The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 5, 2013

Don't miss: MN Valley Chorale spring concerts, River Rats Dueling Pianos

MANKATO — With Eric Harstad now officially named the conductor of the Minnesota Valley Chorale, the performance group will hold its annual spring concerts this weekend.

Harstad, a Hutchinson music teacher and doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, assumed interim duties last year in the wake of Rod Urtel’s retirement into the singing section of the Chorale. He’ll kick off his official role Saturday and Sunday when the Minnesota Valley Chorale performs Haydn’s Mass in G “Sancti Nicolai” as well as other selections. The Chorale will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra and keyboard.

Harstad, who has agreed to conduct for the next two seasons, described the Haydn selection as tuneful and varied.

“It’s the kind of thing people will like the first time they hear it,” he said.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. on April 6 at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Mankato; and 3 p.m. on April 7 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Mankato. Tickets are available at the door for $15 ($12 for students and seniors).

River Rats Dueling Pianos perform in New Ulm

NEW ULM — The River Rats Dueling Pianos will perform at the New Ulm Event Center at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

The performance is free and open to the public.

The Minneapolis-based River Rats are Jim Steinworth and Cal Spooner, a pair of well-traveled musicians who have built an astonishing repertoire of songs.

Steinworth began playing piano at age 4 and has dueled on piano all over the country since 1990. Spooner, a former frontman for the Whitesidewalls, has played in a variety of rock n’ roll show bands.

From the River Rats’ website:

“The River Rats literally beat the music out of the grand pianos. Jim and Cal slam the lids, they pound the tops, they even walk on the pianos. ... Everyone has a good time.”

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