For three decades Dan Chouinard has been pianist and accordionist of choice for a who’s who of Twin Cities performers, an enabler of community singalongs and a writer of hit shows for public radio, concert hall and theatrical stage.
The list of regular Twin Cities colleagues includes Maria Jette, Prudence Johnson, Peter Ostroushko, Kevin Kling, Ann Reed, the Rose Ensemble and Philip Brunelle and Vocalessence. He’s appeared all across the upper Midwest and turned up often on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
As a writer and host he’s often asked to create special live programs for Minnesota Public Radio, the MN Historical Society, the Rose Ensemble and others. His show Civil War Homecoming played at the Fitzgerald Theater in April 2015, was broadcast statewide on MPR and continues to be shown on Twin Cities Public Television. His stage musical Steerage Song toured throughout Minnesota in 2013, a show co-authored with Peter Rothstein about the Ellis Island era of immigration to the US, as portrayed in folk songs, newspaper clippings and Tin Pan Alley tunes. In 2014 his show Cafe Europa, about bicycling with an accordion from Naples to Normandy in search of Minnesota WWII stories, was broadcast and televised statewide.
In 1994 he created an acclaimed radio series The Singer’s Voice, broadcast live Sunday nights from the Dakota Jazz Club, then in St. Paul, hosting song-spiked conversation from the piano with a different singer each week, over 200 in the six years of the show’s tenure.
His essays have been published in Minnesota Monthly, Saint John’s Magazine, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Showcase magazine and in the Minneapolis StarTribune.
He’s traveled extensively in France and Italy, with bicycle and without, and has presented French and Italian sing-alongs at the Alliance Française in Minneapolis. He spent the last months of summer 2015 working in Italy on an independent Hollywood film, Smitten!, to be released early next year.
He’s a musical consultant and concert organizer at the progressive St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community in South Minneapolis, and leads monthly community sing-alongs in downtown Minneapolis and St. Anthony Park.
He grew up in a big musical family near Lindstrom MN, attended St. John’s University in Collegeville MN and spent four years as a teacher of French and Italian as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.
Photo by Christopher Boudewyns
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