Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

omplishments with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra include a 2014 Grammy Award for a performance of John Adams' "City Noir."
St. Louis Symphony

This weekend, St. Louisans will say goodbye to a maestro known for honoring the magnificence of classical music while also making it approachable for the everyday person.

After 13 years as music director, David Robertson will conduct his final concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon.

Angela da Silva discussed the many ways in which racism, segregation and prejudice showed up at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition that took place in St. Louis at the beginning of the 20th century.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s debate about some of the stories associated with the international event that had St. Louis buzzing more than a century ago, such as whether the 1904 World’s Fair was really the point at which ice cream and other treats were invented.

But one thing that historians do know for sure about the seven-month-long spectacle is that it was marked by blatant racism.

2018 U.S. Chess Champion, Sam Shankland, and the U.S. Women's Chess Champion, Nazi Paikidze.
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

The 2018 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Championships ended on April 30 in St. Louis. Outside of its obvious bearing, the tournament also signaled the 10-year anniversary of the Saint Louis Chess Club, which has attracted the best chess players in the United States and the world.

Audra McDonald
Autumn de Silva

When Audra McDonald reflects on the relentless pace of her years performing on Broadway and in many other venues over the course of her career, the sport of baseball comes to mind as a fitting comparison.

“Your entire day, every single day, is about [keeping] my body and my health in optimal shape so that I can do the show, because our bodies are our instruments,” the six-time Tony Award-winning singer and actress said on this week’s St. Louis on the Air.

Producer's note: Chamber Music Society of St. Louis executive director Marc Gordon announced on May 4 that Leonard Slatkin had to cancel his May 21 appearance due to unexpected heart bypass surgery. On May 8 Gordon reported the surgery was successful and Slatkin is expected to make a full recovery. However, since Slatkin is such an integral part of the Gala program, it has been postponed until the Fall when he can participate. Those who hold tickets for the original May 21 date are invited to a free concert. 

When Leonard Slatkin left his position as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1996, he still retained many ties to the city he had called home for more than two decades. In his role as conductor laureate he has returned regularly to conduct the symphony.

He also serves as a board member of the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, has appeared on several of its programs and has advised the organization on educational activities.

Stephanie Powell Watts is the author of "No One is Coming to Save Us," this year's choice in the One Book, One Kirkwood program.
Stephanie Powell Watts

Largely absent from the canon of American literature are the experiences of African-Americans who live in economically disadvantaged regions of the country and who experience the last effects of segregation.

In her 2017 novel, “No One is Coming to Save Us,” Stephanie Powell Watts focuses on an extended African-American family and sets her story in a rural North Carolina town that has seen its furniture manufacturing largely evaporate.

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, April 29, 2018 will be “Grammy Winners in My Collection-Part 4.”  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 ja

Rebecca Wanzo, co-organizer of Dwell in Other Futures: art/ urbanism/ midwest
Rebbeca Wanzo

National and local artists will explore the past, present and future of city life in an upcoming exhibition in St. Louis.

Organizers of Dwell in Other Futures: art/ urbanism/ midwest say the event will expose attendees to the ways urban development constructs and reinforces how people engage, or don’t, with public spaces and the people around them.

Some of the young men and women at Marygrove Children's Home participate in a  tutoring session. "Unheard Voices" features the stories of just the men who are aging out of the institution.
YourWords STL

Actors will tell the real-life stories of young men aging out of a children’s home in a staged reading on Saturday in Ferguson.

The free event at the Ferguson Youth Initiative, 106 Church St., draws on writing by young men who participated in a program of YourWords STL. The organization helps St. Louis youth express themselves, and work through trauma using the written word.

The presentation, “Unheard Voices: You Don’t Know My Story,” is comprised of poetry, lyrics and narratives by residents of the Marygrove Children’s Home in Florissant.  It highlights the human need to be heard, according to YourWords’ cofounder Anna Guzon, a former physician.

The Men's Story Project takes the stage with 14 meditations on masculinity

Apr 26, 2018
microphone
ante3 | sxc.hu

What does it mean to be a “real man?” Fourteen metro St. Louis men will share their perspectives on an auditorium stage as part of The Men’s Story Project.

The participants, ages 20 to 48, will use spoken word, monologues, poetry and storytelling to examine masculinity and expectations of manhood in a free event at Saint Louis University on April 28 and 29.

Organizers say most of the participants of The Men’s Story Project have never spoken publicly before. They include local artists and activists, students and professors.

This image combines two portraits by different artists in the Metro Trans Umbrella Group's "Transcending the Spectrum" art exhibition.
Metro Trans Umbrella Group

Over the past five years, the Metro Trans Umbrella Group art show has more than doubled in size. This year’s event at Koken Art Factory in south St. Louis on Saturday boasts 35 visual artists and 25 stage performers.

