Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Tom Ridgely co-founded Waterwell theater company 15 years ago. The organization has developed and produced over a dozen world premieres and adaptations of classics. He began working with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in mid-May.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The new head of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is promising to put more women and minorities in leadership roles within the organization.

Incoming executive producer Tom Ridgely comes to St. Louis from New York, where he founded and directed Waterwell Theater, a company focused on presenting new works — and was committed to diversity — Ridgely said.

(L-R) Nisar Syed-Power, Mojda Sidiqi and Faizan Syed talked about their observation of the holy month of Ramadan.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For the month of Ramadan, Muslims in St. Louis and across the world are counting down the days left of the holy month marked by daily fasting, increased religious observance and self-reflection.

But also added in the practice is refraining from smoking, bad behavior, such as cursing, gossiping or fighting, and impure thoughts. It’s a time for people to reflect on their habits and rekindle a practicing relationship with God, as well as build self-discipline.

An instructor teaches chess at the Gateway Middle School.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

As a chess coach and active player, I am constantly thinking about the ways that I can help my students and myself to improve our chess skills using both contemporary (let us call it post-engine era) material and earlier classical (where ideas and concepts were more important than concrete, move-by-move calculation and use of pre-existing knowledge).

Mark Overton's extensive collection of rare and historically significant instruments sits on the second floor of his Cherokee Street music shop.  5/25/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

If you walk into the Saxquest music store on Cherokee Street, you’ll probably want to pick up a saxophone, even if you don’t know how to play. The front room is full of them. The walls are plastered with images of jazz greats, like Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins.

The folks at the store specialize in restoring and selling vintage instruments, but the biggest attraction is upstairs, where the inventory is definitely not for sale. That’s where owner Mark Overton displays his remarkable collection of saxophones.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis' upcoming production of "Regina" will feature (from left) James Morris, Susanna Phillips and Susan Graham.
Opera Theatre of St. Louis

In 1988 mezzo-soprano Susan Graham sang her first leading role in Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ production of Barber’s “Vanessa.” Thirty years later, she returns to sing the title role of Regina Giddens in Marc Blitzstein’s “Regina.” This second production in OTSL’s 43rd festival season opens May 26.

Elena Araoz and Tom Ridgely joined host Don Marsh to talk about this year's Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The tragedy of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet is a timeless tale and one of English playwright William Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is bringing the classic play back to Forest Park June 1 to 24.

Stilwell, Kansas, is an unlikely place to find a Muslim Quran reciter who has over a million followers each on both Instagram and Facebook.

But for now, that's where you can find Fatih Seferagic.

When Seferagic was just four years old, his family fled war-torn Bosnia. He eventually ended up in Houston, Texas, when he was 14 years old and that’s when he gained a following after putting his Quran recitations up on YouTube.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 20, 2018 will be “The Career of Buster Williams.”  The Penguin Guide called him, “one of the most important sidemen in jazz.”  Bassist Buster Williams has had a long career that started in 1960 and continues up to today.  He has played with Mary Lou Williams, Stanley Turrentine, the Gene Ammons-Sonny Stitt Quintet, Albert Dailey, Abdullah Ibrahim, Herbie Hancock, Helen Merrill & Gil Evans, Bobby Hutcherson, the Jazz Crusaders, Sharon Freeman and French horns, the Great Jazz Trio, Sarah Vaughan, Sphere, the Mary Lou Williams Collective, Geri Allen, McCoy T

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

In the aftermath of the media frenzy following his appearance at the 2016 presidential debate at Washington University, Ken Bone, a.k.a the “red sweater guy,” has managed to have more than his so-called 15 minutes of fame.

As an undecided voter, Bone asked candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump a question about energy policy, but it was his appearance and red sweater that caught the nation’s attention.

Ronald Jones greets a client's son at his funeral home 2161 E Fair Ave. (May 16, 2018)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up, there were three people in the community Ronald Jones says people respected: the preacher, the barkeeper and the undertaker.

 

After spending nearly every day in church as a child, Jones decided being a preacher wasn’t an option. Then there was the barkeeper, but Jones says he was turned off by the taste of rotgut whiskey.

Will DeWitt says his goal with this competition is to help "the next big sound" emerge from St. Louis.  5/18/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin

Does St. Louis have talent?

OK, it’s clear the answer to that is “yes.” But an upcoming competition offers a chance for local musicians who are trying to break into the music business to have their work heard by industry insiders and maybe even get that big break.

