Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Conductor Philip Barnes (left) and composer Ēriks Ešenvalds talked about their musical collaboration for the St. Louis Chamber Chorus' "States of Being" season.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Chamber Chorus (SLCC) opens its 2018-2019 season, “States of Being,” with the world premiere of “On Friendship” by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. It was commissioned by the St. Louis Chamber Chorus with a gift from Nancy Kranzberg and Alison Ferring in honor of former SLCC member Alice Sherwood.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Ešenvalds joined host Don Marsh, alongside SLCC’s artistic director Philip Barnes, to talk about his work set to words from “The Prophet” by poet Khalil Gibran.

"Living In Tents" chronicles an encampment of homeless people by the St. Louis riverfront. 9/27/18
Courtesy Artica Films

Paul Crane was scouting sites for an assignment in a photography class in 2010 when he came upon an encampment of homeless people living in tents by the St. Louis riverfront, not far from the Four Seasons hotel. He befriended one of the leaders of the community, and soon set up his own tent there while he shot footage for a documentary film.

The result is “Living In Tents,” which became available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video in August and will be shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November.

The American "Big Three" at the Batumi Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia in 2018. From left, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Caruana's coach and Wesley So.
Lana Afandiyeva

When Americans hear of a “Big Three,” nostalgia might take their minds to competitors in the automotive industry or the early television networks. Fans of the runaway NBC television hit "This is Us" may shed uncontrollable tears when hearing the phrase.

Today’s American chess fans know Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So as the “Big Three.” They represent the United States. St. Louis and the St.Louis Chess Club and have played an integral role in raising the standards of American chess.

The first of 10 straight U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championships held in St. Louis were played in 2009, with Nakamura, then a newly-minted 2700 FIDE, reigning supreme for his second title.

Johnny, played by Michael McClelland, wipes his head and tries to gather his thoughts as he wife Celia, played by Patience Davis, sits nearby, in the Slaying Dragons production of "A Hatful of Rain."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis theater troupe is using a play that highlights drug addiction in the mid-1950s to combat the opioid crisis of today.

This weekend, the Slaying Dragons company will present “A Hatful of Rain” at The Chapel theater. The play, about a Korean War veteran addicted to morphine, examines secrecy, shame and family dynamics.

The production draws on moments from everyday life to show that no family is safe from addiction, director Brad Slavik said in an interview.

The Parlor's Cup at Parlor, a bar located in the Grove neighborhood, is just one offering among a growing trend of low-to-no-ABV cocktails.
Carmen Troesser | Sauce Magazine

An evening of merriment, fun and flavor doesn’t have to involve alcohol – that’s an oft-repeated and frequently doubted notion. But it’s a growing mantra even among some bartenders and drink-industry enthusiasts, and it needn’t be a buzz kill.

Plus, for people trying to drink less – or not at all – it’s a welcome trend that can make the idea of going out socially much more appealing.

“It’s so valuable to remove that social element of not drinking,” said Heather Hughes, managing editor of Sauce Magazine. “If you’re trying not to drink for whatever reason – if you think you may have a problem or if you are pregnant – it’s a huge issue of concern to go out with people.”

Mark Sutherland and Thomas Richardson are two local Scots who were involved in organizing the upcoming St. Louis Scottish Games & Culture Festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The sound of bagpipes playing and the smell of haggis will fill the air in Chesterfield this weekend as the St. Louis Scottish Games & Culture Festival will convene for its 15th annual event.

Since the 1700s, Scots settled across the United States, and pockets of Scottish communities can be found in Missouri, such as the Ozarks. Thomas Richardson, communications director for the Scottish St. Andrew Society of Greater STL, estimates that around half a million people that claim Scottish heritage in their lineage reside in the state.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke with two of them: Richardson and Mark Sutherland, a board member for the St. Louis Scottish Games. Both men have been involved in the organization of the event.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 23, 2018 will be  “Jazz Giants For September and October.”  Jazz Giants are musicians who influence the course of jazz or who are major influences on their instrument.  We will be hearing jazz played by Art Pepper, Art Tatum, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Oscar Pettiford, Clifford Brown, Ray Brown, Horace Silver, Gerald Wilson, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Holland, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Arthur Blythe and our own Lester Bowie and Oliver Lake.

Actors Sean MacLaughlin (left) and Michelle Aravena (right) portray characters Juan Perón and Eva Perón.
Eric Woolsey

Eva Perón, also known as Evita, was a first lady of Argentina and radio host adored by the “common man,” later becoming a cultural icon in her country. Controversial for using her power and fame to champion women’s and workers’ rights, she often broke norms.

She was the first woman in Argentina's history, for example, to appear in public on the campaign trail with her husband.

She was so loved by many that her body mysteriously went missing for 17 years after her death. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ current musical production, “Evita,” portrays her life on stage.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the play with Steve Woolf, Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and actor Pepe Nufrio, who plays the Che character in “Evita." 

Carmen Connors' tiny-bus house is about 200-square-feet total.
Carmen Connors

While some may see the trend of minimalism as a new fad in the developed world, living simply with few possessions is a practice that dates back to ancient times. Various interpretations of the lifestyle exist. However, they all share a common theme: eliminate excess and add purpose to one’s life.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, local minimalist Amber Sebold defined a person who adopts the lifestyles as “somebody who is very careful about what they keep in their lives – the physical items, [and] basically everything has a purpose and a meaning and adds value to their life.”

