Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” during the noon hour on Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

While “the cyclical nature of generational denigration is embedded in our history,” generational labels like “Baby Boomer” and “Millennial” are artificial and wrong, says St. Louis University associate professor Cort Rudolph.

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

As the end of the year approaches, our partners at Sauce Magazine will join St. Louis on the Air to reflect on the best new local restaurants serving up deliciousness in 2019.

On Monday’s program, host Sarah Fenske will talk with the magazine’s managing editors Catherine Klene and Heather Hughes and art director Meera Nagarajan about their selections —  from fine dining featuring various eclectic offerings to classic diners. 

The panel will also discuss their personal favorite dishes and highly anticipated restaurants opening in the new year.

Missouri Historical Society

The Mississippi River has been integral to life in the St. Louis region for hundreds of years — from Native Americans who occupied areas in and around Cahokia Mounds to the later arrival of Europeans.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Andrew Wanko, public historian for the Missouri Historical Society and author of the new book, “Great River City: How the Mississippi Shaped St. Louis.” 

From left, James Croft and Martin Casas joined Thursday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As another "Star Wars" movie speeds toward the galaxy this month, fans are eagerly anticipating its arrival — while non-fans may be yawning over the premiere of yet one more big-budget action flick. But regardless of one’s feelings about "Star Wars," Marvel or other modern myths that dominate pop culture, self-described “superfan but also a critical fan” James Croft argues that these persistent hero narratives overlap with the real world in powerful ways.

“We can learn so much about ourselves and about our culture,” Croft has said, “by exploring how heroism is portrayed in movies like ‘Star Wars’ – including how notions of what heroism is, and who can be considered a hero, have developed over time.”

As the outreach director for the Ethical Society of St. Louis, Croft plans to dig into this topic at a free event Thursday evening at the society. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined Sarah Fenske in studio alongside Martin Casas, owner of Apotheosis Comics & Lounge, which is sponsoring the hero-focused event.

McCluer North student Mya Davis describes her photo at St. Louis Public Radio's Photojournalism Prize awards ceremony.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Radio digital team crafted its first Photojournalism Prize photography contest last month. The competition provided professional publicity, encouragement and training to St. Louis-area high school students interested in journalistic photography.

This year’s theme was “Window to my World,” and participants were required to tell a story with a caption, image and personal reflection. The six prize categories were: Best Portrait, Best Landscape, Best Still Life, Best Action Shot, Best Caption and Best in Show. All winners received a master class with station photojournalists and publication on stlpublicradio.org.

The closing ceremony for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour, Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz tournament in Kolkata, India.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The Grand Chess Tour wrapped up the final leg of its 2019 regular season with the Tata Steel Chess Rapid & Blitz held Nov. 22-26 in Kolkata, India. This was the strongest tournament of its kind to be held on Indian soil.

Courtesy of the High Low

A newly renovated building is now open in Grand Center. It’s called the High Low. And like many other buildings in Grand Center, it’s focused on the arts.

But unlike many of the others, it’s not a theater or a performance space. Instead, it calls itself a “venue for freedom of expression through spoken and written word.” In other words, it aims to be a literary hub for a city that’s long had an outsized impact on the world of letters.

Like many newer developments in Grand Center, the High Low is a project of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, foundation executive director Chris Hansen explained the impetus for what he describes as a “labor of love.”  

Beginning of the Ominmax screen removal.
St. Louis Science Center

The Omnimax Theater at the St. Louis Science Center reopened last week after a $3.5 million renovation.

Chief among the changes is a switch from film to digital projection. While most theaters have made that transition, the complexities of the Imax format on a domed screen presented challenges.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Jackie Mollet, managing director of visitor services at the St. Louis Science Center. She oversees the operations of the Omnimax Theater.

Courtesy of Webster University

By the mid-1960s, Conrad Hilton’s brief marriage to Zsa Zsa Gabor was decades behind him. The hotel magnate was worth an estimated $100 million, but he tended to be tightfisted with both his ex-wives and his children. 

