Arts

Arts and culture

Rockford is getting not just one, but two poets laureate -- an adult and a youth.

The adult poet laureate position will be a two-year position, and probably one year long for the youth. Rockford Area Arts Council (RAAC) Executive Director Mary McNamara Bernsten said the committee is still working that out. But, she said, people may start nominating poets next week.

Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the world's leading composers, died Sunday at the age of 86. The Polish Ministry of Affairs announced his passing in a tweet. No cause of death was given.

The Polish-born composer established himself while still in his 20s with jarring atonal works such as Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, and came to be widely admired by music fans and musicians far outside traditional classical music circles.

Bob Myers

Someday, the COVID-19 pandemic will be history. And that’s why one DeKalb County photographer is urging people to document it now.

Bob Myers took his wife’s advice. She’s DeKalb County historian Sue Breese, and she encouraged him to photograph the empty store shelves, the empty parking lots, and the altered daily interactions that are now part of life under the State’s “stay-at-home” order. In turn, Myers turned to social media to ask other DeKalb County residents to join the effort. For him, it’s important to keep the project local because it “makes it hit home more.”

When Víkingur Ólafsson was about 5 years old, he already knew what he wanted to be. "It sounds crazy, but I always saw myself as a concert pianist," he says. "Even if I wasn't a good pianist."

Sessions from Studio A - Crystal Gravy

Mar 26, 2020
WNIJ

Join us for the music of Crystal Gravy, of DeKalb, IL. They are a love-struck duo who even spent their first date writing their first song. We'll hear their performance in Studio A and talk with Crystal Gravy about their writing process, their relationship, and much more. We will even learn what "Hotel Stew" is.

Keep up with Crystal Gravy by following their Facebook page. Find more of their music streaming on Spotify and available for download on Bandcamp!

Slam Poetry -- "The Points Are Not The Point"

Mar 26, 2020
Yvonne Boose

National Poetry Month is coming up in April and earlier this month Kishwaukee College held an interactive poetry workshop called, “So You Wanna Be a Slam Poet.” 

Some people may be familiar with spoken word poetry or may have attended a poetry reading. Bear Wolf is the adjunct professor of English at Kishwaukee College. He said there is a slight difference between spoken word and slam poetry. 

Kartemquin Films

An important figure in the world of documentary film has been hospitalized in Chicago with COVID-19. Kartemquin Films co-founder Gordon Quinn was admitted to Northwestern Hospital Wednesday night after having difficulty breathing.

Connie Kuntz

Alfred Stark is a woodblock printmaker from DeKalb. He also makes and flies his own kites. I followed him for a day to a couple places that are meaningful to him.

We started at Gordon's Hardware Store, where he has worked for nearly 20 years. "I fix screens and windows and help people," he explained. He said he enjoys helping customers with things they "definitely need" plus he likes his coworkers.

"It's nice working with a small group of people," he said. "We all know each other pretty well." 

Join us for the music of Fuzzlove on this week's Sessions from Studio A! This genre-blending band from DeKalb has a huge range of influences from jazz, to funk, to hard rock. They stopped by Studio A and played some new, unreleased songs that the band has planned for their upcoming sophomore album.

Keep up with Fuzzlove by following them on their Facebook page.

Morning Edition's series One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers are defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalogs have much more to offer.

In this edition, NPR's classical producer Tom Huizenga makes the case for the charming, danceable St. Paul's Suite by Gustav Holst, who's best known for his symphonic juggernaut called The Planets.

Connie Kuntz

Rockford Area Arts Council (RAAC) held an open house at the Shumway Market on Thursday. They celebrated their new executive director, the newly retired Sharon Nesbit-Davis, and their home's renovations. 

Some of the renovations of their home at the Shumway Market include new furniture and a fresh display of art on loan from Rockford Art Museum. The art was created by local artists. 

Plácido Domingo, who began singing at London's Royal Opera House in 1971, will not be performing with the company in scheduled performances this summer, according to a statement provided to NPR Friday morning.

"The Royal Opera House and Maestro ‪Plácido Domingo have mutually decided that he will withdraw from the Royal Opera House's upcoming performances of Don Carlo in July 2020," it reads in part.

Sometimes old recipes, newly tweaked, can yield astonishing results. Consider the concerto: It might be a 400-year-old formula, calling for a soloist to perform with — and often battle against — an orchestra. But occasionally, a brand new concerto arrives that offers old-fashioned thrills.

WNIJ

The Oxleys are a folk/americana duo from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hear them perform songs from their self-titled debut album, as well as some new unreleased tunes. The duo has been touring the midwest full time ever since releasing that album. You can find their tour dates and more music from the band at their Facebook page and website: theoxleysband.com.  

Beloit International Film Festival

The 15th annual Beloit International Film Festival opens Friday.

Greg Gerard has been with the Beloit International Film Festival, or BIFF, since it was founded by Rod Beaudoin fifteen years ago. Gerard, a singer/songwriter who started with no formal film background, said he’s done just about every job needed to help make it run. That includes the last couple of years serving as executive director. 

