Today's nomination for the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series takes us to Mahnomen County in Northwest Minnesota.
Mahnomen County Fairgrounds
Comet Bowen sent me a brief note submitting the WPA-era buildings of Mahnomen County for the series, including the county fairgrounds and the city hall. While I couldn't find any information on the city hall, here's what the Minnesota Historical Society has to say about the fairgrounds:
Architect: George H. Carter
First held in Minnesota in the mid-1850s, agricultural fairs provided a gathering spot for the state's farming communities. The harvest celebrations served as social events, educational forums and business opportunities. Fair exhibits featured modern farming techniques and current agricultural research, while livestock and horticultural displays allowed farmers to compare their products. Amusement areas, including rides, games and sideshows, kept fairgoers entertained. The fairs also provided a forum for fund-raising and political discussion of farming issues.
The Mahnomen County Fairgrounds, built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, has retained five of its original wood-frame buildings, along with an entrance gate and ticket office of indigenous stone. The largest building and focal point of the fairgrounds is the Livestock Pavilion, a hipped-roof, wood-frame building in three sections connected by covered walkways. All contributing buildings on the grounds exhibit architectural characteristics promoted by the WPA, particularly high-quality craftsmanship.
Thanks to Comet Bowen for the nomination. Have you got a building you'd like to submit to the series? Send a photo or two, along with an explanation of why the building appeals to you, to email@example.com.
Photo credit: Curtis Johnson
In this Sunday's New York Times, James Oestreich reviewed Twin Cities vocal ensemble Cantus' latest CD, "That Eternal Day." Oestreich compares and contrasts the album with two other releases by Ensemble Phoenix Munich and Apollo's Fire.
While Oestreich had some positive things to say about "That Eternal Day," overall he found it lacking. Here's what he had to say:
When the male chorus Cantus of Minnesota takes up "Simple Gifts" on its new CD, "That Eternal Day" (Cantus Recordings CTS-1210), in an arrangement by Stephen Caracciolo, tenors alternate lines, distending each sentimentally and pausing distractedly, over a backdrop of drones. Then in the chorus ("When true simplicity is gained") things get really complicated, with soupy harmonies that occasionally curdle; busy counterpoint; more stops and starts; more drones; repeated changes of direction. It's exhausting.
...Cantus fares better in William Walker's foursquare hymn "Wondrous Love," from "The Southern Harmony," with a vigorous, mostly straightforward a cappella.
...Individual comparisons aside, the Cantus recording offers many satisfactions, none greater than a touching, ineffably simple performance of "The 23rd Psalm (Dedicated to My Mother)" by Bobby McFerrin. But this is also the most problematic disc over all. From its opening -- the spiritual "There's a Meeting Here Tonight," in an arrangement full of finger snapping, hand clapping and humming -- the group is prone to a certain peppy slickness. The vocalization is typically polished, but there are lapses in the discipline essential to a cappella performance, notably in enunciation (on one occasion, "true zimplizity").
You can read the full review here.
Well, as you might imagine, some folks over at MPR Classical (where the members of Cantus have been "artists in residence" for the past year) were not in agreement with Oestreich's review. Check back later today for a rebuttal from MPR's Brian Newhouse.
The review, by James Oestreich, was less than stellar, and had at least one MPR Classical host, Brian Newhouse, fuming. He writes:
I think Mr. Oestreich needs to do a little more exercising, if he finds Cantus' version of Simple Gifts "exhausting." I first put Cantus' That Eternal Day into the car CD player on an overcast autumn afternoon last year. That very track, Stephen Caracciolo's arrangement of Simple Gifts, was the most beautiful thing on disc I'd heard all year. A first: I pulled over and listened to it three times in a row. When I put the car in gear again, the world was less gray, a little more illumined by beauty. How Mr. Oestreich hears this music as curdled and soupy is absolutely stupefying to me. What's that they say beauty being in the eye of the beholder?
However, Cantus Executive Director Mary Lee points out that sometimes a little negative attention is better than no attention at all:
We were thrilled that our latest disc, "That Eternal Day," was noticed and reviewed by the NYTimes. Cantus does not have the PR power of a label and doesn't use a national publicist, so the fact that the NYTimes has brought this recording to the attention of its national and international audience is very good news for us. And whether we agree or not with his specific comments, critical or constructive feedback is always much more welcome than none at all.
Have you listened to "That Eternal Day?" If so, what do you think of the album?(1 Comments)