Have Snow Will Sing: Another Writer Looks at Minnesota’s Thriving Art Scene

reblogged from my post at Arts America


I love Minnesota. Really I do.  Despite the first couple years of my life having been in sunny Puerto Rico, I somehow ended up developing a tolerance for our bitter cold weather. Granted, I am writing this in the middle of a gorgeous spring afternoon, so it’s easy to talk kindly of our climate at the moment.

It has crossed my mind in the past that our state’s frigidity is the very thing that has inspired its development into a hub for artistic pursuits. As a native of the state I sometimes wonder if my favoring the community is simply due to my being familiar with it. Readers could easily accuse me of being biased when I make claims about the Twin Cities being such a fabulous arts community, but you needn’t only take my word for it.

Yesterday we received my husband’s May 2012 issue of Classical Singer magazine and right there on the cover was “Minnesota’s and Chicago’s Music Scenes.”  Flipping to page 40 I find the article “The Musical Galaxy of the North Star State” with the intro sentence, “Move over New York, L.A., and Chicago.  Minneapolis is taking the classical music scene by storm.”

Mm-hm.  Oh-yeah.

Regardless of this balmy April day, not to mention the unusually mild winter we had this year, I will introduce the article with writer Olivia Giovetti’s  last statement: “It may be cold outside, but the cultural blood of the city runs red hot.”  Minnesota Opera’s music director designate Michael Christie appropriately sums up the situation here:

“There’s such a longstanding tradition of excellence and the feeling I have from people is they all take this really great sense of pride that all of this is happening in spite of cold weather and dark nights.  If they’re approaching life by saying, ‘OK, we got this weather thing going on, but we are going to be the best place to live otherwise,’ it just seems fantastic.”

The article focuses largely on the Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artists Program and the successful careers it has helped to launch.  Again and again, performers – both resident and visiting – comment on the general communal relationship amongst the region’s artists. This collaborative spirit inspires high-quality art, according to some of the quotes by mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, and visiting mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu.  Composer Judd Greenstein had this to say about his recent experience with the Minnesota Orchestra,

“It felt like being in a church or synagogue where people were saying ‘Hi’ to old friends…It was very clear that it was a community of people who were centered around the arts – which doesn’t sound so remarkable, but I think it’s not something that we necessarily see that often anymore.”

In addition to accolades for MN Opera, the article tips a hat toward acclaimed educational institutions such as St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota as major factors in cultivating the thriving arts scene here.  My Swedish husband concurs with Giovetti’s assessment of the “proud, fortuitous, and resourceful Scandinavian spirit still at work in the North Star State, just waiting to inspire the willing artist.”

But don’t merely read about this inspiring artistic community – go out and experience it for yourself.  Be moved.  Be inspired. Be warmed.  Literally.

Following is a list of the specific companies and ensembles mentioned in this Classical Singer article, along with information about their next performances around the Twin Cities.

Minnesota Concert OperaI Puritani – September 28 and 30, 2012, The Cowles Center, Minneapolis

Minnesota Opera The Giver – April 27, 28, 29, 2012, The Minnesota Opera Center, Minneapolis

Skylark Opera Wonderful Town and Mademoiselle Modiste at the fifth annual Summer Opera Festival – June 8-17, 2012, Concordia University, St. Paul

Mill City Summer Opera Pagliacci July 12, 14, 15, 18, and 20, 2012, Mill City Museum, Minneapolis

VocalEssenceCantare! Community Concert – May 22, 2012, Burnsville Performing Arts Center, Burnsville

Minnesota OrchestraDaphnis and Chloe – April 27 and 28, Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis

St. Paul Chamber OrchestraReformation Symphony – April 28, Ordway Center, St. Paul

The Singers – “At The River: American Folk Songs and Spirituals” –  June 2 and 3, 2012, St. Paul and Wayzata

The Rose Ensemble – Free concert – May 5, 2012, RH Stafford Woodbury Public Library, Woodbury

Cantus – “Sanctus: Spriti of Music”- May 5 and 6, 2012, Woodbury and Edina

KantoreiZigeunerlieder – May 5 and 6, Minneapolis and St. Paul

By Naomi Bird

Wife of tenor Nathan Bird, pianist, organist, former music therapist, writer, tea-drinker, mom of two mini-sopranos and two mini-tenors, and learner of loving the arts.

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