Arts and culture

The Polish-born conductor and composer Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who led the Minnesota Orchestra for nearly two decades and worked with that symphony for well over 50 years in total, died Tuesday at age 93.

"You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl."

We've all heard this, which is why it's refreshing to find a story that shows the opposite.

Rachel Raines is the protagonist of Small Town Roads by L.B. Johnson, one of our Read With Me selections for this month.

In a story about an alcoholic teen and the twin brother who covers for her, who's the protagonist?

"I have people come up to me and, in some cases, they say alcohol is the protagonist," author Kathleen Tresemer says. But, in an interview with WNIJ, she hints that the twins' co-dependent relationship may be the real main character of her novel, Time in a Bottle.

The book is one of four Read With Me selections for February.


Several choirs from the DeKalb community and Northern Illinois University will raise their voices to raise money for the nonprofit DeKalb County Community Gardens in the third annual "Make Our Garden Grow" concert Sunday in NIU’s Boutell Concert Hall.

Eric Johnson, director of Choral Activities at NIU, says he started the concerts with two visions in mind.

It was The Magnificent Seven that inspired Ramin Djawadi, the musician behind Game Of Thrones' iconic soundtrack, to become a film composer.

"The greatest stories ask the biggest questions," budding animation artist Alex Sopp replied when I asked about the video she's created for "Sunset Boulevard," a song from First, the upcoming album by the new music sextet yMusic.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Most musical ensembles of great renown have some large institution behind them. Not so with the St. Olaf Choir. Its home is a tiny college, but its stage is the world. 

St. Olaf Choir director Anton Armstrong says the choir’s success also is built on a foundation of support that goes back to the very beginnings of the college.

Music has been essential in the curriculum since its inception. There was a hymnal that was one of the required textbooks back in 1874,” he says.

A graphic novel featuring U.S. Rep. John Lewis became the first non-fiction work to receive The Michael L. Printz award.

The award recognizes the best young adult book of the year, plus up to four "Honor Books" or honorable mentions.

March: Book Three is the final piece of a trilogy that tells the history of the civil rights movement as experienced by Rep. Lewis. It was co-written with Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell.

Pick up WNIJ's book bag and turn it over. What falls out?

Two novels, one book of poems, and a story collection -- all by northern Illinois writers.

Each will share her insights into the craft of storytelling during interviews that air during Morning Edition on 89.5 FM and

WNIJ invites you to read the following selections before the series airs Feb. 20 - 23.

American composer Philip Glass turns 80 years old on January 31. To mark the occasion, we asked several of Glass' colleagues and collaborators to pick a piece of his music and write about it.

Sessions from Studio A - Grandkids

Jan 26, 2017
Carl Nelson

Grandkids performs "Agur" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Grandkids on the web at

Sessions from Studio A - Seasaw

Jan 19, 2017
Carl Nelson

Seasaw performs "Folklore" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Seasaw performs "Ex-Girlfriend" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Seasaw on the web at

For nearly five decades, Daniel Barenboim has been making a case for the symphonies of Anton Bruckner. Tonight at Carnegie Hall, the conductor begins a complete cycle of Bruckner's nine numbered symphonies, leading the storied Staatskapelle Berlin.

Sessions from Studio A: Oshwa

Jan 12, 2017
Carl Nelson

Oshwa performs "Haze" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Oshwa performs "Get Along" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Follow Oshwa online at and listen at

A Fresh Start For The House Cafe

Jan 11, 2017
Carl Nelson/WNIJ News

DeKalb’s live music scene has struggled in recent years. Popular venues have been boarded up or changed hands. The House Cafe is moving forward with plans to fill a void for music fans. WNIJ's Carl Nelson interviewed the Cafe's newest owner.  

Sessions from Studio A - La Historia

Jan 7, 2017
Carl Nelson

La Historia performs "Fall Right Through" in WNIJ's Studio A.

La Historia performs "Hope to Know" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find La Historia online at their website,, and Bandcamp.

Classical composers have long had their patrons: Beethoven had Archduke Rudolph, John Cage had Betty Freeman. For contemporary opera composers, there's Beth Morrison. She and her production company have commissioned new works from some of the most innovative emerging composers today.

Georges Prêtre, the French conductor with a seven-decade career that included close associations with Maria Callas and many of the world's top orchestras, died Wednesday in France at age 92.

Ben Johnston doesn't follow the rules of music. Sure, he's got degrees from two colleges and a conservatory. But from an early age, Johnston heard music differently. When he was growing up in Georgia, he questioned the standard scales he was taught in school. "I played by ear and I invented my own chords," he says.

Sessions from Studio A - The Lone Canary

Dec 29, 2016
Carl Nelson

The Lone Canary performs "Water in My Lungs" in WNIJ's Studio A.

The Lone Canary performs "Come Home" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find The Lone Canary online at

In the last week of 2016, Songs We Love is featuring just a few of the songs that, for whatever reason, never got their due this year.

The clarinet and guitar are common enough instruments, but you've probably never heard them sound quite like this. In the hands of guitarist Golfam Khayam and clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi, the instruments breathe together in music that borrows melody and improvisation from their Iranian homeland and classical structures from the West.

Sessions from Studio A - Dylan Lloyd

Dec 22, 2016
Carl Nelson

Dylan Lloyd performs "Aria" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Dylan Lloyd performs "Let Go" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Dylan Lloyd online at Facebook and ReverbNation.