Missy Mazzoli and Nadia Sirota introduce the String Theory Festival at the Walker

Last night at the Walker Art Center, composer Missy Mazzoli and violist Nadia Sirota -- we'd like to say 'kicked off' right here but that is a completely inappropriate idiom for what happened -- welcomed the String Theory Festival with a performance in the hodge-podge of Gallery 2.

As a piece consisting of a 30-minute-long loop of a woman circulating rocks in her mouth faded in the background, Sirota and Mazzoli's set began. Over roughly 40 minutes, the two took the crowd on a walk through a romantic desert, Mazzoli's hand on the keyboard like a lifted kerchief, inching out warm perpendiculars, all half-tied and intersected by Sirota's gorgeous, unmoored viola (and punctuated by her beautifully expressive face). Classically trained Mazzoli's work is heavily informed by two decades -- I would say particularly the '90s melancholia -- of avant-electronic progression, walking up to the point of classical music's 'return home' satisfaction, but not opening the door. It's 2011, we don't need that lozenge anymore.

And it's an odd feeling, a musical performance in a museum space, especially one as stark and scattershot as Gallery 2 -- it takes away the catholic air of these usually hushed spaces, lets in a little living.

The String Theory Festival continues through the weekend, and you can see Mazzoli perform with her quintet Victoire on Sunday, and violist Nadia Sirota tonight at the the History Theatre.

Here's a list of the events:

FRIDAY, APRIL 15 8pm, History Theatre, St. Paul
Owen Pallett, Nat Baldwin and yMusic strings
A triple bill featuring each artist/ensemble with backing by the others
New arrangements by Rob Moose (yMusic) for music of Owen Pallett and Nat Baldwin
Tickets: $22, $15 student (advance), $12 student rush
General Admission

SATURDAY, APRIL 16 5pm, UBS Forum (MPR), St. Paul
New Amsterdam Records showcase concert
Members of ACME and yMusic perform new works for New Amsterdam Records by William Brittelle, Caleb Burhans, Judd Greenstein, Nico Muhly, and Sarah Kirkland Snider, plus the world premiere of new expanded arrangements by Rob Moose of his own solo works.
Tickets: $15, $12 student rush
General Admission
Post-show reception at MPR

SATURDAY, APRIL 16 8pm, History Theatre, St. Paul
String Sampler
Tom Hagerman of Devotchka (with full band), Anni Rossi trio, Bang on a Can's Robert Black (world premiere: new work by Mary Ellen Childs), and Mississippi Peace
Tickets: $24, $15 student (advance), $12 student rush
General Admission

SUNDAY, APRIL 17 7pm, History Theatre, St. Paul
JACK Quartet & Victoire
Split bill featuring two exciting, virtuosic and oft-praised classical ensembles
Victoire to perform works from their new release Cathedral City. Jack Quartet to perform Contritus by Caleb Burhans (MN Premiere), Dig Deep by Julia Wolfe and Tetras by Iannis Xenakis.
Tickets: $24, $15 student (advance), $12 student rush
General Admission


SATURDAY, APRIL 16 2pm, McNally Smith Recital Hall
Minnesota String and Orchestra Teachers Association presents winners of the Eclectic Strings Competition, ages 10-25
Non-ticketed event

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