Arts & Culture

Regional Arts Commission executive director Felicia Shaw, Pulitzer director Cara Starke and St. Louis Symphony president Marie-Hélène Bernard
Regional Arts Commission, Pulitzer Arts Foundaiton and St. Louis Symphony

Three women who moved to St. Louis this year to head up major arts organizations are praising the area for assets ranging from architecture to sports teams. But all three agreed on one perk: the food.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for December 27, will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The “Keys and Strings Hour” will present pianists Teddy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Roger Kellaway, John Hicks, Ray Bryant, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Hampton Hawes in solo, duo, trio and quartet formats.  New music for December will be Scott Hamilton with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Junior Mance, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Carrie Wicks, A David Friesen & Glen Moore duet, vocalist Carrie Wicks, Amina Figarova, Chucho Valdes, Gary Bartz & the Heads of State, John Coltrane, Matthew Shipp, Orrin Evans a

Creative Commons

As the year comes to a close, we sit back with family and friends to discuss the past year and celebrate another year on earth.

To help aid any year-end reviews bandied about the house we’ve collected a number of songs that seem to offer some perspective on the life lessons we often think we’ve earned.

Clockwise from left: Alcar, Nick Carlson, Alan Cleaver, Quincy

The arts in St. Louis are similar to the fabled elephant described by six men who cannot see: “It’s like a snake!” cried one who grasped the tail. “No, a tree trunk!” insisted another, as he rubbed a leg.

Art is a staged dialogue that makes you wince with recognition. It's a brushstroke that evokes sadness; a beat your toes can’t help but keep. And it's as unique as the artist, as we've learned in our first year of putting together the Cut & Paste podcast.

Forest Folks | Flickr, Creative Commons |

As you dash about checking off the last of Christmas lists, begin to set the trimmings of a holiday feast, or simply relax with a day off of work, spend some time with the annual “St. Louis on the Air” Christmas special, which will air at noon on Christmas Eve.

We’re celebrating the holiday with renditions of favorite holiday music, stories and poems. Here’s what you’ll hear:

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A dispatch from the North Pole came to the “St. Louis on the Air” studio earlier this week with an offer we simply couldn’t refuse — the chance for three Santas from elsewhere around the world to visit with host Don Marsh and discuss what Christmas is like for children around the globe.

At first, there was a little suspicion.

Austin Fuller | Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The intense concentration of Erica, a fifth-grader at Walnut Grove Elementary School in Ferguson, was apparent as she played chess against one of the best in the world. This fall, chess grandmasters visited Walnut Grove and Vogt elementary schools, which as part of the Ferguson-Florissant School District are benefiting from the Your Move Chess program.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Organ tuner Dave Ressler was at the Old Cathedral on the St. Louis riverfront getting the pipe organ ready for Christmas.

The organ is a grand instrument that stretches across the choir loft of the church – its magnificent gold pipes encased in an ornate wooden cabinet that was built by a Cincinnati organ builder in 1838.

The St. Louis Public Library said its fine amnesty program is a way to say "thank you" to patrons for helping celebrate its 150th anniversary year.
Brenda Clarke | via Flickr

For one time only, the St. Louis Public Library is giving book-hoarding patrons a chance to return their overdue items without having to pay a cent in fines. 

Winter Holiday Music

Dec 19, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, December 20 will be “Winter Holiday Music.”  In this country, the month of December is host to four major celebratory traditions: Hanukkah (December 6-14), Winter Solstice (December 22), Christmas (December 25) and Kwanzaa (December 26-Jamuary 1).  We will play music not only of the season, but also suggestive of the season.  The artists heard on this show are Joe Henderson, Don Byron, Count Basie. The Sackville All-Stars, Dave Brubeck. Thomas Marriott, Keith Jarrett, Toshiko Akiyoshi.

Jamie Heuer

We here at “Cityscape” know—making the perfect paper snowflake can yield some serious headaches. No, really, we do. For a recent holiday party, we were each in charge of making paper snowflakes. Amid cries of exasperation like ‘Crud! I cut the wrong edge!’ and ‘It doesn’t look like anything,’ we thought to call for help.

(Courtesy Bach Society of Saint Louis)

In the lead-up to Christmas, the Bach Society of Saint Louis’ Christmas Candlelight Concert is a tradition almost as old as eggnog itself—this year marks the 75th anniversary of the organization devoted to performing choral works by Johann Sebastian Bach, among other classical composers.

Kyjuan and Murphy Lee pose for a portrait outside their new St. Charles vape lounge, Vape Ya Tailfeather.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If you live in St. Louis you probably know the song "Shake Ya Tailfeather" by Nelly, Murphy Lee, and P. Diddy. Now Murphy Lee, 37 and his brother Kyjuan, 39, are breathing new life into the song, in an unexpected way. They’re launching the vape juice line, Vape Ya Tailfeather.

“In the music industry I think somehow if you pay attention to your surroundings, you become a marketing genius,” said Lee. “You know how to sell it because you are the brand.”

Courtesy National Lutheran Choir

The 63-member National Lutheran Choir, based in Minneapolis, is making its sixth stop in St. Louis to perform its annual Christmas festival, this time themed “The Spotless Rose.” The performance will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood on Saturday.

“We look for a space that fits the kind of program that we do,” said David Cherwein, artistic director of the choir. “That was more of the effort than ecumenical issues…which I would love to brag about, but I can’t. We’re really all partners in the whole thing.”

Emma Clemenson on the right in the late 1990s with four cousins, all in their Christmas kimonas, singing "Sisters" from the movie "White Christmas." Singing along with the movie has been a family tradition for six decades.
Courtesy Mary Burke

For Mary Burke of Kirkwood, watching  the 1954 movie “White Christmas” is like Santa Claus and candy canes — a holiday tradition. Burke and her three sisters grew up in the 50s and 60s singing and dancing along with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. It’s something they never outgrew.

