Best bets: 'Matthew Shepard,' hip-hop, Handel

This week's top picks in local arts and entertainment

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Choral group adds 'Considering Matthew Shepard' encores

“Considering Matthew Shepard” is a three-part oratorio by Minnesota composer Craig Hella Johnson that tells the story of a young gay man who was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead on a wooden fence in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming.

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Twin Ports Choral Project will perform "Considering Matthew Shepard" again this weekend. (File / News Tribune)

Twin Ports Choral Project premiered the 90-minute piece that mixes musical styles, perspectives and mediums in November. The group is offering two encore performances, directed by Bret Amundson, this weekend at the NorShor Theatre.
Twin Ports Choral Project’s “Considering Matthew Shepard” is at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-22 at the NorShor Theatre, 211 E. Superior St. Tickets: $25 at .


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J. Holiday (photo from Facebook)

J. Holiday plays Spurs

J. Holiday, a mid-2000s hip-hop artist best known for “Bed” and “Suffocate,” plays Saturday alongside MacMillian at Spurs. The pretty-voiced artist who was raised in Washington, D.C., was nominated for a Grammy Award for his album “Back of My Lac’.” He released “Guilty Conscience” in 2013 and, since last year, there has been Facebook chatter about a new album.

J. Holiday plays at 9 p.m. Feb. 22 at Spurs on First, 109 W. First St. Tickets: $35 at , Spurs on First at Westyle Fashion.

(Duluth Playhouse)

'The Arsonists' opens at The Underground

Goetlieb Biedermann sees what’s happening around him, but would never let it happen to him: his neighbors are allowing strangers into their homes and, meanwhile, there have been a series of house fires.
Cut to Biederman, a salesman, a cigar aficionado, allowing two people to take over his attic — nevermind the heavy barrels and all those questions about matches.
“The Arsonists,” a dark comedy, was written in the early 1950s by Swiss playwright Max Frisch as a response to the political scene in Germany. A production at the The Underground is directed by Mike Pederson and stars John Pokrzywinski and Cheryl Skafte.
“The Arsonists” opens is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday Feb. 20-29 at The Underground, 506 W. Superior St. Tickets: $20 at .

Matt Wilson & His Orchestra (Photo by Paul Irmiter)


Matt W ilson & His Orchestra play Blush

Minnesota musician Matt Wilson, formerly of Trip Shakespeare, returns after a brief songwriting hiatus with Matt Wilson & His Orchestra — which is a month out from releasing its full length debut album, “When I was a Writer.” Wilson says in the pre-album publicity that the mix is a reaction to death. “I had this strong sense that I was running out of time,” he says in a news release. “I was sincerely worried that I might lose my mind before I was able to show the world the way I wanted my music to sound.”

Matt Wilson & His Orchestra plays at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Blush, 18 N. First Ave. W. Tickets: $10 at eventbrite .

Cities Never Sleep (Submitted photo)

Cities Never Sleep returns to Wussow's

Cities Never Sleep, a pop punk band with a Duluth origin story, returns for a show Friday at Wussow’s Concert Cafe. Also playing: Vermillion Heights, Mint Vintage and FFTW.

Cities Never Sleep recently released the album “Try Hard, Forever,” which they describe as having “hooks for days and instrumentation that will hit you like a Mack truck with a license plat that says ‘pizza.’”

Cities Never Sleep, Vermillion Heights, Mint Vingate, FFTW play at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Wussow’s Concert Cafe, 324 N. Central Ave. Tickets: $6.


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Alan Berg plays Sacred Heart Music Center’s Felgemaker organ before a fundraising concert in 2015. (File / News Tribune)

Happy b-day, Handel

A 334th birthday isn’t necessarily one of the milestone years, but organists gotta organ, right. The Friends of the Felgemaker — a group dedicated to the 1897 organ that they’re maintaining at Sacred Heart Music Center — is celebrating George Frederic Handel’s birthday with a program of works ranging from concerto to opera.

Happy Birthday, Handel is at 3 p.m. Feb. 23 at Sacred Heart Music Center, 201 W. Fourth St. Donations accepted

Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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