Arts

Arts and culture

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.

Sarah Jesmer

 

 

Rockford is celebrating June as Pride Month for the first time ever this year. The city has held events all month like parties and art exhibitions, and more recently, a 'Drag Queen Story Hour' at the East Branch of the Rockford Public Library.

 

Saturday's event was attended by families and young kids while a crowd of protestors, supporters, and law enforcement gathered outside.

 

June 28 marks the 50th anniversary of an event that proved to be a catalyst for a simmering gay-rights movement. On that day in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Now a new opera, Stonewall, at the New York City Opera, dramatizes that historic moment.

NPR Classical

Jun 20, 2019

Need a deep discovery experience? Try 1000 years of music in this playlist from NPR Classical's Tom Huizenga, which explores everything from new releases to old favorites, and classics from the dawn of the recording era. Our mantra: Bach, Beethoven, before and beyond.

ArtGarfunkel.com

Art Garfunkel comes to Rockford's Coronado Performing Arts Center Thursday night. 

Art Garfunkel is perhaps best known as one half of Simon and Garfunkel. He says his on-again, off-again association with Paul Simon actually started when they were kids.

He says he taught Simon how to sing, and sing harmoniously, at age 11. But this middle child of three boys in a middle-class Jewish family in Queens said he started much earlier than that, in the 1st grade.

Updated on Jun. 17 at 11:41 a.m.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) musicians, carrying signs reading "Fair Play for World Class Musicians," have begun picketing in front of their artistic home, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, as the orchestra's management has locked out its players.

Sessions from Studio A - Invisible Cartoons

Jun 13, 2019
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Invisible Cartoons performs "A Catastrophic Atmosphere" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Invisible Cartoons performs "Jackson Pollock" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Guy Stephens

Two arts organizations are using state grants to help extend their seasons – in different directions.

On a visit in early June, Timber Lake Playhouse Executive Director Dan Danielowski points to work being done on the lobby – really an open walkway outside its theater – by a team of electricians. The schedule is tight. But so far, so good.

In the opening scene of Pavarotti, the new documentary by director Ron Howard, the popular tenor travels deep into the Amazon jungle in search of an old opera house where the great Enrico Caruso may have once sung.

The building is shuttered, but because he's Luciano Pavarotti the door is unlocked for him to belt out a few honeyed notes from the stage. His fabulous voice soars into the vast emptiness of the auditorium.

Pages