Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Shakespeare Festival presented "Winter's Tale" as its 2017 mainstage production in Forest Park.
Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has named Tom Ridgely of New York to fill the post of  executive producer, which includes both artistic and leadership roles.

Ridgley comes to St. Louis from New York City’s Waterwell theater company, which he founded in 2002. He replaces Rick Dildine, who headed Shakespeare Festival St. Louis for eight years.

Omega Jones plays Jesus in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This rendition is set in a dystopian world and portrays Jesus as a complicated human.
Stray Dog Theatre

Growing up in and out of foster care, St. Louis singer and actor Omega Jones managed to find a silver lining: self-reliance.

It’s a trait that helps him confront racism as a young black man — and handle  the ups and downs of musical theater.

“I know at the end of the day, I’m taking care of me; no one else is,” he said.

2017 U.S. Chess Champion, GM Wesley So and the 2017 U.S. Women's Chess Champion, Sabina Foisor.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

It’s that time of the year again. The best chess players in the United States will once again reunite in the world capital of chess, St. Louis, as they get ready for the most important national competition of the year: the 2018 U.S. Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship.

The tournaments are scheduled to start April 17 and conclude on April 30, when the winners in each section will be declared the 2018 champions.  Both tournaments will include the 12 best players this nation has to offer in their respective sections, as they compete for the highest laurels in a round robin format.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 8, 2018 will be “Grammy Winners in My Collection-Part 2.”  In it’s early days, the jazz Grammy Awards were not awarded for great music, but by the popularity of the musicians and the Hollywood-Centric voters.  Great music began to creep in by the late 1960’s.  We will play selections from the 80 Grammy winning jazz recordings in my collection from 1959 to the present.  In all of the Jazz Grammys, there is no Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out,” not one Blue Note label or Prestige label 1960’s jazz classi

Whether you are a lover of musical theater or not, one can't help but notice that it surrounds our culture. Last year "La La Land" won academy awards galore and this year we have "The Greatest Showman" up for awards in the major film award shows. And you would have to be living in a vacuum to not know something about "Hamilton,” the big Broadway bash which is currently playing at the Fox and travelling around the country, and of course we are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Muny.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis premiered Champion by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer in 2013.
Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ departing general director and his replacement may very well pass each other on the way to their new jobs.

The St. Louis organization has announced that Andrew Jorgensen will become its new general director. Jorgensen comes to St. Louis from the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C., where he directs artistic planning and operations. It’s the same organization where current Opera Theatre general director Timothy O’Leary is heading July 1 to become general director there.

Cassandra Pace, center, teaches Sarah Wright-Aholt and Kristin Carlson how to skin a rat at her Creaky Crow taxidermy class.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans looking for a new date night activity can add taxidermy to the list.

The Creaky Crow, a four-month-old curiosity shop on Cherokee Street, now offers hands-on taxidermy classes. Aspiring taxidermists learn the basics of animal preservation, from skinning to stuffing, while enjoying a glass of wine.

 


Tiny Desk Happy Hour showcases 3 St. Louis bands

Apr 5, 2018
STLPR’s Lindsay Toler (at left) and local musician Paige Alyssa discussed the broad spectrum of musical styles demonstrated among the local groups who entered this year’s competition.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 St. Louis-area bands responded to the call for submissions to the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest from NPR Music over the past few weeks. And this year, Paige Alyssa made sure her group was one of them.

“[Last year] I was like, ‘Next year I’m going to make sure I get that going,’” Alyssa said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air in conversation with host Don Marsh. “And so I got me and my band together, and we got into a practice room at my job and pulled my desk in there, and we set the tone and got the vibe right. And we just did a few takes of ‘The Plug,’ and here we are.”

On Chess: The 169-year-old modern chess set

Apr 5, 2018
England: Jaques 50th Set - Lord Vernon, 1855. King size: 4 ½ inches. Box is 5 ⅛ x  8 ⅜ x 6 inches. Ivory. Collection of Jon Crumiller.
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Chess has been called a universal language.

In "Islandborn," Junot Diaz writes for immigrant children.
Illustration by Leo Espinosa

For more than 20 years, novelist Junot Diaz has explored the immigrant experience.

From his debut 1996 novel, “Drown,” a semi-autobiographical work on the life of a young Dominican transplant to the United States, to “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, Diaz has found inspiration in the culture that surrounds him. 

His work has won him more than just accolades. He is a MacArthur “genius grant” winner and teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his books and in person, his use of language is very much for an adult audience. But for years, his two goddaughters and other children have asked him to craft stories with them in mind. Diaz has done so with his latest book, “Islandborn,” which tackles the dilemma of an island girl in the United States: How do I remember where I come from?

The grounds crew works on the field at Busch Stadium last week. Construction was still under way on the Budweiser Terrace, a new social gathering area in the upper right field seating sections. It will feature lounge seating, standing areas and two bars.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

After a cold and wet start to the season, Major League Baseball finally sloshes into the Gateway City at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Clydesdales take their first strut of the season around the warning track at Busch Stadium.

