String Theory Festival is coming to rearrange your brains

​Across five venues, seven partners, and four days, the String Theory Music Festival will be set upon the Twin Cities (both of them!) this April 14-17 in a grand gesture towards reframing the modern and historical position of - but of course - stringed instruments. The festival will feature performances, workshops, and classes.

The three-day festival has several local living lighthouses involved including: Martin Devaney, Dessa, Heiruspecs, and Chris Koza as well as national artists including Owen Pallett, Devotchka's Tom Hagerman, and Dirty Projectors' Nat Baldwin taking part across the board.

Chris Cunningham, McNally Smith's head of songwriting and composition and principal in the planning of String Theory, says of our modern age of re-contextualization: "While the sight of a stage full of violins, violas, cellos, and basses is five or six centuries old, recent years have seen increased visibility of these instruments in popular music. And the use of computers, controllers, software, and artificial intelligence in general have pushed even further the boundaries of what is musically possible."

Indeed, festival participant Owen Pallett has done more than his fair share of easing the violin into digi-modernity; Pallett's fuckery is a gorgeous thing, steeped in classical training and pop progression (nearly) equally. At the Varsity last year he flitted effortlessly between bass-oomphed chest-punch plucks and virtuosic passages, demonstrating his well-considered corner of modern violin.

Here's the currently released details of the fest:

Public concerts

THURSDAY, APRIL 14 6pm-8pm (3, 20-minute sets), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis: Gallery 2

"Sound Horizon" featuring Missy Mazzoli & Nadia Sirota
Non-ticketed event, part of Walker Free Thursdays

THURSDAY, APRIL 14 7:30pm, Southern Theater, Minneapolis
"Southern Songbook" installment 3
The Rites of String: Intersection of song, songwriter and strings
Hosted by Chris Koza and Adam Levy
Guests musicians include Dessa, Mississippi Peace, Martin Devaney, Eliza Blue and Chan Poling
With music director dVRG and the instrumentalists of Heiruspecs as house band
Tickets: $25, $22, $12 student rush
Reserved Seating

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

Workshops/Master Classes

THURSDAY, April 14 1pm-5pm McNally Smith Auditorium and recording studios, St. Paul

McNally Smith College of Music presents an in-the-studio master class on string arranging and production with members of yMusic recording original works by two selected McNally Smith composition majors. Open to the public and participating high school music students, including Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Event will be webcast live.

Other workshops and master classes will be announced soon on the Southern's event page.

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