Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez
Photo by Betsy Newman. Courtesy of the artist.

Anyone who visits Cuba would be struck by two important musical currents: the streetwise character of modern dance music — and the elegance of classically trained performers adept at various genres.

 

St. Louisans this week have a chance to see both when pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, who hails from the Cuban Institute of Music, joins conga player Pedrito Martinez, who had no formal training. Since crossing paths in the United States in recent years, they’ve played together on stage and on recordings.

Their latest collaboration will be at Jazz at the Bistro, where they will perform fuse jazz and Afro-Cuban music, including timba, the fiery dance music that took the island by storm a couple of decades ago.

A Parkway School District and Mizzou Veterinary School grad, James Rollins, is a bestselling author of over 30 books, including the Tucker Wayne and Jake Ransom novels. He recently released his 33rd book, “The Seventh Plague,” the next book in the Sigma series.

On Tuesday, he joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the novel, his writing process and how he has managed to become such a prolific author in so little time.

Music director David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony.
Provided by the St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony and its musicians have a five-year contract that will increase the minimum salary for musicians to $100,000 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The agreement, signed seven months before the current contract expires, aims to improve flexibility with scheduling, make rehearsals more efficient, and update tour conditions for musicians.

It comes after several strong financial performances and a significant 2016 annual campaign that helped boost the symphony's endowment to more than $200 million.  The contract will establish a stable working environment over the next five years – one that helps attract top talent in classical music, according to Vicky Smolik, Musicians Association of St. Louis representative.

Nathaniel Ayers may not yet be a household name in classical music, but you surely know who he is. The  prodigy’s story was depicted in the 2009 film “The Soloist” by actor Jamie Foxx. It was Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez who discovered Ayers in 2005 and originally wrote a book about him, by the same title.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 29, 2016 will be “Jazz Giants Born in January and February.”  Jazz Giants are those musicians whose individuality makes them both instantly recognizable by their sound and revered for their inspiring playing. Among these giants are Henry "Red" Allen, Mildred Bailey, Frank Butler, Big Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke, Curtis Counce, Tadd Dameron, Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Forrest, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, J. J. Johnson, James P.

This artist's rendering shows a renovated studio space at COCA.
Provided | COCA

Hammering and drilling will soon join the chorus of tap dancing and singing at the COCA arts center in University City.

The institution will launch an expansion and renovation in early 2018. It includes a 450-seat theater, more than 8,000 square feet of studio space, a community area and a 200-car parking garage. COCA expects to complete the work in late 2019.

After a controversial fall season overshadowed by community outrage over Kelley Walker's “Direct Drive,” the Contemporary Art Museum will unveil a spring season this weekend.

A selection of posters from the nominees for a 2017 St. Louis Theater Circle Award.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Theater Circle on Friday released its 2017 award nominees for locally produced professional theater in 2016. This is the fifth year of the awards.

Max & Louie Productions’ “Grey Gardens,” received the top number of nominations, with 11, followed closely by The Rep’s “Follies,” with 10. Some 60 productions received nominations.

The production company leading nominations numbers was The Rep, with 24 nominations, followed by St. Louis Shakespeare, with 11 nominations. In total, 27 production companies had nominations.

This file photo of the painting "Exasperation" by local artist Fabio Rodriguez depicts people in his home of the Domincan Republic desperate for essentials like food and water. It was cut from an art exhibition for being potentially disturbing.
Provided | Fabio Rodriguez

St. Louis-area artist Fabio Rodriguez was devastated when a very personal piece of his work was removed from an exhibition. But did that action rise to the level of censorship?

Zac Adcox, the general manager of Blood & Sand.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For eight years, Sauce Magazine has put together its “Ones to Watch” list, highlighting up-and-coming talent in the St. Louis dining industry. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard about some of the chefs, brewers, general managers and bakers.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

Since the Rams went west (and south, if you count their record), who did St. Louis pay attention to in the NFL this season?

Wesley So is the current lead of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, pictured here at last year's London Chess Classic.
Saint Louis Chess Club and Spectrum Studios

Every year the first and longest elite tournament starts in January: Tata Steel!