So how did a pair of St. Louis nuns persuade Hilton to give them more than $1.5 million — $12.6 million in today’s dollars? As Webster University professor emeritus Allen Carl Larson discovered, it took three years of correspondence, a shared faith and a deep mutual respect. And, yes, quite a bit of cajoling. 

“You are a first-class saleslady,” Hilton wrote Sister Francetta Barberis, president of what was then Webster College, in 1961. Indeed she was, as their letters charmingly attest.  

Wynton Marsalis, seen near the right of the frame, wrote "Swing Symphony" and recorded it in a collaboration between St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra. [12/3/19]
Frank Stewart | Jazz at Lincoln Center

Wynton Marsalis has championed traditional jazz for decades, working many of its styles into the big-band format. 

In 1997, the acclaimed trumpeter, composer and bandleader became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music, for his oratorio “Blood on the Fields.”

He’s also written three symphonies. His latest, “Swing Symphony,” was recorded at Powell Hall in 2016 and released in July. The performance was a collaboration between St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, then led by David Robertson, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which Marsalis founded.

Marsalis and his ensemble return to Powell Hall on Wednesday for a concert featuring Christmas music arranged for big band. 

November 22, 2019 Mo Rocca Sarah Fenske
Kara Smith/St. Louis County Library

Maybe you know him from “The Daily Show.” Or maybe "CBS Sunday Morning.” Perhaps you saw him on Broadway (in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) or heard him on NPR (for “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me”). Or maybe you just read his first book, “All the President’s Pets.”

As that long roster of possibilities suggests, Mo Rocca has become a one-man “Jeopardy” category. (And, yes, he’s been on “Jeopardy” — the 2015 celebrity version.) And his new book, “Mobituaries,” has a similar polymathic quality. In it, he celebrates people, places and even things that have been unfairly forgotten or whose deaths didn’t receive the outpouring you might have expected: movie stars, movements, even the humble station wagon. In both the book and the successful podcast of the same name, Rocca aims to right the wrongs. 

Elsie McGrath is an unlikely renegade.

For much of her life, the 81-year-old tried to avoid confrontation and follow the rules.

But that changed in 2007, when she became an ordained priest — and in doing so, broke one of the most fundamental rules in Roman Catholicism.

"This was definitely not part of the plan," McGrath said, of her ordination. "This was what the spirit within me was leading me to."

She was excommunicated along with fellow priest Rose Marie Hudson and Bishop Patricia Fresen, who ordained the two at a synagogue in St. Louis.

Jeffrey Noonan and Maryse Carlin help keep the spirit of early music alive in and around St. Louis. [11/30/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

When some music lovers cue up the oldies, they go way back — sometimes 1,000 years or so. 

Definitions vary as to what exactly counts as early music, but the wide-ranging category goes back at least to the beginning of European music notation, around the 10th century. Early music ensembles may perform music from the medieval era, the Renaissance, the Baroque period, and even some written as late as the 19th century.

In this episode of Cut & Paste, we talk with two experts who help keep early music alive in and around St. Louis. 

On Chess: St. Louis Chess Campus Hosts Gala To Advance The Game

Nov 27, 2019
Fabiano Caruana, Eric Rosen and Denes Boros play chess during the cocktail hour at the 2018 Strategy Across the Board gala.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

Over the past decade, I think it’s safe to say that the St. Louis Chess Club and World Chess Hall of Fame have made an impact on the St. Louis region.

For starters, the Chess Club’s Scholastic Chess Initiative has served over 60,000 students. 

Michael Turley is the fourth generation to operate his family's dairy farm.
Virginia Harold | Sauce Magazine

Michael Turley wasn’t always a farmer. In fact, before he started managing the 120 Holstein cows on his family’s dairy farm in Greenville, Illinois, he was managing workers at the St. Louis communications and marketing firm Osborn Barr as its CEO.

Turley joined Tuesday’s  St. Louis on the Air, along with Sauce managing editor Catherine Klene, to talk about his journey for this month’s Sound Bites segment. They also discussed innovation in the farming industry and how farms are adapting their business plans to stay relevant to consumers. 

