In September, the arts and entertainment schedule in southern Minnesota gets a lot more cramped.
With schools back in session and performance groups ready to start their fall seasons, now is the time to put a few notes on the calendar. Here are some upcoming highlights:
Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Though conductor Ken Freed now resides in Seattle, he is returning to conduct the upcoming season, titled "These Are Our Songs." Though the symphonic season doesn't kick off until the Oct. 6 concert featuring the music of Sibelius and Brahms, MSO will host the first of its family concert series on Sept. 21 (this year's theme: "Viva Vivaldi") and a "Music and Brews" event on Sept. 27.
Some season highlights include: The world premier of "Songs About Rainbows," a piece featuring the music of Jim Henson and "The Muppets, on Feb. 9; and the appearance of Harvard-trained practicing psychiatrist and world-renowned concert pianist Richard Kogan for the "Deconstructing Rachmaninoff" concert on March 2 that will be preceded by a lecture on how mental illness affects creative output.
For more info: www.mankatosymphony.com
MSU Theatre: To keep pace with what is annually one of the most ambitious and demanding collegiate performance schedules in the country, the Minnesota State University Department of Theatre and Dance cannot afford to waste time. Auditions begin the first day of fall classes and the department's first production typically opens less than a month afterward.
This year, "Sky Girls" — a historical drama about female World War II fliers — kicks off the Studio season Sept. 18-21. The department follows with its first-ever presentation of "Les Miserables" to open its Mainstage season on Oct. 3.
Season highlights include: "Crumbs from the Table of Joy," to be directed by MSU graduate and founder of the nationally recognized Penumbra Theatre Lou Bellamy, beginning on Nov. 7; MSU's debut production of the wry and delightful show-within-a-show "The Drowsy Chaperone" beginning April 10; and, a showcase of original short plays by MSU students beginning April 23.