The Wimbledon of Chess, as it is known, started Jan. 14 and ends Jan. 30. Traditionally held at the town of Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands, this tournament attracts the best of the best. The event lasts for two weeks and 13 rounds, so physical fitness plays a crucial role in this prestigious tournament. 

What is the story behind Natural Bridge Road?
AA Roads

If you’ve ever wondered where in the world the “natural bridge” in Natural Bridge Road comes from, you’re not alone. The answer is tied to Missouri's abundance of caves and the underground world of St. Louis.

It’s a question Joe Light, vice president of the Meramec Valley Grotto and member of the Missouri Speleological Survey, gets asked all the time. Several Curious Louis questioners have wondered the same thing.

T.J. Muller, Kellie Everett and Kevin Belford joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the Sidney Street Shakers.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you’re from St. Louis, you know that the region was the epicenter of the nation’s first pop music in the 1800s — ragtime. But St. Louis has contributed much more to the nation’s music legacy.

The Sidney Street Shakers, a local jazz group that solely plays St. Louis jazz of the 1920s, want to bring awareness to that legacy.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for January 22, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The first hour of Jazz Unlimited will feature some compositions and lyrics of Alec Wilder played by pianists Clarence Profit, Marian McPartland, Keith Jarrett, Rene Rosnes, George Shearing and Bill Charlap and sung by Carline Ray and Meredith D’Ambrosio.  New music will be heard in the second hour and will feature new albums by our own Pat Joyce and Ptah Williams along with saxophonist Bruce Williams, the Mamu Trio from Belgium, Freddie Redd, John Moulder, Clay Gibberson, Jane Bunnett &a

Children hold anti-rascist signs while standing on the lawn at a Ferguson related protest.
Provided by Lucas Alvarado Farrar

A local filmmaker aims to bring international audiences an authentic take on the protests that occurred in Ferguson two years ago after then-officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown.

Director Damon Davis’ documentary “Whose Streets” takes an unflinching look at the Ferguson protests from the position of protesters and activists.  The film debuts today at the internationally recognized Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. 

Jenni Harpring shares her story at a Campfire immersive storytelling event in November 2016.
Jennifer Korman

Telling stories has been a part of human communities since time immemorial. Today, intentional groups are forming to preserve and enhance the art in St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Library
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A so-called "ransomware attack" is causing problems at all St. Louis Public Library branches.

Library system spokeswoman Jen Hatton says one of the system's servers is being blocked by an outsider who is asking for money in exchange for returning control of the server back to the library. The amount of the ransom being demanded is not being released.  

Hatton says the FBI has been contacted and is investigating the attack. The library's own technology employees are also working on repairing the server.

Grand Master Wesley So who is a member of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops team
Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Lennart Ootes

With an exciting start to the season last Wednesday, The PRO Chess League will be the hot topic in chess for the next two months

In this piece, I would like to delve deeper into various aspects of the league, and its potential to revolutionize the game of chess.

Riverview Gardens High band director Harvey Lockhart leads a class through practice. (Jan. 17, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Music is vitally important to Riverview Gardens High School band director Harvey Lockhart. But his students' well-being ranks even higher.

During the past five years, Lockhart has made musicians out of dozens of students, changing the way they see themselves and their futures.

For his efforts, The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis will honor Lockhart Monday night as art educator of the year, in a ceremony at the Chase Park Plaza.

The Prime Beauty supply store sign that was salvaged from rubble after Ferguson related protests turned chaotic has been turned into a sculpture.
Provided by Bryce Robinson

In 2014 Ferguson resident Bryce Robinson had the surreal experience of watching from a distance as his hometown became the center of national media coverage. When then-police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, the city erupted in protest.

Robinson, 29, was teaching at Notre Dame during the protests and civil unrest that occurred after the shooting. He was struck by the largely chaotic and disaster-focused narrative carried on livestreams and traditional news coverage.

