Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

(Fab. 14, 2019) The Rep's artistic director Steve Woolf finishes off his 30-year-long career this month.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

For more than 30 years, Steven Woolf has been at the heart of the Repertory Theater of St. Louis. Since taking the helm as artistic director in 1986, Woolf oversaw three decades of productions and directed 47 shows.

That 47th show, however, will be his last as artistic director. Woolf is to retire at the end of The Rep’s 2018-2019 season, after directing the theater’s production of “Oslo” – which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2017.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Woolf joined host Don Marsh to reflect on his career, and to discuss the now-running production of “Oslo.”

Leinier Domínguez plays at the 2018 Champions Showdown at the St. Louis Chess Club.
Lennart Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club

The chess season has officially kicked off at the St. Louis Chess Club with the ongoing Cairns Cup, featuring some of the top female players in the world, and will continue on with another staple on the calendar, the Champions Showdown.

As a standalone event, the Showdown has historically been more experimental and geared toward the fans, having featured chess variants such as Fischer Random and Basque chess in previous editions.

Quincy Troupe joined host Don Marsh to talk about his friendship with and the work of jazz musician Miles Davis.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh remembered the late jazz great Miles Davis in a conversation with author and poet Quincy Troupe. Troupe is appearing this evening at St. Louis County Library Headquarters.

Troupe, who was born and raised in St. Louis, is the author of many books – including “Miles: The Biography” and “Miles and Me,” a memoir about Troupe and Davis’ friendship.

The segment included selections from Davis’ musical repertoire.

Erika Klotz is co-owner of the newly launched Selfie Room in downtown St. Louis.
The Selfie Room

The Selfie Room just made its debut in downtown St. Louis, offering the latest evidence of a seemingly ever-present selfie phenomenon. The museum’s mission is to “bring people together by taking photos with fun, whimsical backdrops” that comprise its interactive art exhibits.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Selfie Room co-owner Erica Klotz about what visitors can expect at the new entertainment destination – and also discussed the broader cultural landscape that surrounds it.

Amber Hinsley, an associate professor in the Department of Communication at St. Louis University, and Jennifer Siciliani, a University of Missouri-St. Louis psychology professor in the area of behavioral neuroscience, also participated in the conversation.

A life-sized exhibit of President Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet discussing the Emancipation Proclamation at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

As Illinois celebrates the 210th birthday of favorite son Abraham Lincoln, officials with the Springfield presidential museum created in his honor hope to keep important artifacts from being sold to the highest bidder.

But they’re running out of time.

The relics are part of the 1,400-item Taper Collection bought by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation in 2007. The private foundation, which supports the state-owned Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, took out a $23 million loan to buy the historical treasures.

The balance of the loan is due in October, and the foundation is still $9 million short.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, February 10, 2019 will be “The Music of Buck Clayton.”  Born in Parsons, Kansas, trumpeter Buck Clayton spent the first two years of his career in Shanghai.  In 1936, he joined Count Basie.  After Basie, Clayton was a major force in mainstream jazz as an instrumentalist, composer, arranger and bandleader, performing with Billie Holiday, the Kansas City Six, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Tate, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Sarah Vaughan and Vic Dickenson.  His compositions and arrangements will be played by Jimmy J

Elmwood opened up February in Maplewood. (provided by Sauce Magazine)
Meera Nagarajan

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked up some of the latest additions to the St. Louis region’s food-and-beverage community. Joining Marsh for the Hit List segment were Sauce Magazine managing editor Heather Hughes and staff writer Adam Rothbarth.

Following an extensive renovation, Jazz St. Louis's Ferring Jazz Bistro attracts international artists and offers local musicians a prestigious performing space. 2/8/19
Jazz St. Louis

A $350,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will help Jazz St. Louis spread the word about concerts at Ferring Jazz Bistro, its signature performance space in Grand Center.

Known for its good acoustics and sightlines following a renovation that began in 2014, the 250-seat venue attracts international artists and offers local musicians a prestigious performing space.

