Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

The vocally challenging and fun-filled "La Fille du Regiment" by Donizetti will be taking the stage at Union Avenue Opera.  Then, starting Aug. 20, the atmosphere turns much darker with Tchaikovsky’s three-act tragedy “Pikovaya Dama.”

Daughter of the Regiment

Missouri's budget shortfall has been felt everywhere from schools to state agencies to social service programs. Arts groups across St. Louis haven't been spared, either. Many are adjusting to the new reality of decreasing financial support from the state at a time when resources remain tight.

Jose Espinosa steps into the tee box of Meadowbrook Country Club's driving range. Ahead of him lie hundreds of yards of grassy terrain spotted with multicolored flags and golf balls. Espinosa peers out onto the surface, looks down, grabs a ball from a nearby bucket, gently places it in the tee box and launches the ball an incredible distance.

Before the ball even hits the ground, Espinosa turns around and finds Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and former St. Louis Blue Bernie Federko and gives him a high-five.

Susan Cowsill and her band at a house concert.
Terry Perkins | For the St. Louis Beacon

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the music business continues to splinter and transmogrify in the face of continuing technical advances and resulting changes in the way consumers obtain music. Digital downloads -- legal and illegal -- have transformed the music industry from a business model ruled by major corporate conglomerates into a free-for-all environment that's increasingly unpredictable, volatile and independently focused.

Ready for your closeup? It's senior photo time

Jul 25, 2010

Summertime and the high-school seniors are posing. Cameras are clicking, and the interest is high.

This is the season when seniors prepare for their senior photo sessions. They're busy deciding which clothes and how many outfits to wear, what photos to get,  which hobbies to incorporate in the photos, how much money to spend -- and which photographer to use. 

Calling all kids, Legos invade Soulard Market

Jul 22, 2010
Moves in Minotaurus are determined by dice.
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Stop by Soulard Market on Saturday, and you'll see far more than just fruits and vegetables. Legos have come to Soulard.

Lego games. Lego sculptures. Lego trivia.

St. Louis is the fifth stop in a 10-week promotional tour showcasing 10 new board games by the Denmark-based Lego Group. In a small park in front of Soulard Market, Lego staffers set up larger-than-life versions of the board games and waited for fans to arrive on Friday, the first day of the event.

'Promises, Promises' gets the Stages treatment

Jul 21, 2010

Seven standing ovations later, the St. Louis Beacon got a chance to talk to Jack Lane, the executive producer and co-founder with Michael Hamilton of Stages St. Louis, about Stages' new show, "Promises, Promises." Lane, a native New Yorker and former actor co-founded the nonprofit Stages in 1987. Growing from a budget of $50,000 to a $3.5 million budget now, Stages has blossomed into a mainstay of the local theater scene.

’The Kids Are All Right’

The title of "The Kids are All Right," a very engaging, mostly comedic look at how traditional difficulties can afflict a thoroughly modern family, can be taken at least two ways.

Val Safron, who shared the stage with the likes of Tallulah Bankhead and whose acting credits included the 1990 Disney Channel movie, "Back to Hannibal: The Return of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn," died of pneumonia on July 13 at Mother of Good Counsel Home. She was 90 and had lived in University City and Richmond Heights for many years.

A memorial Mass for Mrs. Safron will be celebrated on Friday at St. Roch Catholic Church.

Casey McCausland sees his work on the Soldiers Memorial as a way of giving back.
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When Casey McCausland was in second grade, he was told to draw what he wanted to be when he grew up. While most of his classmates turned in pictures of rock stars, doctors and firemen, McCausland submitted a picture of a helicopter hovering over a battlefield. The picture was very vivid. McCausland had drawn bombs exploding and a helicopter struggling to stay in the air. Amid the chaos, a soldier dangled from a rope attached to the helicopter, coming to save the day.

The plants around the World War II statue reflect the colors of the flag. Soldiers memorial
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Casey McCausland and the Mission Continues aren't the only ones helping the Soldiers Memorial . With virtually no funding from the city or state, an army of volunteers -- not all military -- maintain and improve the memorial and its garden.

"We've had so many people involved," said master gardener Martha Conzelman.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: On Sept. 29, 1963 -- "Stan Musial Day" in St. Louis -- 27,576 fans rose to their feet as the 42-year-old Cardinals great was driven around the field seated on the back of a convertible. Team owner August "Gussie" Busch Jr. spoke on behalf of the loyal legions at Busch Stadium that Sunday afternoon and for the countless thousands watching the pre-game retirement ceremonies on live TV at home.

"We wish you could go on forever," Busch said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When two gangs of African-American girls began fighting in the halls of Kirkwood High School this spring, Robyn Jordan, Monica Gibbs and a group of their high-achieving African-American friends got fed up. They organized to combat racial stereotypes and visited middle schools to urge girls to avoid fights when they get to high school.

Jordan and Gibbs found themselves dealing with negative stereotypes among some teachers and other students even as they wrestle with what it takes for an African-American student to achieve in a predominantly white school in a predominantly white town where they feel as though they are expected to fail.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bernard "Bernie" Lipnick prepared well to become a rabbi, a role he actively served in for four decades at Congregation B'nai Amoona. But being a pulpit rabbi was never his goal.

"I became a rabbi - that was my title - but I didn't want to do rabbinic work," he told the St. Louis Jewish Light in 2008. "What I wanted to do was Jewish education."

