Arts

Arts and culture

Guy Stephens

An exhibition in Rockford closes this Saturday with a live musical performance by the artist. She'll interpret animated images she created.  It’s part of an effort by a new gallery space to promote art that goes beyond the paintbrush.

New Genres Art Space co-founders Jason Judd and Iga Duchalska usher their visitor into a large, high-ceiling room on an upper floor of the Rockford Public Library’s Nordlof Center in downtown Rockford. It’s one result of a partnership between the institutions.

Caroline Shaw sings her own song, "And So," with the Attacca Quartet.

Ann Marsden / libbylarsen.com

A piece by acclaimed American composer Libby Larsen will be given its world premiere this weekend at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. The work is inspired by the true stories of migrants.

Sessions from Studio A - Remembering Carl Nelson

Oct 24, 2019

Join us for a very special Sessions from Studio A as we remember the life of Carl Nelson, host and creator of Sessions. Carl worked tirelessly to bring music into everyone's lives. He converted Studio A from an empty concrete room into a beautiful space worthy of bands and artists. He loved every genre from country to jazz, prog to pop, and always featured a wide range of artists on the show. Many have had their first radio airplay because of Carl.

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director says next season will be his last at the helm of the organization.

In an announcement Wednesday, Steven Larsen said he plans to retire after the 2020-2021 season. It will mark his 30th with the orchestra.

Orchestra Marketing Director Michelle McAffee says he’s provided the next level of growth the RSO board was hoping for when they hired him in 1991.

“He went from five concerts a year to -- now we’re over twelve," she said. "He’s built an orchestra of exceptional professionals.”

Sessions from Studio A - Brother Ryan

Sep 26, 2019
WNIJ

This week on Sessions from Studio A, we feature the music of Brother Ryan. Starting as a solo project for singer-songwriter Robby Ciganek, the band now includes a rotating lineup of musicians that join Robby live. Check out their performance in Studio A as well as an interview with host Carl Nelson, where they discuss the bands roots and the meaning behind their new album, Forest

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is back. Orchestra officials and musicians held a joint news conference Monday, on stage at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, to announce the ratification of a one-year contract that effectively ends a 16-week showdown between the two groups.

"I'm thrilled that an agreement has been reached," BSO music director Marin Alsop said in a statement announcing the new contract, "and that we will have our musicians back on stage to open our 104th season beginning on Friday night."

Composer Christopher Rouse, who once called himself a writer of "fast and furious" music and who taught courses in the history of rock, died Saturday of complications of renal cancer at age 70.

When the first enslaved Africans landed on American shores in 1619, their musical traditions landed with them. Four centuries later, the primacy of African American music is indisputable, not only in this country but in much of the world. How that music has evolved, blending with or giving rise to other traditions — from African songs and dances to field hollers and spirituals, from ragtime and blues to jazz, R&B and hip-hop — is a topic of endless discussion.

Guy Stephens

The fifth annual Rockford New Play Festival takes place Friday and Saturday at The West Side Show Room. This year’s edition features short works by established and aspiring playwrights on the theme “Over…The Edge.” 

Sessions from Studio A - Aaron Kamm & the One Drops

Sep 12, 2019
WNIJ

In this edition of Sessions from Studio A we feature Aaron Kamm & the One Drops performing live at The House Cafe in DeKalb. The band mixes many genres including reggae, dub, blues, and rock to create a unique sound.

Aaron Kamm & the One Drops performing "Don't Stay" live at The House Cafe.

Guy Stephens

The NIU Art Museum’s current exhibition explores aspects of war -- before, during and after. The subject is personal for some of the artists. 

Peter Olson, assistant director of the NIU Art Museum, showed me a room filled with photographs.  Arranged in groups of three, the larger-than-life closeups of young men -- British soldiers who had been deployed to Afghanistan -- stare straight out at you.  

With a season-opening concert slated for Saturday, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians and its management are still locking horns over details of a new contract agreement. A bargaining session ended Monday night with no resolution, only a set of last minute proposals from management which players will vote on Tuesday night.

State Of The Artist: A Generous Heart And All That

Sep 6, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Kim Schultz is an actor, writer, storyteller, and refugee advocate. She has lived in Chicago for six years.  I followed her to the places that are meaningful to her in and around Chicago. 

Sessions from Studio A - Taylor Rogers

Aug 29, 2019
WNIJ

Hear the music of Taylor Rogers on this week's Sessions from Studio A. Taylor Rogers is a singer/songwriter from Chicago who blew us away with her live looping of guitar and vocals to create rich and textured soundscapes. 

Taylor Rogers performing "8900" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Julia Wolfe might be called America's "labor documentarian," but she's not making movies. She's composing music.