The St. Louis Cardinals are promising all of the traditional trimmings for their home-opening ceremonies: Motorcades will deliver the Hall of Famers and the 2018 team to home plate. There will be a color guard, a giant American flag at center field, and — weather permitting — a flyover by a KC-135 Stratotanker, an Air Force refueling aircraft.

The bibimbap bowl at VP Square is a dish from Sauce Magazine's 'Hit List' for April 2018.
Michelle Volansky | Sauce Magazine

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with our partners from Sauce Magazine about the best new restaurants to try during the month of April.

Joining him for the discussion were Catherine Klene and Matt Sorrell, managing editor and staff writer, respectively.

Sonja Perryman has found her niche at the intersection of storylines and public health.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Sonja Perryman’s love for storytelling developed early in life, along with her sense of its potential to impact lives. She has vivid memories of reading “The Baby-Sitters Club” books as a girl and telling her father about one particular character in the series.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, she has diabetes, and she’s always thirsty and always hungry,’” Perryman recalled in a conversation this week on St. Louis on the Air. “And I remember my dad’s face going pale – well, as pale as it could go, but he looked like he saw a ghost – and he was like, ‘What were her symptoms again?’”

Tickets to the touring version of "Hamilton," coming to the Fox Theatre, sold out in less than five hours.
Joan Marcus

After standing in line, waiting in online queues and forking out big bucks, St. Louisans will be able see “Hamilton” in their hometown.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blend of musical theater, hip-hop, blues, jazz and rap begins Tuesday night and runs through April 22 at The Fox Theatre. The musical turns traditional casting on its head, with actors of color playing the men who shaped the nation, including the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr.

Anna Quindlen fields a question from Don Marsh during last week’s event.
Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Library

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, listeners heard host Don Marsh in conversation with bestselling novelist Anna Quindlen. She was in town last week for a book-signing event presented by St. Louis County Library, and Marsh interviewed her on stage before an audience of more than 200 people.

Among many other topics, the discussion touched on Quindlen’s decision to give up a Pulitzer Prize-winning career in journalism to become a full-time novelist.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 1, 2018 will be “Grammy Winners in My Collection-Part 1.”  In it’s early days, the jazz Grammy Awards were not awarded for great music, but by the popularity of the musicians and the Hollywood-Centric voters.  Great music began to creep in by the late 1960’s.  We will play selections from the 80 Grammy winning jazz recordings in my collection from 1959 to the present.  In all of the Jazz Grammys, there is no Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out,” not one Blue Note label or Prestige label 1960’s jazz classi

A painting of William H. Gass hangs in Washington University's Olin Library. (Detail; oil on canvas, 1995, Marion Miller)
Image courtesy of Washington University

The writings of the late author and philosopher William H. Gass have a reputation for being cerebrally intimidating to some would-be readers. But when Joel Minor opened one of Gass’ books for the first time years ago, he was pleasantly surprised by a sense of accessibility.

“I found his work very approachable,” said Minor, who now oversees the Modern Literature Collection where Gass’ literary archive is housed. “‘Middle C’ is, I think, a very engrossing, approachable book. If you go into it knowing it’s not going to be a strictly linear narrative from start to finish, you’re going to be able to follow it and really appreciate his ability to work the language in a unique way in this character’s perspective.”

Busch Stadium in 2014.
OAKLEYORIGINALS | FLICKR | HTTP://BIT.LY/1QD8RZX

This week brought the start of the Major League Baseball season and the first defeat for the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost a 9-4 opener to the New York Mets. But the Redbirds have 161 games yet to go this year, and longtime sports writer Rob Rains says the team is looking stronger than it was a year ago.

“I like the young pitchers,” he told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Friday. “I really think they’re probably still a year away from being a really good team because of the youth of the pitchers.”

Basketball players huddle for a prayer at the Monsanto Family YMCA.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

For Marcus Wilson, basketball is more than just a game — and he has the career to prove it. Before becoming the executive director of the Monsanto Family YMCA, Wilson learned that basketball could take him far in life and away from the rough neighborhood he came from.

Now he wants to make sure others have that same opportunity.

Every Saturday morning, Wilson opens the court of his YMCA off of Page Blvd., free of charge for anyone wanting to play basketball.

Sister An Mei, left, and Sister Mary Lea Hill wave to a group of high school students who recently visited the Pauline Books and Media store in Crestwood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Daughters of St. Paul have operated Pauline Books and Media, a small bookstore adjoining their convent in Crestwood, since the 1980s. But these days, the Roman Catholic sisters are reaching people far beyond St. Louis with their posts and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Using the hashtag #MediaNuns, they tweet friendly messages of inspiration:

“If you do nothing else today, remember that God loves you.”

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