A civil-rights bridge with Obama's visit

Mar 10, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Tonight Sister Antona Ebo will deliver the invocation at the fundraising dinner at which President Barack Obama will be guest of honor. Forty-Five years ago to the day, she was part of a group of St. Louisans who went to Selma, Ala., in reaction to "Bloody Sunday," three days before on March 7, 1965.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 1, 2010 - Another St. Louis native will become a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. At noon Rome time today, the pope named Monsignor Edward M. Rice a bishop. He will serve in St. Louis, replacing the retiring Bishop Robert Hermann.

Though Rice will serve as an auxiliary bishop and rank under Archbishop Robert Carlson, in January he will become a full bishop with powers to confirm, and ordain deacons and bishops. He will have a full vote at the meetings of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Kennedy Center awards have been handed out and the concert celebrating the gifts the award winners have given to America will be shown in a two-hour prime-time special at 8 p.m., Dec. 29 on CBS.

One of Sumner High School's gifts to the world will stand center stage with rock star Bruce Springsteen; actor Robert De Niro; comedian, writer and producer Mel Brooks; and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: During an interview with the Beacon last summer, noted civil rights lawyer Frankie Freeman said she was ready to wind down, take life easy after more than a half century of civil rights work and public and private appointments. But duty has called once again, and she couldn't say no. She seldom can when the issue involves education and city schools.

Elsie Roth shows off a book that describes her father's heroism during World War I, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Mary Delach Leonard | 2009 St. Louis Beacon photo

If you visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington this Veterans Day, chances are you will not see the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Army Sgt. William Shemin for heroism in France during World War I.

Shemin was awarded the medal -- the nation's second-highest military decoration -- for leaping from a trench into heavy machine gun and rifle fire to carry three wounded comrades to safety.

Vito Comporato, right, and another worker during the construction of the Gateway Arch.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives

On the morning of Oct. 28, 1965, ironworker Vito Comporato peered down from atop the Gateway Arch and watched what looked like hundreds of ants gathering on the riverfront 630 feet below.

There were Boy Scout ants with American flags and busloads of the city's schoolchildren ants.

The mayor ant was down there, too, probably with the rest of the VIP ants on a dignitary platform the size of a twig.

Bernar Venet, 2 Arcs x 4, 230.5 Degree Arc x 5. The pink sign on the recent photo The safety of children who come to Citygarden is the sole responsibility of their caregivers. Playing in or near or on sculpture is inherently dangerous.
Rachel Heidenry and Donna Korando

Philanthropist M. Peter Fischer didn't mince words at the St. Louis Award ceremony Thursday. Do the Gateway Mall right, he said, and keep the hands of commercial developers and politicians off it.

Fischer, who is the 82nd person to receive the award, is known for elusiveness rather than garrulousness. It was a surprise to many that he was willing not only to accept the St. Louis Award for his philanthropy but also that he was also going to receive it in a public ceremony.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 4, 2009 - In 1960, Atticus Finch. Jem and Scout helped fuel the Civil Rights Movement. Today the characters of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” promote another cause: literary reading.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 31, 2008 - The music business is known for screaming crowds in packed stadiums, million-selling records and extreme behavior. But for many of its practitioners, it's a very different matter -- hard work, small pay and a lot of driving.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 30, 2008 - "Pain don't hurt."

Such a quote doesn't make much sense on its face, but to the many fans of Patrick Swayze and his Roadhouse character, Dalton, it's elegant. It's on T-shirts, plastered on numerous websites and even in the online Urban Dictionary.

The Lens: Classics - officially

Dec 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 30, 2008 - The Library of Congress has announced the most recent additions to the National Film Registry ; and, as usual, there are plenty of well-deserved selections, although it's disconcerting to see that nearly half of the films on the list are younger than I am:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - Although "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" can be very funny and is at times filled with adventure, it is pervaded from beginning to end with an inescapable sense of melancholy, a feeling that springs from the unique arc of the central character's life.

On Science: The Santa hypothesis

Dec 24, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - Yesterday my daughter Caitlin arrived home from college for the Christmas holidays. She has learned there that she knows much more than her parents, but seems to be doing her best to hide this guilty knowledge from us. Looking at her now, a confident young woman, I cannot help but think -- as many fathers must -- of earlier Christmases. Years ago, I wrote of Christmas and Caitlin, and I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas this year than to rerun that column for you today, the day before Caitlin and I celebrate this year's Christmas. So, here it is:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - It's Christmas once again. Proponents of the holiday will tell you that it's a magical time of the year. Indeed, it is. Yuletide enthusiasts rarely mention, however, that all magic involves deception or that psychiatrists consider magical thinking to be a mild form of psychosis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 23, 2008 - If all the jingle jangle has you feeling a bit strangled with Christmas cheer, don't book that last minute ticket to an escape just yet. There's plenty to do on Christmas Eve, and a few things to do on Christmas Day, that will get you out of the house and away from the season.

Pearl Heart comes home for First Night

Dec 23, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 23, 2008 - St. Louis' country music sweethearts, Pearl Heart (formerly Me Too), are returning to their hometown to headline and perform their original material at 6:30 p.m. on the main stage of the city's largest alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration, First Night . This performance will be the group's second First Night appearance since 2004 and their first since being finalists on Nashville Star.