Arts and culture

A Fine Line is a novel featuring Sebastian Drake, a former reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

A Fine Line is also the name of Drake's novel, which features Jack Cannon, a cop struggling to keep his job with the Chicago Police Department.

We Shall Not Be Moved is a new opera that takes its name from both the old spiritual-turned-civil-rights anthem and the Philadelphia black liberation group, MOVE. That group might be best-remembered for a 1985 tragedy: A police helicopter bombed the MOVE house, and the resulting fire killed 11 people and destroyed 62 homes in the neighborhood.

The opera, presented by Opera Philadelphia with the Apollo Theater, had its world premiere Sept. 16. It revisits that house and its ghosts, while remaining centered on stories about young people in Philadelphia today.

Rain Art Returns

Sep 16, 2017

A popular art project is hitting the sidewalks of Rockford once again.  Rain Art uses environmentally-friendly paint that’s only visible when wet. The interactive public art installation is part of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau's Forest City Beautiful initiative.  Josh Albrecht is the Bureau’s Director of Marketing & Public Affairs. He said Rockford hosted a similar project last year downtown.

“And it was really well-received, he said.  "We had a great mix of people coming to the downtown core in Rockford looking for the art, trying to discover it.”

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Rockford poet Christine Swanberg has published her latest book. In a career that spans three decades, she’s written hundreds of poems that, in addition to her own collections, have appeared in a variety of periodicals and anthologies. During that time she mostly, though not always, wrote in free verse. But one of her first published poems was a sonnet, written while she was a young English teacher as a class assignment along with her students, and she returns to the sonnet in this collection.

Sessions from Studio A - Tundras

Sep 14, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Tundras performs "Beyond the Tombs pt. 2" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Tundras performs "Swirling in Obscurity" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Tundras at Bandcamp and Facebook.

One of the world's best-known opera stars, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, has announced that she will never sing in public again — bringing a long, storied career to a close.

Sessions from Studio A - Slatetrain

Sep 7, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Slatetrain performs "I Wanna See Love" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Slatetrain performs "Bob Newhart's Prescription" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Slatetrain on Bandcamp and Facebook.

The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.

Sessions from Studio A - Mana Kintorso

Aug 31, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Mana Kintorso performs "Bird on Fire" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Mana Kintorso performs "Abraham Lincoln" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Mana Kintorso online at ReverbNation/ManaKintorso or Facebook.

You never know just where Bill Murray might show up. From house parties to the White House, the actor and comedian has a penchant for crashing events and leaving everyone in his wake surprised.

The lobby of a Silicon Valley tech company is not where you would expect to hear a soprano belting out a Puccini aria, but that was exactly what happened at the first performance of Arias in the Office.

With "Ch'il Bel Sogno," soprano Katharine Gunnink kicked off the new pop-up series at Adobe's San Jose headquarters at the beginning of August. The initiative by Opera San José aims to introduce people to the very concept of opera as something that can be fun and enjoyable.

Sessions from Studio A - Poppy Mallows

Aug 24, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Poppy Mallows performs "Darling" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Poppy Mallows performs "I Was Watching Too" in WNIJ's Studio A.

You can find Poppy Mallows at Bandcamp and Facebook.

The Maud Powell Society

Peru, Illinois, celebrates one of its most famous natives by putting on the annual Maud Powell Arts Celebration. The pioneering violinist was born 150 years ago today.

Powell was revered as the best female violinist in the world during her lifetime and one of the first American violin masters.

“She stands as a model for women performers and composers,” said Brian Hart, a Northern Illinois University music history professor. “I know that Rachel Barton Pine, the Chicago violinist, has spoken of her as a very inspirational figure.”

The Venezuelan government has cancelled the upcoming U.S. tour by the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and its star conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who is also the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

El Nacional, a major Venezuelan paper, reported yesterday that the cancellation was ordered by the presidency.

On her "Medicare Birthday," author Marnie O. Mamminga celebrated by swimming to an island in Big Spider Lake near Hayward, Wis.

No easy feat for a 65-year-old.

The lake, where Mamminga spent nearly all of her birthdays, is home to Wake Robin, a cabin her grandfather built in 1929. The vacation home, made of tamarack logs, is the setting of Mamminga's first book Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of North Woods Resorts.

Sessions from Studio A - Helen Gillet

Aug 17, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Helen Gillet performs "Slow Drag Pavageau" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Helen Gillet performs "Kibi" in WNIJ's Studio A.
Find Helen Gillet at and Facebook.

Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tuesday morning, a new calendar featuring watercolors of Rockford locations was unveiled.  The artist traveled from her home in France to attend the event that began 815 Day in Rockford. 

A crowd gathered on the terrace at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau clapped, cheered and shot off confetti to mark the official release of the “Paint the Town” calendar.  

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will have a guest conductor this week: Dennis Prager. He'll conduct Haydn's Symphony No. 51 at an orchestra fundraiser.

Sessions from Studio A - Milked

Aug 10, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Milked performs "Oscillate" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Milked performs "Cruithne" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Sessions from Studio A - LASKA

Aug 3, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

LASKA performs "Creatures" in WNIJ's Studio A.

LASKA performs "The Experiment" in WNIJ's Studio A.

LASKA performs "I Am Not Afraid Of The Sunrise Anymore" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Don't bother trying to pigeonhole the music of Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist, who record under the name From the Mouth of the Sun. If their mission in this instrumental miniature is nothing more than beauty itself, they have succeeded on a disproportionate scale.

The music in "Light Blooms In Hollow Space" summons exactly what its title suggests. A simple, two-note piano figure ticks like a clock while wheezy organ chords slowly emerge and a sprinkle of ukuleles falls from above. The space may be hollow, but it's painted with impressionistic detail.

Mark Campbell is one of the most prolific and celebrated librettists in contemporary American opera. But, as he recently told an audience at the Guggenheim Museum, not everyone thought his latest project was a good idea.

So what do you do if you're a recently crowned head of state and you're already facing opposition — even from within your own family? One answer is optics. Make a big, public splash; throw a lavish party with A-list musical entertainment. That's just what happened in London — 300 years ago Monday.

Pick up The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of the Id, and you might guess it involves psychology with words like "paracosm" and "Id." But the phrase "Shapers of the Id" is a clue that we're about to enter the world of parapsychology -- specifically, shaping an Id with the aim of creating one's own paracosm.

Whistling in the Dark: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure

Jul 15, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ


Whistling in the Dark, a Sherlock Holmes adventure

by Margaret Raether adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Directed by Richard Raether


John Adam Keating as Sherlock Holmes

David A. Gingerich as Dr. John Watson

Janelle Good as Helen and Jenkins

Erin Philpott as Julia, Mrs. Farintosh, Wiggins, Magda and Mrs. Finch

Dan Klarer as Mrs. Hudson, Simon, Sir Grimesby Roylott, Clayton and Mrs. Finch

To the uninitiated, it's the French horn — though that's a bit of a misnomer. To its players and students, it's simply a horn, an instrument that has featured in orchestras for centuries.

The horn's sound is easily recognizable thanks to the prominent role it's played in some of the most epic classical songs and movie themes. But it's still an uncommon instrument, and not the easiest one to build community around. To that end, dozens of horn players head into the woods in the White Mountains every summer to celebrate and learn more about their instrument.


Rockford’s renowned boys choir Kantorei is opening its program to girls for the first time in its 53-year history. The choir announced Thursday that, starting this fall, it will convert its preparatory level group for beginners to a mixed choir of boys and girls.  Unchanged voices will also be mixed in the next-level Lyric choir. As their voices mature, singers would eventually advance to separate men’s and women’s performing choirs.