The exhibition has expanded as more transgender artists feel safe to show their creations, according to curator Alex Johnmeyer and artist Eric Schoolcraft. But, they noted, growing visibility also highlights the dangers of being seen. To address that, organizers put a safety team in place to escort attendees to and from their cars.

Chess joins the esport arena

Apr 26, 2018
Watching the PRO Chess League, an online rapid chess league, can be an intense experience.
Eric Rosen

Pressure is a major element in chess. Pressure to find the right move. Pressure to use your clock time wisely. Pressure to beat your opponent. Pressure to win the tournament.

The PRO Chess League, an online rapid chess league, has used these elements to provide a great viewing experience on its weekly Twitch.tv stream.

Taking a programming cue from the fantastically popular esports world, PRO Chess recently hosted its second finals in San Francisco with the top four teams — the Ljubljana Turtles, Chengdu Pandas, Armenian Eagles and Saint Louis Archbishops.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis once had a thriving hub for Chinese immigrants moving to the city. Historical records show in 1894 there were about 1,000 people of Chinese heritage living in St. Louis, many of whom had moved to the region from California in the middle part of the century.

A St. Louis Public Radio listener wanted to know how so many Chinese businesses came to exist at Olive Boulevard near Interstate 170 in University City. The listener also wanted to know why hasn’t there been more expansion of Asian businesses there. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 22, 2018 will be “New Music Plus A Tribute to Cecil Taylor.”  It will mark my 35th Anniversary of presenting jazz on St.

Gary Gackstatter (at left) composed "Symphony Chaco: A Journey of the Spirit." Choral director Jim Henry  (at right) and renowned Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai are helping him bring the piece to the Touhill stage next week.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Henry has yet to visit New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, the hallowed, high-desert landscape once home to ancestral Pueblo tribes. But the choral director has already fallen in love with the place, as have his music students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

That’s due to a new symphony inspired by Chaco from local composer Gary Gackstatter, who is a music professor at St. Louis Community College-Meramec. On Monday, April 23, about 200 singers and instrumentalists from UMSL and from STLCC will perform the symphony during a free concert at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

“When I [first] played this piece for my students, they just could not wait to get on the stage,” Henry told host Don Marsh this week on St. Louis on the Air.

Curious Louis question-asker Rachel Duncan, left, and St. Louis Public Radio reporter Shahla Farzan, center, speak with Bill Houston of the Saint Louis Zoo.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Duncan doesn’t remember the first time she visted the St. Louis Zoo, but she’s pretty sure she was an infant.

“There’s not a summer in my life that I have not come to visit the St. Louis Zoo and enjoyed what it has to offer,” said Duncan. “It’s a part of my entire life.”

Like many St. Louisans, she feels personally connected to the animals at the zoo. That prompted her to ask our Curious Louis reporting series: What happens when an animal passes away at the zoo? Do they have a funeral? And how does it impact the workers?


Hannibal native Melissa Scholes Young is the author of "Flood."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri native Melissa Scholes Young has fond memories of growing up in Hannibal.

“It is a welcome community, it is a place where I’m really proud to be from,” Young told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday. “It is what I still consider my hometown even though I left there when I was 17. I always return to my roots and I’m very aware of the way that being raised in a place with hardworking people ... how that has affected where I’ve gone in the world and the way I live my life.”

Carl Kasell throws out the first pitch on April 14, 2010, at Busch Stadium.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

In tribute to NPR’s Carl Kasell, who passed away earlier this week, Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air included a segment in remembrance of the longtime newscaster and much-beloved radio personality.

The broadcast featured portions of a 2006 conversation between Kasell and St. Louis Public Radio host Steve Potter. During the interview, Kasell reflected on his decades in the radio business and the growth of NPR since he first joined the organization in 1975.

Cuzin Grumpy's Pork Chop Revue is among the new acts featured in Circus Flora's 2018 season.
Circus Flora

For more than 30 years, Circus Flora, a one-ring circus that makes St. Louis its home, has offered a circus show that’s best described as live theater. It’s an intimate setting that is in stark contrast to the images some people might conjure of the large Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus which performed for the last time 10 months ago.

Two things are significantly different about this year’s Circus Flora season.

File photo: Esther, played by Jacqueline Thompson, and Mr. Marks, played by Jim Butz, examine a bolt of fine fabric in a scene that simmers with largely unspoken feelings.
Eric Woolsey

The emphasis is on the “new” for incoming New Jewish Theatre artistic director Edward Coffield.

In July, Coffield will take the reins from founder Kathleen Sitzer who launched the company 22 years ago.

Coffield plans to shake things up by including a family show every year, collaborating with other companies and working with themes that encompass issues well beyond the realm of Judaism.

After serving as Sitzer’s assistant for 16 years, Coffield acknowledges he’s building on the work of a St. Louis theater icon.

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