Garry Kasparov (facing camera) and Veselin Topalov compete in the Champions Showdown Chess960 event at Saint Louis Chess Club in September 2018,
Lennart Ootes | Saint Louis Chess Club

The opening is considered by many to be a sacred part of chess. Over the course of chess history, an enormous amount of theory has been developed covering the vast branches of possibilities resulting from the starting position.

In the modern era of professional chess, grandmasters will memorize thousands of opening variations, supported by thorough computer analysis. While robust opening preparation is a necessity for any top player, it has led to adverse effects for the sport. Elite competitions are seeing a growing percentage of draws, as it’s becoming more difficult to crack a well-prepared opponent.

Neal Bascomb is the author of "The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War"
Caitlin Lally | St. Louis Public Radio

When considering the pivotal moments of World War I, the Great Escape of 1918 is likely not the first incident that comes to mind. Indeed, the history of this truly remarkable episode has largely gone unnoticed in the 100 years since it transpired.

Neal Bascomb’s latest book “The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War” attempts to shed light on this central event in world history. Bascomb joined host Don Marsh for a conversation about the new book on this Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

From left, Marie-Hélène Bernard and Erik Finley look forward to the season opener of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra this weekend.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra begins its 2018-19 season this weekend.

“It’s an exciting time,” Marie-Hélène Bernard said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air in advance of the SLSO’s 139th season that features music director designate Stéphane Denève.

While Devène does not officially start as music director until the 2019-20 season, he will conduct four concerts, and Bernard explained his role this year with an analogy.

Lebanese photographer Fadi BouKaram is making a return trip through U.S. towns named Lebanon.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Fadi BouKaram is a Lebanese photographer who in late 2016 embarked on U.S. road trip to visit communities named Lebanon. There are more than 40 such towns and cities in the country that share the name of his homeland, a country in the Middle East that’s a bit smaller than Connecticut.

BouKaram is making a return trip to many of the communities he visited more than a year ago with stops planned in Lebanon, Illinois and Lebanon, Missouri.

Fiction writer Michael Nye (at left), Left Bank Books co-owner Kris Kleindienst (center) and Kathleen Finneran, a senior writer in residence at Washington University, are among those involved in this weekend’s festival.
Erica Ott & St. Louis Public Radio

Kris Kleindienst need only glance out toward the entrance to her bookstore at the corner of Euclid and McPherson avenues for some solid reminders of St. Louis’ literary legacy. The busts of four canonical writers adorn the intersection – T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin and William Burroughs, all of whom spent formative years in the city.

But Kleindienst is just as enthusiastic about St. Louis’ contemporary writing community as she is about the region’s historical claims to writerly fame.

“We’re a great literary town, and that – in my 44 years of bookselling – has really just become clearer and clearer to me,” the Left Bank Books co-owner said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air during a discussion ahead of Bookfest St. Louis.

Harris-Stowe State University

Harris-Stowe State University’s historic Vashon Community Center is getting an upgrade.

The university has received a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service to renovate the interior of the 1936 building, along with $1.2 million from the state of Missouri. The building has most recently been used for storage, but after the $1.7-million renovations, the former public recreation center will again be open to the public.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission envisions a more ambitious agenda for the St. Louis area’s cultural community. In a plan released late last week, the grant-making organization set out a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene.

Among the plan’s recommendations is that arts groups work with local organizations to help solve community problems. Arts groups can play a role with efforts to build affordable housing, improve public safety and other civic initiatives, RAC executive director Felicia Shaw said.

Dennis Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for September 16, 2018 will be “The Career of Buddy Rich.”  At age eight, Buddy Rich was in vaudeville and was known as “Traps, the Drum Wonder.”  His jazz career began with the swing bands in the late ‘30’s and went through Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz and Harry James until he formed his very popular big band in 1966 that lasted until his death in 1987.  In addition to his band, we will hear Rich with Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Charlie Ventura, Flip Phillips, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson,

Felicia Shaw is the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission is trumpeting what it claims is the first comprehensive regional planning effort of its kind in St. Louis.

Among other things, the 90-page report calls for more arts education and collaborations among groups that have previously not worked together.

The focus of the report is “how can the arts play a larger role in making St. Louis a better place to live,” explained Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC).

Shaw was St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh’s guest on Friday.

Hundreds of people participate in a die-in at police headquarters in downtown St. Louis during the fall 2017 protests against the Stockley verdict.
Eric Pan

Updated at 4:12 p.m. with clarification — When early photos of the 2014 Ferguson protests flashed across photographer Eric Pan’s phone and computer screen, he mainly saw active confrontation — and wondered if there was more to the story.­

Pan brought his camera to Ferguson, where protesters took to the streets after then-officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Michael Brown, a black man. Three years later, he joined marches against a judge’s acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, in the death of a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith.

Pan’s perspective on both protests is the subject of an exhibition opening Saturday at the Griot Museum of Black History and Culture called “Civil Unrest in Review.”

The St. Louis-based literary magazine’s latest issue, which runs about 200 pages and includes some focus on immigration, features cover art by Tran Nguyen.
Boulevard

For nearly 35 years now, Boulevard magazine has been publishing works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction by both luminaries and emerging writers. Its hot-off-the-press 100th issue continues that tradition, offering readers a vibrant mix of contemporary literature penned by a wide range of writers.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the St. Louis-based literary magazine’s evolution and legacy since its founding in 1984.

Joining him for the discussion were the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Rogen, as well as celebrated writers Joyce Carol Oates and Carl Phillips.

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