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South African singer Vusi Mahlasela on stage.

South African singer Vusi Mahlasela will perform his blend of folk, rock, and traditional African music at the free "Summer at Northrop" concert on Wednesday, July 7, at 8 p.m. on Northrop plaza.

Celebrating 50 years of "Summer at Northrop"

From eNews, June 10, 2004

In 1954, the Minnesota Orchestra first performed a free concert for University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff on Northrop plaza. The event, which was offered in appreciation for its temporary digs at Northrop Auditorium, launched the tradition of free outdoor performances by local and international artists on the Twin Cities campus. Every year, more than 20 concerts are held in June and July.

"I don't know of another university that rivals this long-standing tradition," says Jack Johnson, director of the Summer Session program, which presents the concerts. "The music with influences from all over the world, the aroma of grilling at the University's brat stand, and picnic tables crowded with people make the plaza in front of Northrop Auditorium an inviting place to be day after day. It's great to have this community atmosphere each summer."

The five-member Patrick Harison Band will perform on June 14 from noon to 1 p.m. with music that will get people tapping their fingers or shaking their bodies. According to the band's Web site, its brand of Cajun music is "what happens when you throw together a New Orleans accordion player, a well-traveled blues guitar man, a fierce fiddler, a free-jazz bassist, and one really insane drummer." In addition to music, concert goers can enjoy free cake, ice cream, and commemorative Frisbees; meet University president Bob Bruininks; and win a prize in the raffle drawing.

Other bands playing this anniversary season--from Tuesday, June 15, to Wednesday, July 28--include Yawo, Echoes of Ellington, Cafi Accordion Orchestra, Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, and the Michael Hauser Flamenco Quintet with guest dancer Debra Elias Morse. There will also be a free evening concert on Wednesday, July 7, on Northrop plaza by guitarist and percussionist Vusi Mahlasela. Considered a national treasure in his homeland of South Africa, Mahlasela sang songs of hope in the crusade to end apartheid and was featured at the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela. All concerts are noon to 1 p.m., and if it rains, they will be moved inside to Northrop Auditorium. For a complete list bands and their types of music, see www.northrop.umn.edu.

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