O is for October, opera, ‘Odyssey,’ objects

Published 9:57 am Friday, October 5, 2012

Column: Eileen Nelson Ness, Eye on the Arts

October is a time filled with colorful leaves, crisp autumn days and plenty of things to do in Albert Lea. This October we have music from Alaska, Ireland, Germany, Italy and the United States, along with comedy, drama, arts and crafts.

Eileen Nelson Ness

Starting off the month is the annual Big Island Rendezvous on Saturday and Sunday. There are plenty of arts to see and experience at the Rendezvous, with woodworking, blacksmiths, candle making and jewelry, to name a few. The gates open at 9 a.m. each day. Tickets are adults at $10 and kids age 6 to 11 at $6 with kids under age 5 being free. You can experience life in the Voyageur encampment, have Native American tepee tours, and see the Scottish Clann Tartan, and the New Ulm Battery with fun for all. Call 800-658-2526 for discount tickets and family passes and more information.

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The Marion Ross Performing Arts Center is a hopping place these days.  Mark your calendars for the three big events happening there this month.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, The Alaskan String Band, “Odyessy” will present a concert. This is an engaging and uniquely Alaskan musical  group comprising members of a single family. They perform with guitar, twin violin-fiddles, bass, mandolin, ukulele, percussion and vocals. Their repertoire consists of bluegrass, old time, gospel, swing, blues, Celtic and original music. Featured are beautiful waltzes, airs and haunting melodies with vocal blends heard only in this family’s arrangements. This family comprises dad, Paul, whose roots are from Iowa; mom, Melissa; and three talented children. The family exhibits extraordinary musicianship, technical and interpretive skills you won’t want to miss. Energetic dancing and attractive costumes reflect the spirit of Alaskan artistic lifestyle, culture and traditions that lend an excitement and a dramatic flare to the show.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets for Albert Lea Community Theatre’s first production of the season, do it today. “The Dixie Swim Club” opens on Thursday. This delightful comedy follows five friends from the college swim team who meet every year at a beach cabin to spend three days away from husbands, kids and the problems of life! We see the women at ages 45, 50, 55 and 77 with all the foibles of life emerging with humor and brutal candor!

It is a hilarious evening of fun and laughter, directed by our own Glen Parsons. Enjoy the nonstop zingers that run throughout the play.  Dates of the show are Oct. 11-13 and 17-20.  Showtime is at 7:30 p.m.

The Met: Live in HD comes to Albert Lea on Oct. 13 with the first live opera simulcast beginning at noon with Donizetti’s comic opera, “The Elixer of Love.” If you have never been to an opera, come and try it.  There will be a gala opening beginning at 11 a.m. with refreshments and music in the Green Room for those coming to the opera. At intermission you will see a live, backstage interview with cast and crew of the opera. Then on Oct. 27, the Met Opera will stream Verdi’s “Otello.” There will be 12 operas this season from October through April.

This is such a wonderful addition to our community. These simulcasts are direct from New York City, and the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center is the only independent theater in Minnesota to be given permission to show these simulcasts. Check out www.AlbertLeaCivicMusic.com for more information.

For all performances at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, you can purchase tickets online at www.ACTonBroadway.com or call 377-4371, the box office.  You can also pick up tickets from 4 to 7 p.m. at the theater.

The Southeastern Minnesota Chamber Orchestra presents “A Night At the Pops with Diane Heaney,” filled with music from the movies, Broadway stage and radio at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the Albert Lea High School auditorium. Tickets are available now at First Lutheran Church and the Lighthouse Event Center.  Come and see our own local talent on stage.

Albert Lea Art Center has an interesting program called “Repurposed Art, Found Objects: Thrifty and Nifty.” Opening day was Thursday. However, it runs through Nov. 3. Don’t forget “The Albert Lea Art Center goes Western” on Oct. 18 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club. The entertainment is by Lang & Lang with vocalist Stephanie Erdman. There will be singing waiters, beer tasting and appetizers with a cash bar. Artists featured will be Harlan Bang with a silent auction of 18 local artists.

We finish up the month with the second concert of the Albert Lea Civic Music series presenting Cahal Dunne’s “Grand to be Irish” show at the high school auditorium on Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. Cahal Dunne is a songwriter, a masterful pianist, a comedian and one of Ireland’s best vocalists.  He possesses that certain magical quality that comes from a great entertainer that connects with an audience. It is still not too late to purchase a season ticket.

Also don’t forget to be involved with the arts. There are numerous groups in Albert Lea that are always looking for participants. Dust off your instruments and come and play in the Community Band or Southeastern Minnesota Chamber Orchestra. Groups like Albert Lea Cantori, Harmony Junction, Carryaires and other groups are always interested in more singings. There is something for everyone. Come, celebrate and support all the wonderful arts happening right here in our hometown!


Eileen Nelson Ness is the music director at the United Methodist Church, director of the Albert Lea Cantori and a freelance musician in the Albert Lea area.