Theater, and his own troupe The Strange Capers. So a production of Twelfth Night (which is, incidentally, the source of this blog’s title) with Reyes playing the fool Feste and directing his talented and versatile colleagues at Mu Performing Arts should be a no-brainer.

Tony Kushner’s The Illusion

One of playwright Tony Kushner’s lesser-known works, The Illusion is a free adaptation of a 17th Century comedy by French dramatist Pierre Corneille. The quirky Theatre Pro Rata has been somewhat homeless since the 2013 closing of the former Gremlin Theatre space in Saint Paul, where it was an informal resident company, but now it has signed on to produce a series of three plays on the Park Square Theatre’s new thrust stage, of which this is the first. It should be worth checking out.

That’s what’s on my list so far, but the other thing I look forward to every season is hearing about events that might otherwise be off my radar, which often turn out to be some of the most memorable. So if you’re excited about or involved in anything else that’s coming up, feel free to share in the comments.

Melting snow photo by Ville Turkkinen
Abderrahmane Sissako photo by Georges Biard
Osmo Vänskä photo by Kaapo Kamu

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Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.