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Friday, February 28, 2014


On February 15, I had the opportunity to attend the Rose Ensemble’s Candlelight Concert at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.  As I’ve mentioned many times before I am a HUGE fan of the Rose Ensemble, and their Candlelight Concerts are my favorites.  In fact, some years when I have only been able to attend one of their performances, I always choose the Candlelight Concert.

The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

I like this performance for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it always provides a calm meditative atmosphere while introducing us to some amazing period music. The other thing I love about this concert is the pre-concert discussion.  This is the only one of their performances throughout the year that offers this, and they are very educational and informative.

This year’s concert was entitled “Martin’s Cloak” and featured the “mystery, miracles, and marvel that surrounded the 13th-century saga of Saint Martin.”  Martin, as we learned, wasn’t canonized because he endured a martyr’s death for his faith, but instead for the way that he lived his life.  There is a wonderful story of Martin, who was soldier in the Roman army, and his encounter with a poor man without a cloak shivering on a cold day.  Martin immediately drew his sword and, slicing his own cloak in half, offered half to the man.  That evening, in a dream, Christ appeared to him wearing that cloak.  Martin took this as a sign that he was to be a “soldier” for Christ, and renounced his service in the military.  He eventually went on to become the Bishop of Tours, France.

Evening's glow.

For centuries the music that celebrated Martin existed only in fragments, but thanks to the research of Israeli Musicologist, Yossi Maurey, a number of these fragments have been pieced together allowing the Rose Ensemble to bring them to life again.  One of the pieces, Miles Mire Probitatis, hadn’t been performed for 500 years until that evening.  Maurey was also on hand to lead the pre-concert discussion and we were given an wonderful introduction not only Martin, but to Gregorian Chant as well, and how subsequent layering of music lines evolved these pieces forward over time.

As usual, I was not disappointed, and the Rose Ensemble's Candlelight Concert was truly amazing.

Don't let the name fool you.  There's nothing pornographic about this venue.

The food at the Amsterdam was delicious!

A few days after the Rose Ensemble concert, a friend and I attended an operetta based on the story of Olympic figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  “Tonya and Nancy: The Opera” was presented by Mixed Precipitation, a small local company who also presents an Opera in the Park series. Last summer I attended one of  their park performances, and it was really well done.

This performance was held at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul, a music venue for local bands.  I had never been to the Amsterdam so this was a new adventure for me.  We arrived early so we could have dinner, and I must say that the food was INCREDILE!!!  I will go back again for the food alone!

“Tonya and Nancy: The Opera” was far more “camp” then the other production I attended, but was very enjoyable.  The operetta was short, and was part of a larger program that included live webstreaming of the women’s Olympic figure skating championship along with Olympic figure skating trivia, all kicked off by a pre-show performance of music from Dmitri Shostakovich's Seven Romances.  While the concept of the evening was good, it seemed to lack cohesion and didn’t flow smoothly.  However, even though the show could have been tightened up some, it was still a fun evening.

The storm was in full swing when we left the Amsterdam!

Our drive home from St. Paul was a bit interesting as the Twin Cities received another ten inches of snow that night.  Under the snow was a sheet of ice which made travel difficult, even a few days later when the streets had been plowed.  I chose to escape the winter cold that weekend by visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA).

"Sunshine" on a cold winter day!

I'm in trouble! MIA now sells some incredible bow ties!

MIA is an incredible museum, and a true gem in a city our size.  I spent the day wandering their halls and galleries visiting favorite pieces, while at the same time discovering new attractions.  The museum itself will be the subject of another post, but as way of introduction, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite pieces from its collection.

The original entrance to MIA.

February has definitely been one of the coldest months I can remember during my twelve years here in Minneapolis, but these sub-zero temperatures have given me the chance to explore and experience several of the amazing and varied arts opportunities the Twin Cities have to offer.  We truly are an arts mecca.

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