Posted at 12:00 PM on October 11, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Music
Minneapolis composer and musician Spencer Wirth-Davis (a.k.a. Big Cats of the duo The Tribe & Big Cats) lost his mother to ovarian cancer two years ago.
When he later received a 2011 McKnight composers fellowship, he decided to create something in her honor.
"After all, if it weren't for her, I probably wouldn't be making music today. Growing up, she devoted an incredible amount of time, effort and money to my music. She drove me to lessons, rehearsals, and band practices. She put up with noise at all hours, records strewn around the house, and my tendency to play the largest instruments possible. She was always the first to hear any new music I was working on and give feedback. When she was going through chemotherapy, surgeries and countless procedures, she often used music to help her relax and take her mind off of her treatment."
Tonight Wirth-Davis celebrates the release of his new album "For My Mother" with a performance at the Cedar Cultural Center. 75% of the proceeds from the album will go to the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
The album is an instrumental Hip Hop/R&B record, said Wirth-Davis, featuring "original" samples.
"I wanted to create an album that sounded like it was built around samples, because that's the sound I love and grew up listening to. Sampling has shaped the sound of hip hop since it's inception. However, it's getting more and more difficult for artists to create, and profit from, sample-based music. The cost of clearing samples and the potential legal ramifications of using uncleared samples make it nearly impossible to create and sell sample-based music."
Instead Wirth-Davis recorded a slew of his own compositions with a nine piece band, and then pulled samples from his original music to create a beautiful, moody soundscape.
Any mother would be proud.
You can listen to the album here.
Sun Yung Shin is out with her second book of poetry, "Rough, and Savage." Shin is the author of Skirt Full of Black, winner of the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry in 2008. She is also the author of the bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children, Cooper's Lesson.
Sun Yung Shin
Photo: Dan Markworth
Sun Yung Shin will read from her poetry at Banfille-Locke Center for the Arts this Friday night along with poet Scott Wrobel. Here's a sample of her work.
Like a wedding ring, or the bride's green ribbon, you shelter me.
No business but war.You remind me of a kind of heaven.
A cairn of rocks casting shadows in the shape of a man.
Thou art the table before me in the sight of my adversaries, thou dost
anoint my head: oil and rain, thou art a ghost with a girl's mouth,
thou art not the making of my dreams--under water, under cliff,
under this long suitcase of earth and bombs.More than any mortal
could gather beneath the skirt of the sky.
You are never eager, nor famished, nor pale with a craving for white
clothes or my nocturnes.
Let your lynx approach, even tiger, even its wild outline.
You need no ferryman or the obolus of the dead.
If I put a coin in my mouth I taste copper, not the corpse.
They say that bodies fertilized the ground so well the trees grow
bright and tall.The bones blur.We return alive.
- "(Demilitarized Zone)" is reprinted by permission from Rough, and Savage (Coffee House Press, 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Sun Yung Shin.
What's clicking for the hounds this week? A performance by Minnesota's Poet Laureate in Brainerd, a rising beat maker's instrumental homage to his mother, and a play about the lives of refugees in America.
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Fargo theater artist Brad Delzer has been waiting for a play like "Anon(ymous)" to come to Fargo-Moorhead, especially with its growing refugee population. "Anon(ymous)," originally written for the Children's Theater Company by Naomi Iizuka, is about what a young refugee boy encounters as he scours America, searching for his lost family. It's on stage this weekend only at the Little Country Theater at North Dakota State University.
When freelance music writer and Background Noise Crew CEO and producer Ali Elabbady heard "For My Mother," the newest offering from Minneapolis hip hop producer and beat maker Big Cats, aka Spencer Wirth Davis, he was moved. "For My Mother" is a collection of instrumental compositions converted into hip hop tracks and dedicated to Big Cats' mother, who passed away two years ago from ovarian cancer. Big Cats will celebrate the new album with a show tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center.
If you want to "feel Minnesota" through poetry, Northfield poet Joe Concannon says you need to see the state's poet laureate, Joyce Sutphen, read her work. Sutphen will deliver the goods on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 7pm, at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
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As schools work to increase student test scores in math, science and reading, arts education is often pushed aside, according to a survey to be released today by the Perpich Center for Arts Education.
According to the survey, fewer than half of all middle and high schools, and only 28 percent of elementary schools offer all of the required arts, drama, music and dance classes.
Joel Byer directs the Apple Valley High School select choir during a practice on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Arts is a big part of student life at Apple Valley High, on par with academics and athletics.
MPR Photo/Tim Post
Tim Post reports that, as schools shift resources to improve test scores, arts classes are often the first to go.
The authors of the Perpich study argue that music, drama and other arts should be elevated to the same academic level as math, science and reading.
That means schools should be held accountable for their arts education offerings, perhaps by requiring them to test students on the arts. They also want the state to better fund arts programs at schools, a goal that resonates with Minnesota teachers.
"I think it's really important that our state and our school districts realize that they need to fund and support the arts just as strongly as they fund math and reading," said Kris Holsen, an elementary art and theater teacher in Brooklyn Park and president elect of the Arts Educators of Minnesota.
Research shows students involved in music, art and drama, do better in math, science and reading, Holsen said.
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The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and its musicians met for contract talks today. Since the orchestra's musician contract expired last month, the orchestra has been in what's called 'play & talk' mode, which lets both sides keep negotiating while the musicians continue performing under the old contract. SPCO management proposed that the musicians play and talk under the terms of the orchestra's latest offer, which would cut musician salaries by 15-percent. Musicians rejected the idea.
SPCO Interim President Dobson West says the orchestra would like to continue the 'play and talk' process, but needs to do it in a financially responsible way.
"We cannot afford to continue to play and talk under the current contract. It is just too expensive for us. And at some point, the union needs to acknowledge that we need to have substantial savings from the costs of the contract."
The musicians say they're still digesting the terms of the orchestra's latest offer but say they are not happy with most of it. Trumpet player Lynn Erickson is with the musicians' negotiating committee.
"If we were to accept their proposal right now and play and talk under it, they would start to implement all of the things that they would like to happen under their proposal, and we don't agree with many of the things in their proposal."
Erickson says the musicians offered to continue playing and talking under the old contract but at a reduced base salary rate of $70-thousand a year. The orchestra rejected that approach, saying it would still add to the orchestra's one million dollar deficit..
When asked whether the SPCO was preparing to lock out its musicians, West responded that the orchestra couldn't keep the current 'play and talk' process going much longer. The two sides are scheduled to meet again tomorrow.