Posts Tagged TaikoArts Midwest

Announcing Saint Paul Summer Sunlight

SAINT PAUL SUMMER SUNLIGHT PERFORMANCE SERIES WELCOMES WORKERS AND AUDIENCES BACK TO DOWNTOWN 

Media Contact – Rachel Wandrei wandrei@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., June 22, 2021 – Park Square Theatre and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance are celebrating the reopening of downtown Saint Paul with a free outdoor concert series aimed at welcoming returning workers, residents, theatre fans and music lovers back to the city’s cultural scene. SAINT PAUL SUMMER SUNLIGHT, a series of ten performances, will fill West 7th Place (the pedestrian mall between Wabasha and St Peter) with lunchtime and happy hour concerts from July 22 through September 23, 2021. 

An man in shiny red pants dancing and singing into a microphone.

Ready Freddie

“We have a varied and energetic lineup of concerts, from the glam rock-and-roll of Ready Freddie – A Queen Experience and the powerful R&B vocals of MsArnise, to Full Circle Theater Company’s recontextualization of The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan opera classic,” says Park Square producer Kim Vasquez. “The Twin Cities has an array of eclectic, talented theatre makers and musicians who are ready to get back on stage, and audiences who are ready to come out and party a little. Our new team at Park Square Theatre and SteppingStone Theatre wants to play a collaborative leadership role in reconnecting community members and artists and adding to the vibrancy of downtown together.” Other acts in the series include Annie and the Bang Bang, The Champagne Drops, TaikoArts Midwest, an old-time radio show by the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society and more (photo link below).  

A woman in red bluse and white blazer calmly looks into the distance. An industrial scene in the background

MsArnise

“As people return to downtown, we’ll be there to welcome them back and remind them of all the joy and excitement there is to be had in a vibrant urban center,” says Joe Spencer, president of the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. “From our restaurants and shops to our music and theatre venues, our city is poised to bounce back better than ever.” Music will continue into the evenings with acoustic sets on the Loon Cafe’s patio on Thursday evenings throughout the summer.  

Park Square will be announcing their full reopening plans later in the summer, with a commitment to gradually producing shows that were canceled due to the pandemic (including a remount of the 2018 sold-out hit, MARIE AND ROSETTA), as well as sharing the Historic Hamm Building facility with other arts organizations. “The theatre may have been dark for over a year, but we’ve been busy behind the scenes and

Three drummers in blue tunics with drumsticks in the air surround three drumbs

TaikoArts Midwest

can’t wait to reconnect with people,” comments Mark Ferraro-Hauck, interim executive director of Park Square and artistic director of their partner theatre, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth. SteppingStone will be producing MADAGASCAR – A MUSICAL ADVENTURE JR, on West 7th Place from July 27- August 8. “Summer on the plaza is gonna be hoppin!” continues Ferraro-Hauck. “There will be an entertaining show for you here whether you are 3, 33, or 83. And then we’ll bring that energy inside and into the future. Join us!” 

TICKET PRICES: Free and open to the public. Limited chairs will be available, audiences are invited to bring their own chairs. Email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION*:

The Champagne Drops

The Champagne Drops

Thurs Jul 22, 12:00 pm – Full Circle Theater Company 
Thurs Aug 5, 4:30 pm – Ready Freddie: A Queen Experience
Thurs Aug 12, 12:00 pm – Legacy Arts Group
Thurs Aug 12, 4:30 pm – The Champagne Drops
Thurs Aug 19, 4:30 pm – MsArnise
Thurs Aug 26, 12:00 pm – TaikoArts Midwest
Thurs Sep 9, 4:30 pm – Annie and the Bang Bang
Fri Sep 10, 12:00 pm – Ben Cook-Feltz
Wed Sep 15, 12:00 pm – TBA
Thurs Sep 23, 4:30 pm – The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society 
*All performances subject to change. For continuous updates, visit parksquaretheatre.org. 

PHOTO LINK: Press Photos available at:
https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/#1603933207367-806db2dd-4e8f 

Man in black fedora playing a red electric keyboard, a man at his side plays upright base.

