Cityscape

Airs Fridays noon-1 p.m. and 10-11 p.m. (repeat)

Join Steve Potter every Friday for a discussion of local arts and cultural events.

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Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer. The show is sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

Ken Howard

Although Tobias Picker’s “Emmeline” received great accolades for its Santa Fe Opera premiere in 1996 and again in 1998 when that production was staged at the New York City Opera, it hasn’t been mounted since. But that will change on June 13 when Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its production of the American saga.

Used with permission

On June 16, Cortango Orquesta, will host an album release concert for the release of their first album, Tandas. Founded by Cally Banham, the six-member band Cortango describes itself as a “dance band performing tango music with a symphonic twist.”

“I started the group with the intent of creating an ideal experience for social dancing,” Banham said. “We started by playing more traditional, steady tangos. [Now], we like to present some pieces that are concert-like in nature and also play for dancers.”

St. Lou Fringe Festival Left, Em Piro; Middle, Alicen Moser; Right, Joe Hanrahan
Alex Heuer

Four years ago, St. Lou Fringe set out on a “passion project” to create an event that provided a networking platform for emerging artists to gain exposure. The project became known as the “St. Lou Fringe Festival,” which includes 10 days of performances from a diverse variety of art forms, including slam poetry, magic, fashion design and street performance. The overall goal of the organization is to promote St. Louis as a “hotspot for cultural and economic vitality” through arts culture.

In the mid-1970s a new theater group put on its first show in the then empty Union Station and changed the theater scene in St. Louis forever. The group was Theatre Project Company and its co-founder was Fontaine Syer.

Syer died of cancer on May 29 in Bloomington, Ind. where she had made her home since joining the faculty of Indiana University in 2005. Although she had been gone from St. Louis for many years, a host of actors, directors and theater managers credit her with inspiring the wide variety of small professional theater companies in St. Louis today.

(From L to R) Roy Kasten, Lynn Cook and Adam Reichmann
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Twangfest celebrates American roots, rock 'n' roll and country with its 19th annual festival featuring four nights of performances at Off Broadway.

Beginning June 10, each night of the festival will include performances by 3 bands from a variety of musical genres. Cracker, a band that combines rock, psychedelia, country, blues and folk, is scheduled to headline on opening night, followed by Philadelphia-based band Marah and local folk-rock band Grace Basement.

Vice-president Roy Kasten, who calls the organization a group of “hardcore music fans,” founded Twangfest in 1997.

STAGES St. Louis opens its 29th season with its 100th production, the musical revue “Smokey Joe’s Café.” The show features songs from the legendary rock and roll songwriting team, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stroller.

“Smokey Joe’s Café” debuted in November 1994 at the Doolittle Theatre in Los Angeles and quickly became a Broadway staple in 1995 after opening at the Virginia Theatre. The production ran on Broadway for 2,036 performances. It has been nominated for seven Tony Awards and in 1996, the original cast won a Grammy for the “Best Musical Show Album.”

via Flickr\Orbspiders

What is art?

That is the question Alton, Ill. residents and council members debated after the owner of a tattoo parlor, Grand Piasa Body Art, proposed relocating his business to East Broadway Street, in the city’s historic downtown district.

Courtesy Circus Flora

On May 29, Circus Flora returns to “The Big Top” in Grand Center to open its 29th season with “One Summer on Second Street.” This season features new talent, including an act performed by domestic house cats, as well as familiar acts such as the Flying Wallendas and the St. Louis Arches from Circus Harmony.

Far Lft, Brian Owens; Middle Lft, Sara Michaelis; Middle Rt, Stanley Johnson; Far Rt, Sonya Murray
Alex Heuer

The St. Louis Symphony and Maryville University collaborated to create an 8-week music therapy program called “Life Compositions” to help students at Confluence Academy Old North deal with the challenges and trauma of growing up in urban neighborhoods. Graduate students in Maryville’s music therapy program worked with the youth to write and record songs, which they will highlight in a concert titled “Courage Counts” on June 4.

Alex Heuer

Independent filmmaker Bill Streeter joined “Cityscape” guest host Don Marsh to discuss “Lo-Fi Cherokee,” an outgrowth of his award winning music and culture web video series, “Lo-Fi Saint Louis.”

