Essential Seasonal Concerts

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October 25, 2004 // UPDATED 4:26 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Election-time antidote

Whatever side of this presidential race you're on, we all need a break after the last few nail-biting months, and PBS satirist Mark Russell is just the antidote. Matching his wry, clever and highly enjoyable commentary to ragtime piano, Russell promises to lightly offend everyone. With his egalitarian funny-making -- no political persuasion is safe from Russell's good-natured scrutiny -- everyone will also get to chuckle at the "other side" and feel vindicated in their views. Talk about bringing the people together!

Get ready to laugh, cringe and groan at a plethora of puns and rhymes that, in the end, manage to put the whole thing in perfect perspective.

Saturday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $20-$35. 371-5656.

Boo!

Halloween has to be the best holiday. In addition to offering positive reinforcement to kids and adults for doing totally goofy things, All Hallow's Eve gives us an excuse to celebrate some great, dark music.

Halloween afternoon, The Minnesota Orchestra will perform such spooky classics as Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" ("The Dance of Death") and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," a piece so strident and stirring, a driving safety research group classified it as the number one song not to listen to while driving.

Giant puppets from In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in South Minneapolis will parade, dance and taunt to make it a truly spooktacular affair.

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2 and 4 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $12-$35. 371-5656.

Crazy legs

Watching Riverdance performances always reminds me of that scene in the book "Catch-22" wherein Major Major Major Major (he's an army Major and his first, middle and last names are all "Major") contemplates how to get his soldiers to march in parade formation without moving their arms. It seems like the more frenetically the Riverdancers move the tighter they hold their arms and hands.

I'm sure there's some political statement being made here, such as how the Irish have been so repressed over the ages that they're unable to properly express themselves via their upper limbs.

. . . OK, maybe not, but the symbol-laden show invites if not promotes such metaphoric speculation. To begin with, each Riverdance company is named after an Irish river. "The Boyne," the company touring North America, is named after Binn, the goddess of the Boyne river. And according to the Riverdance Web site, "In 1690, the banks of the Boyne witnessed one of the most important battles in Irish history where King William's victory over the ousted King James II of England marked the beginning of England's centuries-long domination of Ireland."

Whatever the case, it's obvious that this fast-paced, foot-stomping show has influenced the world. Even Missy Elliot's last tour featured hip-hop dancers Riverdancing in the background.

Nov. 23-28, various times, Historic Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. $39.50-$59.50. 673-0404.

Bette!

Saucy actress, comedian and songstress Bette Midler is once again coming to town. Along with the hits and comedic bits that have made her famous, the lovely Ms. Divine will perform material from her newest release, "Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook."

Clooney is perhaps most known for starring alongside Bing Crosby in "White Christmas," but she was certainly a star in her own right. In fact, Clooney received the Grammy "Lifetime Achievement Award" shortly before she passed away in 2002

On Midler's homage album, she is joined by her original piano player and musical director -- Barry Manilow. However, there's no word yet on whether Mr. Manilow is expected to join her on stage. But we know who is the real star here (this is the "Kiss My Brass!" tour, after all) so just about anyone could sit behind the piano and make due.

Sunday, Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. Target Center, 600 1st Ave. N. $49.50-$219.50. (651) 989.5151.

Little (and fully intact) angels

Just to make things clear, the heavenly Vienna Boys Choir is restocked with new talent every season to compensate for cracking and deepening voices. But surely these boys sound as good as their compatriot castrati did five centuries ago.

The legendary Austrian choir has been performing in the United States since 1932 and is considered the most popular choir ever to tour North America. In addition to sacred works such as Handel's "Messiah," the 10- to 14-year-olds are also known for top-notch renditions of songs by The Beatles and Madonna. So you never know what to expect.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2106 S. 4th St. Call for prices. 626-1892.