Jill Stratton of Washington University researches the psychology of young adulthood and part of her mission is to help students be happier and successful. Here, she poses with Joy and Sadness from the 2015 movie 'Inside Out.' | 11-26-2019
Lara Hamdan

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to reflect and share the things for which we are grateful.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Jill Stratton of Washington University in St. Louis. Stratton is known as the university’s “Dean of Joy,” though her official title is associate dean for undergraduate residential learning and special assistant to the provost.

Courtesy of Missouri Historical Society via Reedy Press

What does St. Louis’ Robison Park have in common with the Wild West Chimpanzee Show at the St. Louis Zoo? Both no longer exist — and both are depicted in a new book showing off historic photos from the Gateway City. 

The book, “Scenes of Historic Wonder,” offers context for more than 150 snapshots of a city far different from the one today. Scenes include an 1865 shipwreck, a 1931 World Series victory and the Roosevelt High School Ukulele Club, circa 1935.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, author Cameron Collins joined us to discuss the book, co-authored by Jaime Bourassa and published by Reedy Press. This is Collins’ third book of local history, and he said that while the original idea for this one was a book of funny photos, he and his co-author labored to include the good, the bad and ugly.  

Congregation Temple Israel

Congregation Temple Israel is hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday. For more than three decades, the synagogue has served Thanksgiving dinner to those in need.

The tradition stems from an act of kindness. Ernest Wolf, a non-Jewish German national, was a student at Washington University in 1935 when he received a letter from the German military to report for duty. Wolf didn’t want to return to Germany, because the Nazi Party was rising to promenience.

Wolf planned to seek asylum in Mexico, but he didn’t have the money to get there. 

Sukanya Mani prepares her installation at the Kranzberg Arts Center on Nov. 21, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Artists and scientists can often use different lenses to look at the world. 

But Sukanya Mani freely taps into her training in the sciences to inform her work as an artist. She folds and cuts paper into intricate patterns, often crafting abstract designs to represent scientific concepts. 

Much of her work is inspired by science — the way gravity bends light, or the patterns caused by protons when they smash against each other at high velocity.

Karissa Hsu wrote the story "The Inheritance of Hope" about her grandmother's journey to America after fleeing conflict in East Asia during WWII. She is pictured here with her father, Leo Hsu.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Since 2005, the Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration has encouraged young people to discover, write and share stories about their family history. 

Monday on St. Louis on the Air, Sarah Fenske talked with Grannie Annie board member Martha Stegmaier, as well as Karissa Hsu, who wrote a story about her grandmother’s journey to America after fleeing conflict in East Asia during WWII. Her father Leo also joined the conversation.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 24, 2019 will be “Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins Compositions Plus New Music.”  The compositions of Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins will be presented in both the keys and strings hour and second hours of Jazz Unlimited with Joe Pass & Les McCann, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Bill Carrothers, our own Grant Green with Sonny Clark, our own Ken Kehner, Keith Jarrett, Tommy Flanagan, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Gene Harris, Branford Marsalis & Kurt Elling, Dizzy Gillespie Mal Waldron Richard “Groove” Holmes with our o

(L-R) Ajay Jhamb, Pooja Ganesh and Taine Dry joined Friday's "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about their passion for the cricket sport.
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

From afar, cricket might look like a slightly tweaked version of baseball. After all, there are hardballs, bats and bases involved. But the intricacies of the game distinguish the sport from America’s pastime. 

Invented in England, the sport later spread throughout the world due to the British Empire’s cultural influence on its former colonies in places like Pakistan, Australia and India. And, thanks to the American Cricket Academy and Club, it’s absolutely thriving in the St. Louis region. 

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked to the academy’s founder and president, Ajay Jhamb, about what the sport is all about and how local kids can get involved. Joining the discussion were cricket players Taine Dry, 15, and Pooja Ganesh, 11. 

Dane Hotle (at left) and Syrhea Conaway joined Friday's "St. Louis on the Air" ahead of Chamber Project St. Louis' BEAUTY at CAM concert.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what about the ear? What defines what’s musically beautiful? The Chamber Project St. Louis is exploring the concept by digging beneath the surface and asking questions about what should be considered beautiful, who gets to decide and why it matters.

