Arts

Arts and culture

In the mid-1970s, more than 40 years before he won the Pulitzer Prize for music, pianist and composer Anthony Davis was driving with his wife to Boston for a concert when a police officer pulled them over .

WNIU Encore Participation Signup

Nov 20, 2020

  Encore features performance and commentary from regional classical musicians.  Eric Hradecky  is your host for these premier broadcasts on WNIU.

We are proud to present an encore presentation of Encore - due to COVID this season we are sharing some of the great performances we have previously captured and shared. We also look forward to bringing you recordings of recent socially-distanced performances.

Sessions from Studio A - Cathy Grier

Nov 19, 2020

Blues artist Cathy Grier joins us on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. Grier's musical adventure has taken her many places, from sneaking backstage to meet John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt at age 17, to winning MTV's Basement Tapes competition, to co-writing a #1 dance hit in France. Thoughout her journey, Grier has never forgotten her blues and groove roots, and this year she makes a big statement with the new album "I'm All Burn".

Yvonne Boose

Some northern Illinois poets had to write outside the lines for a unique Woodstock art exhibition. 

“As It Happens” is an art show on display at Woodstock’s Old Courthouse Art Center. Various poets wrote pieces at different stages of visual artists’ works but the poems are much more than words on paper. 

Artist Carol Hamilton worked with the Woodstock poetry group Atrocious Poets to come up with the concept for the exhibit. She shared her observation.  

Yvonne Boose

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems from northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Bear Wolf. 

Wolf is a Shawnee Gypsy Jew social justice humanist who lost count of his tattoos somewhere around 20. This world makes no sense to him, so he makes music and poetry.

Here's his poem "Wake Up Call, (Blue Horizons Are Just the Beginning.)"

Blue may have won 

But America is still lost 

 

The cost of living 

Is making a killing 

Rampant racism 

Races through our veins 

The stains of red 

Sessions from Studio A - Glitter

Nov 12, 2020

Rockford duo Glitter makes a big statement with their debut album "The Men We Could Have Been". After years of playing in rock and punk bands, guitarist/vocalist Ben Johnson and drummer Jordan Acosta were sick of the over-the-top egos and macho attitudes, so they wanted to go in a completely different direction.

https://www.thewssr.org/

A Rockford poet is showing fellow writers how to bring their words to life in a new poetry workshop series.

Christopher D. Sims said he’s done spoken word poetry for over 20 years. He’s now partnering with Rockford performing arts venue The West Side Show Room in a workshop series called Graffiti Flow: Write and Perform Spoken Word Poetry. He mentioned that a friend introduced him to the venue's artistic director Mike Werckle.  

https://www.facebook.com/TheNextPictureShow

A northern Illinois arts center kept creativity flowing by challenging artists to ponder a basic technique  for a new art exhibition. 

Mike Glenn is the executive director of The Next Picture Show in Dixon. Glenn said he’s a writer so he likes to make the artists dig deeper when they create for exhibitions.  

Photo provided by Paige Monét Wright.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Paige Monét Wright, a member of FourPoets, OneMic. 

Wright was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Illinois at the age of 14. She and her older sister were raised mainly by their mother.

Wright is a sophomore at Northern Illinois University studying biological sciences. She said she wants to be a pediatrician so that she can help children stay healthy and safe. 

Sessions from Studio A - Anna May

Nov 5, 2020

Singer-songwriter Anna May was scheduled to stop by Studio A on her way through Illinois back in April. 2020 had different plans for us, but we liked her new album so much we knew we needed to get her on the show anyways, so she joins us on the phone from her hometown of Waterford, Connecticut. Listen to her new album, "I'm Still Thinking of You" and join us for a conversation with Anna May in this hour of Sessions from Studio A.

https://www.elginsymphony.org/concert/quartet-at-the-cafe/

Many musicians across the country are adapting to a new normal. A northern Illinois music ensemble is doing so by bringing other art forms into its repertoire.

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s “Quartet at the Café” combines spoken word poetry, visual art and classical music. 

Erik Malmquist is the executive director of the orchestra. He said the pandemic immobilized large mainstage programming.

Photo provided by Cheryl Sheinman.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Cheryl Sheinman. 

Sheinman is a teacher and dialogue facilitator. Being a graduate of Jungian and archetypal psychology, she writes about bringing consciousness to our social landscape via pieces on voice, justice, trauma, death and dying, gun violence and authentic dialogue. 

Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

It has been said that “Music can soothe the savage beast.” But sometimes music can be used to heighten the fright. A Chicago violinist is using her instrument to celebrate Halloween during the 18th episode of her free virtual weekly show.  

Rachel Barton Pine started doing "Family Fridays with RBP" when the pandemic hit. She said she thought it would be nice to do something for the entire family.  

Sessions from Studio A - The Flips

Oct 29, 2020
WNIJ

The Flips are a five-piece rock band from Chicago with a big, big sound. I asked them to describe their music and they answered with one word: "loud". Hear their live performance at WNIJ on this edition of Sessions from Studio A and join us for a conversation with the band about their backgrounds, life since COVID, and more. 

https://www.freeportartmuseum.com/arts-plaza

Outdoor art is blooming in a northern Illinois city. Two new permanent sculptures will be installed at Freeport’s Arts Plaza.

The civic art space is currently under construction. Jessica Modica, the arts plaza director for the Freeport Art Museum, said the city needed an updated outdoor art space. 

Even this spring, when New York City was at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S, the city's public parks never closed. Instead, they became a place where people went for a socially distanced refuge, often escaping into music with their headphones. Ellen Reid has taken that experience one step further: The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has written new music for a GPS-enabled app called Soundwalk, specifically designed to accompany walks around Central Park.