But it doesn’t yet have the international profile it deserves, said Gene Dobbs Bradford, president and CEO of Jazz St. Louis. Aiming to remedy that, the organization will use some of the grant money to purchase new equipment that will allow the club to stream concerts online.

Kayia Baker leads a piano class for beginners at Pianos for People on Cherokee Street.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s music in the air at Al Chappelle Community Center.

The St. Louis Housing Authority facility, which serves residents of the adjacent Clinton-Peabody housing complex, recently received a heavy delivery: a Kawai upright piano. The instrument is only about 13 years old and in excellent condition.

It was a donation, courtesy of Pianos For People.

The St. Louis-based nonprofit has distributed more than 250 pianos to private homes and public spaces since it began taking piano donations in December 2012.

James Rollins joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss his latest novel, "Crucible."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

“Crucible,” the latest release from best-selling author James Rollins, is billed as a book that wrestles with deep questions about the future of humanity – a subject Rollins himself finds particularly disconcerting.

“Doing the research [for the book] frightened me,” the St. Louis native told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “And as a novelist, that’s one way I get to sort of work through some of my fears – put it down on paper, try to make sense of it, try if I can to craft a happy ending, find some path through what’s coming next.”

As the thriller came together, Rollins interviewed about two dozen people whose research focuses on artificial intelligence, or AI – and the author says that many of those experts seemed frightened, too.

(Feb. 02, 2019) Jennifer Shahade, a two-time U.S. women's chess champion, commentator and analyst explained the excitement behind the 2019 Cairns Cup, an all-female chess tournament.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Chess Club is currently hosting its first international all-female chess tournament in an effort to expand opportunities for women to enter the male-dominated sport. Jennifer Shahade, a two-time U.S. women's chess champion, commentator and analyst explained the excitement behind the Cairns Cup tournament on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

“It's really a chance for the queens of the board to take center stage,” Shahade told St. Louis Public Radio editor Holly Edgell. “Things are getting better for women in chess all over the world. And I think this is just a sign of good things to come where women are really respected for not only their chess, but also for their point of view in the world.”

(February 06, 2019) (L-R) Kim Chamberlain, Marshall J. Phillips and Marvin-Alonzo Greer shared some experiences of African-Americans in the U.S. military on Wednesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about the contributions and enduring legacies of African-American doughboys who served in World War I. The topic will also be the subject of a panel discussion Sunday at the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum in downtown St. Louis.

Joining the Wednesday’s discussion were Marshall J. Phillips, a 100-year-old World War II veteran; Kim Chamberlain, a U.S. Air Force veteran; and Marvin-Alonzo Greer, the education and visitor experience lead for Soldiers Memorial Military Museum.

Phillips and Chamberlain, who will both play a role in the weekend event, shared some of their experiences in the military with Marsh and listeners – and also described how they overcame some of the challenges they faced.

Hip-hop artists pinkcaravan! (left) and Namesake (right).
Rodrigo Villordo

St. Louis-based rapper pinkcaravan! acquired her stage name from her first car: a Dodge Caravan gifted to her by her grandfather.

“Usually Caravans are looked at as ugly or something,” Jasmine Davidson explained in a conversation that aired during Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “When you paint it pink, it makes it pretty. That’s what I feel like my music does – paint dark situations in a happy tone.”

The “sad-happy” musical composition her stage name embodies is beginning to become her signature as she expands her reach in the underground hip-hop scene. Her frequent collaborator, Kansas City-based producer Darron Edwards, who goes by the stage name Namesake, aids her tremendously in achieving this sound.

A new public library that opened in Pacific, Missouri, a few months ago is one of a handful of freshly imagined Scenic Regional Library spaces – made possible through a $20 million bond-financed project – serving towns in eastern Missouri.
Jon McKee | JEMA

Want to check out a telescope – or maybe a fishing pole? To hear library director Steve Campbell tell it, the local library’s probably got you covered.

He’s confident there’s a library-related service or program for “any subject that you can think of that someone could have an interest in” these days, especially in smaller communities like the ones his Scenic Regional Library district serves in eastern Missouri.

