Out Of Office: December 2015
Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile is slated to take over the hosting duties for A Prairie Home Companion after Garrison Keillor retires, so we might as well get to know him. Punch Brothers is the former Nickel Creek frontman’s more musically adventurous band—a bluegrass-based acoustic group that branches off into classical, jazz, pop, Americana and several other directions no one has bothered to label yet. As always, extraordinary musicianship holds it all together. Special guest: singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane.
Dec. 3, State Theatre, Mpls., 612-339-7007, hennepintheatretrust.org
VocalEssence’s Welcome Christmas
Of all the holiday shows performed in town year-in and -out—and there are lots of them—VocalEssence’s Welcome Christmas is easily the most spiritually uplifting of the bunch. This year, the celebrated choir ensemble will perform Nils Lindberg’s “A Christmas Cantata” for chorus and big band, the world premieres of two carols for choir and trumpet—and, as always, a smattering of seasonal favorites.
Dec. 5-13, various locations, 612-547-1451, vocalessence.org
The Great Work
7th House Theater takes over the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio with a musical that harks back to a time when art and revolution went hand in hand. Set in 19th-century Vienna, the musical takes place on the eve of a world premiere by a famous composer—an event that inflames all kinds of audience passions. It’s written and directed by Grant Sorenson, with music and lyrics by David Darrow and choreography by Cat Brindisi.
Dec. 20-Jan. 3, Guthrie Theater, Mpls., 612-377-2224, guthrietheater.org
The Bad Plus
Arguably the hippest jazz trio the Twin Cities has ever produced, the members of The Bad Plus have taken to calling themselves “progressive jazz scientists,” a term that captures the group’s experimental awesomeness with some humorously clinical understatement. Bad Plus performances are wild, free-flowing affairs that draw power from all corners of the musical universe—particularly classic rock, folk, blues, pop—and use it to rocket listeners to unexpected places. It’s not rocket science, exactly, but it often sounds like it.
Dec. 25-28, Dakota Jazz Club, Mpls., 612-332-5299, dakotacooks.com