“Lo-Fi Cherokee” is a yearly celebration of the St. Louis music scene featuring 18 live performance videos all produced in a single day in 18 different locations on Cherokee Street. The bands range from veteran national acts to up-and-coming local musical groups.

Alex Heuer

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis returns to Forest Park with the rarely performed “Antony and Cleopatra. Members of the company joined “Cityscape” guest host Don Marsh to discuss the production.

“Antony and Cleopatra” chronicles the love life of Mark Antony, one of three rulers of the Roman Empire, and Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, following the assassination of Julius Caesar.

Shirine Babb, an actor who plays the role of Cleopatra, said that in order to prepare for the role, she watched documentaries and read books about Cleopatra.

he Chinese Lantern Festival opens at the Missouri Botanical Garden on May 23.
Stephanie Lecci / St. Louis Public Radio

A popular attraction that debuted in St. Louis a few years ago has returned. 

 

On Saturday night, the Missouri Botanical Garden will present the grand opening of Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined, a display of 22 sets of Chinese lanterns constructed out of steel and silk and illuminated from the inside. 

 

 

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its 40th anniversary season on May 23 with a production of Rossini’s comic opera “The Barber of Seville.” Conducted by St. Louis native Ryan McAdams, the production features the Opera Theatre debut of mezzo-soprano Emily Fons in the role of Rosina.

The season continues with Puccini’s romantic opera “La Rondine” opening on May 30. Former Gerdine Young Artist, soprano Sydney Mancasola sings the role of Lisette.

Jessica Hentoff

Circus Harmony, St. Louis’ only social circus and circus school, created Peace Through Pyramids, a performance arts initiative teaching youth of all races that cooperation, communication and standing on the shoulders of each other are keys to the path of peace.

Alex Heuer

In what is often a competitive playing field, some local restaurateurs are teaming up to make sure local food stays local and businesses prosper.

Ligaya Figueras, executive editor of Sauce Magazine, said that in the St. Louis area, food and drink restaurant collaborations began around 2010 between local craft breweries such as Schlafly Bottleworks and 4 Hands Brewing Co. Now, the newest collaborating restaurants, Kitchen Kulture and Sump Coffee, hope to keep the trend going.

Rhonda Ely

Soprano Sylvia McNair has sung in concert halls and opera houses all over the world. But she has a soft spot for St. Louis, where she got her start in opera with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 1983.

“Certainly in the 1980s, [Opera Theatre] was and still is a premier training ground for young American singers where you learn your craft from great directors and conductors,” she told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter. “I feel like Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is where I figured out how to walk in the opera business.”

Katy Peace, right in striped top, at an earlier pickup event
Provided by Community Supported Art

Katy Peace, founder and lead organizer of Community Supported Art - Saint Louis, joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter along with artists Ruth Reese and Brandon Daniels to discuss the organization’s second season.

Community Supported Art provides aspiring artists with an opportunity and financial support to complete their projects. The CSA operates as a subscription service and helps artists sell their work.

Fred "Fred-O" Onovwerosuoke

Last November, African Musical Arts was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Grant from the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) to fund a two-year pilot project, “The African Performing Arts Exchange.” In addition to producing concert performances and music engravings of works by African-descent composers, the exchange will offer a web-based platform to share these resources. The Exchange is the dream of African Musical Arts founder Fred “Fred-O” Onovwerosuoke. He and development director Wendy Hymes joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the Exchange and a concert to benefit the project.

Kaitlyn Petrin

Flute Flight is a duo performing Saturday in St. Louis that features the compatibility between conventional silver flutes and Native American style flutes.

Alex Heuer

New Jewish Theatre closes its 2014-15 with “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.” Based on a true story, the musical chronicles the life of writer David Hein’s mother while addressing the topic of marriage equality through song and dance. New Jewish Theatre artistic director Kathleen Sitzer and actors Ben Nordstrom and Laura Ackermann joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the production.

Nordstrom, who portrays David Hein, accompanied himself on guitar to perform the song that opens the production.

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