“It’s been a really interesting journey," he said. "And I’ve learned a lot. I’ve definitely increased my skill set.”

Connie Kuntz

The first time I met Nate Woogen, I didn't actually meet the man, I met the man's writing, specifically a scene from his screenplay, "Physical Therapy Massacre." I saw actors performing it at a cold reading presented by Naked Angels. 

Nate's screenplay is about a violent physical therapist who is cruel to vulnerable people. The crimes take place inside a dirty gym that was converted into a clinic for people with disabilities. The setting was inspired by an experience Nate had at an unsafe clinic he visited many years ago for his ataxic cerebral palsy.

This August will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate, the New York Philharmonic has commissioned compositions by 19 women for an initiative it calls Project 19, which had its first concert earlier this month.

Sessions from Studio A - Anthony Padilla

Feb 14, 2020
WNIJ

Anthony Padilla stopped by Studio A to play songs from his debut solo album, There Is No Such Thing As Spare Time. Hear songs from that album and the stories behind in this week's episode. 

You can find the album online for purchase with physical copies selling at Green Tangerine Records in DeKalb and Kiss the Sky in Batavia. Find more music from Anthony Padilla by following his Facebook page.

Connie Kuntz

"Carmina Burana" is a popular choral work about the power of fate. It starts with a poem, in Latin. In English, it translates to:

Fortune

like the moon

you are changeable

ever waxing

ever waning

Jesse and Libby Parker are a popular Rockford couple whose marriage of 49 years is uniquely connected to the cantata. Ten years ago, they moved from the Seattle-area to Rockford.

Jesse shared the story of how "Carmina Burana" influenced their decision to move to the Midwest.

Carey Cavanaugh

Trolls have lived in Morton Arboretum since the summer of 2018, but the gentle giants are moving out later this year.  

Guy Stephens

Aurora’s downtown is transforming into what some are calling an “arts district.” 

Melissa Mercado is the executive director of the Fox Valley Music Foundation. It runs The Venue, a performance space located in the heart of downtown Aurora.

The Venue opened in 2019.  Mercado said the atmosphere of the 200-seat listening room is casual. Most sit around tables, and food and drink are available, and the offerings are intentionally eclectic.

Peter Serkin, a pianist who navigated a distinctive course through classical music with thoughtful interpretations of both standard repertoire and bracing new compositions, died Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y. at age 72.

The cause of death, announced by his family, was pancreatic cancer.

Serkin came from a prestigious family of musicians. His father, the celebrated pianist Rudolf Serkin, and his maternal grandfather, the violinist and conductor Adolf Busch, embodied old-world traditions — to reverential acclaim.

Sessions from Studio A - The Weekend Run Club

Jan 30, 2020
WNIJ

The Weekend Run Club joined us in Studio A to perform tracks from their new, debut album "Zoo". You can find that album streaming online and available for purchase here.

We've been starting this new year off with genres of music you might not listen to, or that you say you're not a fan of — so far, we've covered jazz, country and deep house.

Victor Yehling / WNIJ

The 34th Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition is underway in Rockford.

The event is hosted by the Rockford Park District and allows high school students and adults to compete through an unusual artistic medium -- snow.

John Beck is an alderman and works for the Park District. He said the event is a big attraction for the community.

Sessions from Studio A - The Lone Canary

Jan 16, 2020
WNIJ

Join us for the music of The Lone Canary this week. This Rockford duo plays their own unique brand of folk/americana music, and we were lucky to catch them live at Prairie Street Brewing Co. this past summer. We also had them revisit Studio A, where they played a few songs from their upcoming album, Leave the Gray, which is out now.

State Of The Artist: What's In A Name?

Jan 15, 2020
Connie Kuntz

State of the Artist continues with a Rockford woman who makes decoupage. Decoupage involves gluing and arranging paper cutouts on a variety of surfaces. It's a form of expression that has special meaning for artist Valerie Gibbons. 

I met Valerie Gibbons at the Rockford White House that sits high on the hill at Spring Creek and Alpine in Rockford. It used to be someone's home, but now it's a professional office space, and it's where Valerie founded the nonprofit FootsieStools Ltd.

Guy Stephens

The Boone County Historical Society received the largest donation in its history -- an iconic Belvidere mansion and $1 million to help maintain it.  So what is the society’s vision for its new acquisition?

Jingle All the Way

Dec 24, 2019

American composer James Pierpont published "One Horse Open Sleigh" more than 160 years ago. Today, the song is known by most everyone as "Jingle Bells."

Every Christmas Eve at exactly 3 p.m., the Chapel of King's College in Cambridge, England plays A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The tradition began in 1918, and for decades it's been broadcast on the BBC and around the world. A commemorative recording of last year's Centenary Service has just been released; it was the last one conducted by Sir Stephen Cleobury, the choir's music director for 37 years, who died just last month on Nov. 22.

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