The examples Campbell gives range from learning to clean fish and deer – yes, in the library – to programming involving escape rooms for teens and quilting for adults. But it’s not a variety show simply for the sake of variety – there’s a community-driven rationale to the wide-ranging activities.

Incoming music director Stéphane Denève will begin his first season at the helm of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. 2/5/19
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s first season under the artistic leadership of incoming music director Stéphane Denève will include two world premieres, a selection of French composers and artists, and a world-renowned artist-in-residence.

The orchestra announced its 2019-2020 season Tuesday. Denève was announced in 2017 as the orchestra’s next music director, following the departure of David Robertson at the end of last season.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site visitors can climb Monks Mound, which has more than 150 steps.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Assistant site manager Bill Iseminger stood at the base of 100-foot-high Monks Mound, bracing himself against an icy winter wind whipping across Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville. He was relating a story he’s told countless times: how the ancient Mississippians built the earthen mounds at Cahokia Mounds one basketful of dirt at a time.

Iseminger, 74, has worked at the site for 48 years and figures he’s climbed Monks Mound at least 1,000 times, though not as frequently in recent years.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 3, 2019, will be “Musicians Named Redman.”  We will present 88 years of jazz with saxophonists Don Redman, his nephew Dewey Redman and his great-nephew Joshua.  Don Redman, born in West Virginia was associated early with Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, the Chocolate Dandies, Cab Calloway and Count Basie as a saxophonist, arranger and composer.  Dewey was associated with Keith Jarrett, Old and New Dreams, the Liberation Music Orchestra and Ornette Coleman, as well as leading his own groups during his career.

When I think of Dance St. Louis, I think of the 50 year-old organization which has brought the finest dance in the world to St. Louis. The organization evolved into having excellent dance education programs and started concentrating on helping to grow the competency of local dance companies.

Now there are outstanding local dance companies some of which are respected on a national level. These companies present not only classical ballet and modern dance, but hip-hop and movement of all sorts.

(January 31, 2019) (L-R) Carol Daniel, Linda Lockhart and Eric Rothenbuhler discussed how the industry covers African-American communities on "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this month, local TV news anchor Kevin Steincross mispronounced the name of Martin Luther King Jr. with what some considered to be a racial slur. Steincross apologized for the slip up and has since stepped away from the anchor desk in order to “regain trust” in the community, he said during his on-air apology.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with local media professionals about how the industry covers African-American communities – what has changed over the years and what's stayed the same. The discussion began with addressing Steincross’ mispronunciation.

Syrhea Conoway, aka Syna So Pro, is a woman of many instruments. 1/31/19
Syrhea Conoway

Syrhea Conaway isn’t a DJ, and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis isn’t a dance club. Yet Conaway — in the guise guide of her solo project, Syna So Pro — is CAM’s new DJ-in-residence. That means she’ll perform a two-hour set at the museum for every First Friday event this year, beginning Feb. 1.

Cairns Cup contender Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazakhstan holds the titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster.
St. Louis Chess Club

It is well known that if you are a big chess fan, St. Louis is a great place to be. Since 2009, the best chess players in the country have gathered at the St. Louis Chess Club to fight for the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship titles.

From 2013 onward, the club has hosted the Sinquefield Cup, where the world’s best duke it out for the highest of stakes. The club runs countless tournaments every year, events suitable for everyone from amateurs to grandmasters. It also has worked hard to promote chess among women and girls, two often-underrepresented groups in the chess community. 

James Croft (at left), outreach director for the Ethical Society of St. Louis, and Leigh Schmidt, the Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Washington University, joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

With a growing sector of America having left traditional religion in recent decades, speculation about the reasons for that exit is common, as are easy conclusions about what it all portends.

“There’s so much cultural criticism aimed at the ‘nones’ – those who aren’t affiliated or those who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious,” Washington University’s Leigh Schmidt said Wednesday while talking with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

He added that fellow Americans frequently assume that the disaffiliated are, by definition, lacking in terms of morals or ethics, when “the stories that they have are far more complicated.”