Ben Cook-Feltz

SAINT PAUL SUMMER SUNLIGHT is sponsored by the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance, as part of its #WelcomeBackStPL campaign to safely celebrate reopening and welcome people back downtown. From outdoor trivia and art installations to pop-up events and concerts, the Downtown Alliance is partnering with downtown institutions, businesses, artists, and musicians to host more than 300 events and activations through the fall. Follow the Downtown Alliance on Facebook and Instagram or check out the hashtag #WelcomeBackStPL for updates. For the full calendar of events, visit WelcomeBackStPL.com. 

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. www.parksquaretheatre.org 

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Guest Concert: Japan American Society of Minnesota presents Cerulean Fire

 

In 2012, virtuoso violinist Margaret Humphrey and award-winning composer and harpsichordist Asako Hirabayashi partnered to form Cerulean Fire. Their vision is to raise audience awareness and appreciation of concerts with historical instruments but do so with a contemporary spin. They remove boundaries between classical and nonclassical music by performing both new and old music in creative juxtaposition and often collaborate with jazz, Latin, Japanese and other ethnic musicians and dancers.

On Sunday, June 10, at 4 pm, Cerulean Fire, with Sogetsu Ikebana Group and Japan American Society of Minnesota, bring to Park Square Theatre an extraordinary visual and musical experience, Musical and Floral Metamorphosis: Premiere of Concerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings. Throughout the entire piece, nine instruments are treated as soloists, not just some as accompaniment to others. The guest conductor will be Nobuyoshi Yasuda (affectionately known as “Nobu”), an accomplished violinist, music professor and conductor of the Chippewa Valley Symphony and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Symphony Orchestra.

Asako Hirabayashi and Margaret Humphrey, with harpsichord and violin, wearing elaborate cerulean blue gown & red gownConcerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings will indeed be played on four harpsichords and string instruments,” explained Asako, its composer. “To premiere it at Park Square Theatre is a unique opportunity for the entire community since only three concertos for four harpsichords have ever been written in Western classical music history. And presenting such a show involving four harpsichords is extremely difficult and rare due to the nature of the instrument. Finding four harpsichords is hard but so is their maintenance as they are sensitive to temperature and humidity. During rehearsals and the performance, we will need to keep a thousand strings tuned!”

Since the age of seven, Asako played piano–switching to harpsichord as an adult–and wrote music because “I always wanted to be a pianist who plays my own compositions.” In high school, she realized that her hands were too small and hindered effective competition with male pianists so she chose Composition as her major in college and graduate school in Japan. However, her desire to perform never left, and she took up the harpsichord when it was introduced to her in Japan when her teacher, Eiji Hashimoto, gave a recital and performed Scarlatti.

“I was very impressed,” Asako recalled. “The music of Scarlatti really made sense on harpsichord, not on piano. His music is Spanish and imitates the sounds of flamenco guitar, and he uses crushing percussion-like dissonance in his keyboard sonatas. It is only effective on harpsichord, not on today’s grand piano. So I was very fascinated by the sound effect. Also, the keys of the harpsichord are much smaller for my small hands to reach.

Additionally, in ensemble during the Renaissance and Baroque period, the right hand part was not always written. Only the bass part may be written so the keyboardist had to improvise with the right hand. A harpsichordist must be able to improvise. As a composer, I had the advantage of being able to readily do that.

Besides, I love doing what nobody else does. The harpsichord and harpsichordists were extremely rare in Japan at the time, and I wanted to play something that not many people were playing.”

A stunning visual highlight on performance day will be the ikebana exhibit in the theatre’s foyer that complements the event. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement that is, as Asako describes, “more than simply putting flowers in a container.” Dating back to the 7th century, ikebana is a highly disciplined art that brings nature and humanity together.

“Ikebana allows the heart of the arranger to touch the heart of the viewer, bringing peace and tranquility,” Asako elaborated. “Ikebana master and my friend Yoshie Babcock has taught it for over 30 years in the Twin Cities and Chicago. In 1996, the late headmaster of Sogetsu appointed her as chairperson of the Sogetsu Minneapolis-St. Paul Study Group, and she has received special awards for promoting ikebana outside of Japan and Japanese art and culture in Minnesota.”