Provided by Quentin Johnson.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's poem is by Aurora Deputy Poet Laureate, Quentin Johnson. 

Johnson was born in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea to missionary parents. He grew up in the Midwest, living in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. He has lived most of his life in Illinois, having resided in Metropolis, Ashkum, Oak Park and Aurora.

Sessions from Studio A - Eric Peter Schwartz

Oct 15, 2020
WNIJ

Singer-songwriter Eric Peter Schwartz joined us in Studio A with his trusty road sidekick, Tourbot. Eric's music is incredibly dynamic, he plays everything from quirky songs about Dungeons & Dragons to deep ballads about a marriage ending. He even released two ambient albums this year, along with a triology of albums called "The Isolation Tapes". 

An acrylic artist debuted her work at Aurora’s October First Fridays -- something she never imagined would happen.

Cynthia Wood, executive director of Design 360 Network, said she had surgery over the summer and the time off inspired her to come up with a unique technique where she fuses acrylic paint designs between glass and a stretched canvas.  

In the orchestra world, conducting and music directing are still male-dominated fields. In the United States, less than 10% of orchestras are directed by women. In Europe, the figure for major orchestras is less than 6%.

https://medium.com/@whitec1914

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Charles White.

Estacious(Charles White) is a 23-year educator. He began writing over 25 years ago. His work experience encompasses managing schools and teaching a variety of subjects. His passions are poetry, short fiction, playwriting, and non-fiction. He won one of six prizes in the Rockford New Play Festival with West Side Show Room for his play “Incarcerated Christmas.” He is married with three children and a native of New Orleans.  

His poem "The African Dust Cloud" compares the cloud to the journey of African slaves.

Sessions from Studio A - Sweetie

Oct 1, 2020
WNIJ

Punk rock duo Sweetie joins us on Sessions from Studio A this week! We'll hear songs from their new album "Bad Thing Sweet Thing" which is out now on Bandcamp and all your usual streaming platforms. Also join us for a conversation with guitarist Alli Carroll and drummer Joe Pennington about their new album, social activism, the DeKalb music scene and more. 

A northern Illinois community came together this weekend to help paint a mural. That’s despite a dispute over the planning process.

Artist Joshua Schultz was tasked with creating the artwork. He said he had no doubts about people showing up to help. 

“I think that the thing about Aurora and downtown Aurora and the friends of Aurora,” he said, “is that everyone really just wants things to get better and be better and have a good time making them better.” 

Schultz shared that he has absolute faith in the Aurora community.  

Heroes never fade from memory. Last year, on Sept. 30, 2019, the great American soprano Jessye Norman died suddenly. She was just 74.

When young composers reboot old musical formulas, exciting things can happen. Sarah Kirkland Snider's arresting Mass for the Endangered — released Sept. 25 — is a 21st century twist on the Catholic mass, which has been sung in churches for more than 1300 years.

Sessions from Studio A - Sickhorse

Sep 24, 2020
Corporate Panda Records

Songwriting duo Derek Luttrell and Mossy Vaughn return to Sessions from Studio A this week with their new band and debut album, Sickhorse. They've graced our studio previously with the band Name the Moon - and what originally started as writing for Name the Moon turned into something else entirely as the songs took on a different character. We'll talk with songwriter and guitarist Mossy Vaughn on his front porch in Rockford, and also get on the phone with Zach Staas, head of Corporate Panda Records in Nashville.

Yvonne Boose

A Rockford youth summer apprenticeship program has ended and the fruits of the participants’ labor are ready to be revealed.   

SPARK! -- or -- Significant Public Art Apprenticeships in Rockford began back in July. One of the projects includes works that were done at the Nicholas Conservatory.   

Among the themes are social justice artwork and digital journalism skill-building.  An animation video that highlights youth interviews of community participants sharing what Black Lives Matter means to them will be on display.

Sessions from Studio A - Bottom Bracket

Sep 10, 2020
WNIJ

Bottom Bracket is a emo rock trio from Springfield, IL who just recently released a new album titled "I Don't Care Enough to Stay". Emo rock is a style that grew from the punk and post-punk scenes of the late 80's and early 90's, but features more complex melodies, experimental song structure, and an emphasis on emotional vocals. Bottom Bracket brings their own unique sound to the genre, with influences from math rock that is evident in guitarist Mario Cannamela's intricate playing and tapping. Listen to Bottom Bracket's live performance in Studio A right here!

Yvonne Boose

A northern Illinois arts organization is now better equipped to help other art institutions.  

The Rockford Area Arts Council has received two COVID relief grants. One was an 81Thrive Award from the community impact team, which includes the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, the Kjellstrom Family Foundation, the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE), Transform Rockford, United Way of Rock River Valley, and the Workforce Connection. The RAAC also received a grant from the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund.

Mary McNamara Bernsten is the executive director of the Arts Council. She said these grants are vital for the health of the organization. 

“It's imperative that we got that because it will not only allow us to then survive in 2021,” she explained, “but we may be able to thrive and be a true resource for the artists’ community.” 

https://mchenrycountyhistory.org/adopt-an-artwork

When you think of adoption, you may think of something that you keep with you. But this isn’t always the case. A northern Illinois historical society is allowing people to adopt artwork that will stay at the society's museum.

“Adopt an Artwork” is a project by the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum. It’s doing this program in preparation for an art show that takes place in May of next year. The show is called “Art of the Past: Discovering History through McHenry County Artists.” 

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