St. Louis Sound, a music competition modeled on TV shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” is headed for The Sheldon Concert Hall on June 7. Bands and solo artists are invited to submit one song for consideration, with 10 finalists taking the stage the night of the event to perform and receive critiques from a panel of judges.

Amy Sherald, "What’s precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American)," 2017.  5/15/18
Amy Sherald and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald built a reputation in the art world for painting highly stylized portraits of what you might call ordinary people. But she became a household name in wider circles this year for her portrait of a rather extraordinary subject: the first African-American First Lady of the United States. 

 

An exhibition of Sherald’s work is at Contemporary Art Museum, where it remains on view through Aug. 19.

Lona Luo, originally from rural China, joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh and Sauce Magazine’s Matt Sorrell for a conversation about the success of her restaurant, Lona’s Lil Eats.
Virginia Harold | Sauce Magazine

Two key ingredients make up Lona Luo’s philosophy at her popular Chinese eatery in St. Louis’ Fox Park neighborhood: great food and excellent service.

The Lona’s Lil Eats chef suspects that both had something to do with her being named a James Beard Award semifinalist earlier this year.

“That’s what they are looking for all the time, no matter what, no matter where,” Luo said of the recent recognition during a conversation this week on St. Louis on the Air.

SLIFF 2011: Day 7

May 14, 2018

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 16, 2011 - We Were Here, Directed by David Weissman, U.S. | 90 minutes, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17, Tivoli

In the early 1980s, AIDS transformed San Francisco's gay community from an lively oasis of acceptance to an ongoing death vigil.

St. Louis author Curtis Sittenfeld was a guest on St. Louis on the Air Monday. | May 14, 2018
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A few years ago as a guest on St. Louis on the Airauthor Benjamin Percy described Curtis Sittenfeld as “St. Louis’ literary warlord.”

Though she doesn’t proclaim command over the St. Louis region’s nearly 3 million residents or the authors who call it home, Sittenfeld’s residence here is a point of pride as is her authority over the English language in writing compelling stories. The bestselling author of five novels including “Prep,” “American Wife” and “Sisterland” has just released yet another book of fiction – and this one is a collection of short stories.

Five-year-old Honore Locker colors alongside Maxi Glamour after Drag Queen Story Hour at St. Louis Public Library's Central Branch.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of drag queens in bejeweled ball gowns and stiletto heels brought unexpected glamour to storytime on Mother's Day weekend.

A rambunctious crowd packed into the auditorium of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Branch on Saturday afternoon for Drag Queen Story Hour. The event, which aims to celebrate diversity and inclusion, drew more than 100 young children and their families.

Preview: Symphony offers Purcell, Berio, Bruckner

May 13, 2018

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov 17, 2011 - This weekend's St. Louis Symphony concerts come to the audience at Powell Hall much in the way three teens arrive for their first day of school: One approaches with slow, luxurious, ever-graceful steps, sporting classic attire born of privilege; but her stained checks and deep sorrowful eyes betray her confidence and offer a window into a world wrought with passion, rebellion and angst.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 13, 2018 will be “The Career of Billy Higgins.”  A drummer who played for musicians with widely divergent styles, an always smiling Billy Higgins lifted the bandstand for musicians as diverse as Stan Getz and Cal Tjader, Paul Horn, Thelonious Monk, Teddy Edwards, Milt Jackson, Lee Morgan, Pat Metheny, Abbey Lincoln, John Coltrane, Geoff Keezer, David Murray, Pat Martino, Junko Onishi, Bertha Hope, Ornette Coleman, Bobby Hutcherson, Mal Waldron, Charles Lloyd, Clifford Jordan, and Sun Ra during his 44-year performing career.

River Styx editor Jason Lee Brown (at left) and writer Adrian Todd Zuniga discussed the magazine’s 2018 Literary Feast on Friday’s show
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

River Styx, St. Louis’ oldest literary magazine, will release its 100th issue this summer. And while that’s a big milestone on its own, the 43-year-old organization has lots to celebrate even beyond the long existence of the biannual publication itself.

That’s according to River Styx’s new editor, Jason Lee Brown, who took the reins back in November.

Camp creator Michael Ford with a camper in May 2017.
The HipHop Architecture Camp

About 2 percent of architects in the U.S. are African-American. That’s a statistic Michael Ford wants to change by inspiring young people to think of new ways to solve urban development problems that segregate and marginalize low-income communities.

Ford wants to achieve this goal using  hip-hop music and culture. He created The Hip-Hop Architecture Camp in 2017.

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