This collaboration between Park Square Theatre and Cerulean Fire will bring together multiple arts communities to create a broad diverse audience. Nothing like Musical and Floral Metamorphosis: Concerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings has been done in the Twin Cities before, and it’s happening in one performance only. Don’t miss out on this special opportunity!

Tickets and information here.

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ANOTHER GUEST EVENT NOT TO MISS AT PARK SQUARE THEATRE:

TaikoArts Midwest presents Taiko Tuesday with a free concert by Enso Daiko
Tuesday, May 22, 7 pm – Proscenium Stage
Reserve free seats here

 

Taiko Tuesday: A Gift from the Heart

Experience the energy of Ensō Daiko
(Photo by Jeff Sandeen)

On Tuesday, May 22, at 7 pm, Ensō Daiko performs a free concert on Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium stage as part of TaikoArts Midwest’s Taiko Tuesdays series. Come see Minnesota’s premier taiko ensemble in an energetic performance of music, dance, culture and pure athleticism!

While taiko often includes a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments, the term itself simply means drum in Japanese. Outside of Japan, taiko commonly refers to the style of ensemble drumming called kumi-daiko, with its emphasis on the art form as performance. There are so many ways to play a drum and to choreograph a routine–something you see firsthand whenever Ensō Daiko performs.

Jennifer Weir beats the drum!
(Photo by Rich Ryan)

Ensō Daiko is led by Jennifer Weir, who is also Executive Director of TaikoArts Midwest. She instantly fell in love with taiko over two decades ago when first introduced to it by Rick Shiomi, the founder of Mu Daiko, and readily became one of its original members. In 2017, Mu Daiko was renamed Ensō Daiko, with Jennifer newly at its helm.

Ensō is a Japanese word meaning circle, a symbol that is simultaneously simple yet packed with deep meanings: togetherness, strength, elegance, enlightenment, the moment when the mind is free to let the body create, the acceptance of imperfection as perfect (wabi sabi) and the void (mu). Ensō reflects taiko itself–an art form that is at once accessible for its simplicity but conveys those similar rich concepts.

An enso by brush painter and teacher Bob Schmitt of Laughing Waters Studio
({Photo by Bob Schmitt)

Ensō Daiko’s performance at Park Square Theatre will be the ninth concert in the Taiko Tuesdays series. According to Jennifer, Taiko Tuesdays were purposely designed to break down barriers that may prevent broad participation. With that in mind, they decided to perform 12 rather than just one concert and to do so in a variety of locations, all at no cost to attendees.

“We also wanted to show the range and depth of the art,” said Jennifer, “so each concert is different for you to be able to see various styles and aesthetics.”

Enso Daiko in performance
(Photo by Rich Ryan)

This effort is often supported by inviting guest artists to join them, which has brought the additional benefit of infusing the group with “super development” through the opportunity to learn from a much greater number of collaborating artists per year. Certainly, part of Ensō Daiko’s dynamism comes from its openness to different influences and creative exploration, even as it draws from tradition.

For those who would like a double dose of taiko, also consider attending TaikoArts Midwest’s open house on April 29 from 2-5 pm at their new studio space in St. Paul. You’ll be able to watch and meet performers, participate in drumming activities and enjoy refreshments.

Music is considered a universal language. By crossing the ocean, taiko follows in the broader tradition of music to bring people together. Don’t miss the chance to personally experience “the heartbeat of Japan” and engage with the power or life force of this ephemeral art form. It will blow your mind!

 

Ensō Daiko in an ensō workshop with artist Bob Schmitt

 

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Tickets for Ensō Daiko’s performance here

Find out about other “must see” Guest Events at Park Square Theatre here:

Including: Musical and Floral Metamorphosis: Premiere of Concerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings – June 10, 4 pm – Andy Boss Stage (featuring Cerulean Fire, conductor Nobuyoshi Yasuda and Sogetsu Ikebana)

 

 

Tickets

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