Courtesy Don Marsh

If you’re a Star Wars fanatic, your thrusters are probably already in hyperdrive in anticipation of the release of the next installment of the franchise, “The Force Awakens,” which opened Thursday night. It is hard to imagine the films without the entire subculture of cosplay, props, toys, videogames, books and action-figures that come with them.  But, alas, there did exist a time before wookies and droids and Han Solo. That’s where “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh comes in.

Magnus Carlsen with the London Chess Classic trophy after he won.
Spectrum Studios

It's been a strange year at the top of the chess standings. Going into the year before the first Grand Chess Tour stop in Norway, the elite had distanced themselves quite a bit from the rest of the pack. There was a marked difference in rating between those in the top-10 and those below; a significant gap of 30 or so points. And yet, it wasn't a good year for basically anyone at the top.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

We’ve talked with the local storytelling project, Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration, extensively for a number of years, but 2015 marks something special: the tenth anniversary of the organization. For that birthday, the project partnered with students all over the world to anthologize stories of an important era in international history—World War II—from previous editions of Grannie Annie books.

Horace Pippin, American, 1888-1946; Sunday Morning Breakfast, 1943; oil on fabric; 16 x 20 inches
Provided by Alexandre Gallery, New York

The artist Horace Pippin has been embraced by the St. Louis Art Museum and that is an occasion in which all of us should find joy at this season – along with plenty of challenging ideas and issues to contemplate.

A 16-by-20 inch, oil-on-fabric painting by Pippin has been purchased by the museum for its permanent collection. It’s not a pretty picture; rather, it’s rich in narrative and meaning, and presents a deeply affecting and disturbing scene of domestic complexity. Even the frame in its slightly battered condition lends a special authenticity to the picture.

Penrose Park Velodrome

If you drive from the airport toward downtown on I-70, you’ve probably missed a little-known bicyclists’ haven which sits just beyond your field of vision off of the highway at its intersection at Kingshighway Blvd: The Penrose Park Velodrome. It is one of 27 of its kind in the entire United States.

When Christopher Braig isn’t playing a saxophone, the computer often becomes his instrument.
Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio

At St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus one Friday, Christopher Braig types chords and scales into a computer for students in his jazz improvisation class. They discuss the function of each note in the blues scale before Braig hits a key: The pitch sounds through the auditorium’s speakers and the note appears on a large projector screen at the front of the room. The group reads and hears the music in real time. Then they play. By the time class ends, the written music, a blues accompaniment track and audio examples are waiting for the students on their home computers.

The Smithsonian has bought the mirrored coffin, created by local artists as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lawrence Bryant |St. Louis American

A new initiative will pay former prisoners to make art. The project stems from the Mirror Casket, art produced during Ferguson related protests. According to one artist, there’s a direct relationship between issues of police brutality and mass incarceration.

“Whether your life is taken by a bullet or is taken by a prison cell, that life, that potential, is still taken away from this person,” said De Andrea Nichols.

Bosnians of all ages gathered near the Sebilj Fountain in South City
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Twenty years ago the Dayton Peace Accord put an end to the extreme violence and ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian War. But many St. Louis Bosnians feel the document left the country with no road to progress.

The choir of United Believers in Christ Ministries opened the first service at the church's new building on Sunday with several worship songs.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The yellow house at 8820 North Broadway in St. Louis looks like most of the others on the block, but the worship music wafting out onto the sidewalk signals this is the new home of United Believers in Christ Ministries

Unknown / Courtesy of Richard Davis

Jazz Unlimited for December 13, 2015 will be “The Career of Richard Davis.”  Bassist Richard Davis was born in Chicago in 1930.  In high school, he studied with Captain Walter Dyett.  After college, he worked in dance bands and with Don Shirley.  He got to New York in 1954, playing with the Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra.  Davis accompanied Sarah Vaughan from 1957-1960.  During this time, he was building a studio career playing music of many genres.  His studio work included hit records by Laura Nyro (Smile) Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and Van Morrison (Astral Weeks

Book cover

Until now, all the rescued and restored Kraus House at 120 North Ballas Rd. in Ebsworth Park needed was a good book – a book about its place in the Frank Lloyd Wright catalog, a literary acclamation of its place in the history of American architecture, a hard-cover book with a sturdy sewn spine. Now, it has it.

It’s 20 degrees warmer than area average at this time of year. It’s Friday. It's quite possible there are too many gooey butter cakes and cookies starting to pile up around the office. You're riding a sugar high and you've just noticed the imminent energy crash. In honor of that afternoon buzzy feeling that comes from too much caffeine and pre-weekend excitement, we present three local acts that tackle pop music through a slightly skewed and, to be utterly redundant, buzzy lens.

The view inside Público.
Greg Rannells | Sauce Magazine

Things got a little heated in the Sauce Magazine office while putting together the most recent issue, the best new restaurants of 2015. Post-it notes were stolen; Editors got in fights; People had to return to eat delicious foods at their choice contenders time and time again—all in the name of finding the most delicious new restaurants in the area. It was for you, dear listener.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s “Cityscape,” we talked about the most influential, interesting and moving parts of St. Louis’ arts and culture scene in 2015. Themes of social justice, urban design, and the continued evolution of issues within the Zoo-Museum District were all part of the discussion.

Joining us were the folks who know it best: St. Louis Public Radio’s arts and culture reporters: Nancy Fowler, Willis Ryder Arnold and Robert Duffy.

Curious Louis Holiday Movies illustration
Susannah Lohr

For Amber Hinsley of St. Charles, nothing says “Christmas” like huddling in the dark with dozens of strangers. In a movie theater, of course.