Controversy has seemed to follow pianist Ivo Pogorelich at every move, even from the beginning. In 1980, when the 22-year-old whiz kid from Yugoslavia failed to reach the final round of the International Chopin Competition, the revered pianist Martha Argerich, who declared him a "genius," stormed off the jury in protest. Naturally, the dustup helped launch his career. With a brooding pout, movie star looks and a high-powered record deal, Pogorelich was an instant celebrity.

Sessions from Studio A - Public Disco Porch

Aug 9, 2019
WNIJ

Join us for the music of Public Disco Porch on this week's Sessions from Studio A.

Public Disco Porch peforming "777" in WNIJ's Studio A.

State Of The Artist: Here, Go Make Some Stuff

Aug 9, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Every morning at Art Camp, the bell rings at 10:30 and nearly 30 kids from Rockford and Peoria gather in a circle and "sing hello." That means every child is musically greeted by their name so they know they are welcomed, recognized, and loved. After the song, the campers break off into groups organized by age. They learn different disciplines of art including dance, drama, visual arts, gardening and cooking.  This is Ann Rundall's Art Camp. 

From the Tudors to the Windsors, Britain boasts a lot of dynasties. But there's another British household that's becoming something of a musical royal family. The Kanneh-Mason family, with seven sibling musicians aged preteen to early 20s, is a classical clan filled with promising careers.

Sessions from Studio A - Miles Nielsen

Aug 1, 2019
WNIJ

We are bringing you two sets of music from Miles Nielsen on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. Check out his set at Rockford's Prairie Street Brewing Co. with his band, The Rusted Hearts, and then a stripped-down acoustic set recorded right here in WNIJ's Studio A. 

Miles Nielsen & Kelly Steward performing "Over the Moon" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Connie Kuntz

Rockford drummer and dancer Blazey Dickenso is 23 years old. He is originally from Kenya, Africa and has lived in Illinois for three months. Though new to the state, the young man is lovingly connected to the land, the water, and his spiritual community. 

I followed Blazey to three locations that inspire him as an artist. We first met at Rockford Baha'i Center. It is a spiritual gathering place for the Baha'i community and it is tucked inside the Highcrest Shopping Centre. 

Sessions from Studio A - Funktional Family

Jul 11, 2019
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

WNIJ's Sessions from Studio A has a growing reputation as a showcase for energetic performances, and Funktional Family brought their A game. This band features members of Backwoods Bunny Fight, another band we featured.

Sessions from Studio A - The bellow + the whale

Jul 4, 2019

Chicago folk duo The bellow + the whale joined us in Studio A and performed some of their new original songs. 

Check out more from The bellow + the whale at their website and Facebook page.

Sarah Jesmer

Protestors recently gathered at Rockford Public Library's East Branch to demonstrate at Drag Queen Story Hour. The reading was part of the city's observance of Pride Month.

Such events spark controversy nationwide. But drag performers in northern Illinois say their work goes beyond the headlines.

Connie Kuntz

Mixed Media Artist Norm Knott lives with his partner Steve Beard in Rockford. On a grey day in May, I drove to their neighborhood in northwest Rockford, parked my car, and walked up to their house. From the street, the rambler seemed ordinary, but the closer I got to the front door, things changed.

Delightful statues and artifacts frame the path. With each step, I could feel myself relax. As nice as that was, it was nothing like the moment of stepping into their home. I felt like Dorothy stepping into the magical land of Oz, except Norm and Steve’s house is more vibrant.

Twenty candidates have made it to the first round of Democratic primary debates. Ten take the stage Wednesday night, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the center. Night 2, on Thursday, will include former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The two-hour debate, hosted by NBC News/MSNBC/Telemundo, starts at 9 p.m. ET both nights.

As you watch, follow NPR's live blog for analysis and fact checks of the candidates' statements.

State Of The Artist: A River Runs Through Her

Jun 26, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Caitlyn Baylor is the newest executive director for Rockford Area Arts Council. She is also a dancer who specializes in site specific choreography with her identical twin sister, Meghan Baylor. Most hours of the week, the dancer is serving RAAC's mission which is, "Support, promote, and develop the arts for everyone in Winnebago, DeKalb, Boone, and Ogle counties." On a misty day in April, she took me to the places that inspired her creativity early on -- schools.

State Of The Artist: Dance To The Beep

Jun 25, 2019
Connie Kuntz

State Of The Artist features artists in the places that inspire them; the places that put them in a creative state of mind. For Jessica Miller Tomlinson, those places are actions. She preferred to interview when she was in transit because motion is the "place" that inspires her. So Jessica's interview is a reflection of her passion for working or getting to work, or finding ways to improve her work.  

Augustin Hadelich's latest album of violin concertos offers two unlikely bedfellows. The tuneful, romantic classic by Johannes Brahms bumps up against the modernist mayhem of György Ligeti. The album, titled simply Brahms, Ligeti: Violin Concertos, also proves to be a compelling introduction to one of today's best, but still undervalued, violinists.

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