Waltz of the Magical Snow Forest scene in Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker."
Moscow Ballet

Moscow Ballet is a Russian ballet company that has toured the U.S. and Canada during the holiday season since 1993. This year marks the 27th annual North American tour of the ensemble’s "Great Russian Nutcracker," "Swan Lake," "Romeo and Juliet," and other classic Russian ballets. 

St. Louisans will get the chance to watch the ballet classics Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, and performing alongside the Russian-trained classical dancers will be local ballet students. 

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

Richmond Heights officials and residents will come together on Sunday to dedicate a plaque to a historic black neighborhood in the city, which has nearly disappeared.

At one time, the Hadley Township neighborhood was among just a few places African Americans could live within St. Louis County. It was founded in the early 1900s by the Evens and Howard Fire Brick Company as a way to attract and keep employees. 

Segregation in the city and county limited where African Americans could live. The lack of public transportation made it even harder to fill the positions. In an effort to solve the problem, Evens and Howard met with county officials to build homes for black families in Brentwood and Richmond Heights.

Hana Sharif took over as the artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in September.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

The new artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hana Sharif, makes her directorial debut at the Rep this December with an adaption of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Sarah Fenske spoke with Sharif about the production and her background.

Emilio Cordova (left) won the B Group of the Winter Chess Classic, and Jeffery Xiong won the A group. November 2019
Austin Fuller & Crystal Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

The St. Louis Chess Club has made it a tradition to organize four strong round-robin invitational events throughout the year — one for each season. The purpose of these events is to give the opportunity for talented American titled players to gain experience battling it out against players of similar or higher levels. They can improve their game while also potentially winning a prize fund of over $30,000 among the two events. The Winter Chess Classic was the final event, rounding out the quarterly strong series of 2019. It was, by far, one of the most exciting events this year, allowing for some records to be achieved over the board as well as during the live commentary show.

Sauce Magazine's Catherine Klene (at left) and Meera Nagarajan joined Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Each month, our partners at Sauce Magazine join us to hash out some of the top food and drink additions to the region. But 2019 has said its fair share of goodbyes to notable establishments in the St. Louis, from the tragic fire that shut down Goody Goody Diner to the closing of Piccione Pastry on the Delmar Loop after a seven-year run.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Sauce’s managing editor Catherine Klene and artistic director Meera Nagarajan joined the program to talk through some of the closings patrons miss most. 

The Alley Mill was built in 1894 next to Alley Spring in the Ozarks region. 
Kaitlyn McConnell

The Ozark region has modernized slowly over time, and that’s allowed for the preservation of its traditional culture. To help shed light on what the region has to offer, seventh-generation Ozarker Kaitlyn McConnell started the Ozarks Alive website, fueling her “night-and-weekend obsession” with learning about the places and people that make up the region she calls home. 

“It is true that most 20-somethings don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the historical significance of these hills,” she writes on her website. “Some might blame my love (or obsession, according to others) with this region on my blood. Seven generations of my ancestors have called the Ozarks home, and I’m proud of that connection.” Her posts showcase its history, its unique businesses and different profiles of people. 

After frequently being asked for suggestions of places to explore in the region, McConnell knew she had to use the wisdom she’s accumulated over the years to curate a book. She titled it “Passport to the Ozarks.” 

Musicans Kev Marcus (at left) and Wil B. make up hip-hop violin duo Black Violin. Their performance at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Nov. 17 was their final show of 2019.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Hip-hop violin duo Black Violin performed their final concert of the year last night at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Concertgoers danced and vibed to a setlist fused with what Black Violin crafts well — classical music and hip-hop.

Violinist Kevin Sylvester, also known as Kev Marcus, and violist Wilner Baptiste, also known as Wil B., make up the group. They released their new album “Take the Stairs” earlier this month. PBS described the pair as “two former high school orchestra nerds who use their love of Bach and Beethoven to reimagine classical music and connect with new audiences.”

The classically trained musicians joined Sarah Fenkse on St. Louis on the Air alongside St. Louis artist Brandon McCadney, known as Mad Keys. McCadney is classically trained in violin and plays the piano. 

Pages