(January 28, 2019) Rachel Miller (left) and Dan Reich (right) discussed how the younger generations will continue to tell the stories of those who experienced the Holocaust on "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Sunday marked the international community’s commemoration of lives lost and tragedy caused during the Holocaust. Although it took place more than 70 years ago, its lessons continue to resonate today.

“Those [lessons] are not bound by time,” Dan Reich, curator and director of education at the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center, told host Don Marsh on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Dakota Williams (at left) and Evy Swoboda, both in their 20s, have each made their mark on the St. Louis restaurant scene.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Twenty-four-year-old Dakota Williams has quickly worked his way up to a sought-after position – executive sous chef – at one of St. Louis’ top-notch restaurants. But the primary reason Williams gives for his choice of career isn’t all that sophisticated.

“I’m constantly hungry, so I knew when I was younger that I would have to find a job that I could eat at, because when I get angry it’s all because of hunger,” the Sardella standout told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh in a conversation that aired Monday. “And everybody knows that at work, so they just know to feed me.”

One of seven young professionals selected by Sauce magazine as this year’s “Ones to Watch,” Williams shared his journey from starting out at McDonald’s to working with celebrated restaurateur Gerard Craft. Fellow up-and-comer and Niche Food Group colleague Evy Swobody also joined the discussion, as did Sauce managing editor Heather Hughes.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for January 27, 2019 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour Plus New Music.”  The first hour will feature a number of great drummers playing in small groups without horns.  The groups will be the Herbie Nichols trio with Max Roach, the Red Mitchell cello quintet with Frank Butler, the Renee Rosnes trio with Lewis Nash, the Pat Metheny trio with Roy Haynes, the Dawn Clement Trio with Matt Wilson, the Modern Jazz Quartet with Kenny Clarke and the Hank Jones trio with Elvin Jones.  New music will be heard from Chris Jentsch, Kenny Werner, Angela Verbrugge, Jim Brenen, a Cha

The St. Louis Theater Circle released its 2019 award nominees on Friday's St. Louis on the Air for locally produced professional theater in 2018. This is the seventh year of the awards.

Judith Newmark, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s theater critic who writes at her blog, and Mark Bretz, president of the St. Louis Theater Circle who writes for Ladue News, joined host Don Marsh to discuss the nominations and the upcoming awards ceremony.

Grandmasters Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez face off at the 2017 Champions Showdown.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

Chess is one of the oldest sports in the world. Although it has a long, time-honored history, it, like all sports, is due for some change.

J. Samuel Davis plays Antoine in New Jewish Theatre's production of "District Merchants." 1/24/19
Eric Woolsey | New Jewish Theatre

In a heated conversation during the first act of “District Merchants,” a white immigrant tells a black man that he understands the other’s plight: “I know what is to be poor, hated and looked down on just because you’re, you know, you.”

The African-American points out that he lives with that stigma every day. White people see the word “thief” written on his face, he says. The immigrant replies: “Not everyone sees that!”

A version of this conversation could have been had in 16th-century Venice or post-Civil War Washington, D.C. — or a Twitter thread in 2019.

That’s part of the point of “District Merchants,” Aaron Posner’s 2016 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” A production by New Jewish Theatre begins performances Thursday.

Ken Page reprised his role as Old Deuteronomy in The Muny's 2010 production of "Cats," a role he originated the musical's 1982 Broadway debut.
The Muny

Ken Page, whose career took him from The Muny to Broadway and the big screen, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award Monday from the local Arts and Education Council.

Page is known for creating the character of Old Deuteronomy in the Broadway debut of the iconic musical “Cats” and as the voice of Oogie Boogie in Tim Burton’s film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

During a nearly 40-year career, the Fontbonne University graduate has played hundreds of roles in film and on stages in New York and St. Louis.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Tenor saxophonist “Zoot” Sims was known for his swinging style and innovative use of harmony in his solos.  He was best known for his associations with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and a quintet with fellow tenor saxophonist Al Cohn.  In addition we will hear him with Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Castro, the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, Jimmy Rushing, The Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band, Miles Davis & Thelonious Monk, Art Pepper, Carmen McRae, Stan Kenton, Jazz At the Philharmonic.  We will hear one of his compositions played by the Diva Orchestra.