He hopes to remind people of the thriving community that lived through troubled times with an exhibit at the Kranzberg Arts Center gallery.

Harvard professor Daniel D'Oca's students used an innovative approach to understand fair housing in Ferguson and the St. Louis metropolitan area.  (Jan. 18, 2017)
Daniel D'Oca

Daniel D’Oca, a professor in the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, recently turned his Fall 2016 Urban Planning and Design Studio into a case study in making accessible solutions for fair housing and urban segregation — in St. Louis.

He and a group of students studied the history of housing policy in the metropolitan area and how segregation contributed to the protests in Ferguson.

Construction of the terminal designed by Minoru Yamasaki began in 1953. This photo shows the wooden framework that workers constructed before pouring the concrete to make the thin-shell concrete structure.
Missouri History Museum

In 2020, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will celebrate its centennial.

Ahead of that time, we spoke with Daniel Rust, a former UMSL professor studying transportation and logistics, who recently published the book “The Aerial Crossroads of America: St. Louis’s Lambert Airport.” Rust currently is a researcher and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

"The Way," by Alexander Liberman, seen in this file photo, is a made of steel oil tanks. While modern, it nods to many facets of ancient architecture.
Provided | Kevin J. Miyazaki

St. Louis sculpture fans can now have a hand in taking care of public art.

Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills is asking individuals and groups to help maintain and preserve its displays with a new adoption program. Adoptions start at $25 a year.

At the lower level, contributors get their names on Laumeier’s website and an on-site digital wall. For $50, they receive an adoption paper and a color photo of their sculpture. At the top level of $500, they get a private tour of the park with the park’s executive director. All donations are tax-deductible.

Jazz From London

Jan 15, 2017
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for January 15, 2017 will be “Jazz From London.”  Until 1950, American jazz groups were banned from working in England by the British Musicians Union.  Since then, visiting American and other expatriate jazz musicians and groups have performed regularly in Britain.  We will hear some of those recordings.  The artists heard on this show will be Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Don Byas, Fats Waller, Mary Lou Williams, the South African Chris McGregor and his Brotherhood of Breath, Jazz at the Philharmonic, Buddy Rich, Gene Harris, Chick

It's here! NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest for 2017 is now open for your entries. 

Submit a video of you, or your band, playing an original song behind a desk of your choosing. You could win a chance to play your own Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

Detail from Winter Wolves concert poster designed by Lauren Gornik
Provided by Lauren Gornik

For many people, conservationists and heavy metal fans may not seem to have much in common. But for Simon Koch, they're a natural combination. 

That's why for the third year in a row Koch has organized a “Winter Wolves: a benefit for the Endangered Wolf Center.”

Lemon Gem owner Beth Styles.
Michelle Volansky | Sauce Magazine

The Sound Bites team at Sauce Magazine is back and ready to help you plan your nights out at St. Louis restaurants during the month of January.

On Thursday, Catherine Klene and Meera Nagarajan, the magazine’s managing editor and art director, respectively, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the openings and closings of restaurants you should know. 

Members of St. Louis' Improv Shop -- Tyler Crandall, Andrew Langerak, Erinne Haberl, Daniel Westheimer, Asia Thomas, Sue Koppel -- perform on stage in this file photo.
Provided | Improv Shop

We’ve all had that dream. You know, the one where you’re naked on stage and the audience is laughing.

For an improv performer, that’s no nightmare; that’s life. OK, they're wearing clothes but they're emotionally naked, working without a script, responding off the cuff to random cues from the audience and their co-performers.

On Chess: What to look forward to in 2017

Jan 11, 2017
Wesley So with the Grand Chess Tour 2016 trophy
Leonard Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club

Last year was a historic one year for chess. Magnus Carlsen defended his World Championship title in a tense showdown against Russian challenger, Sergey Karjakin. The USA won its first Olympiad Gold medal in 40 years. Fabiano Caruana and Nazi Paikidze each won their very first U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship respectively. While it's hard to say what 2017 will bring, there are many exciting and prestigious events to look forward to. Mark your calendars now for some of the most highly anticipated events of the year.

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