Touhill Performing Arts Center | St. Louis Public Radio

Touhill Performing Arts Center

Singer-songwriter Brian Owens joined Friday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The artistic path of Brian Owens has long charted both tribute territory and totally new ground, and Owens is known to navigate both well. The local singer-songwriter’s 2017 album “Soul of Cash” premiered via Rolling Stone, and that same year Owens released the song “For You,” showcasing the vocals of five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald alongside his own.

McDonald and Owens share a hometown — Ferguson, Missouri — and are collaborating musically again this Sunday during a benefit concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center celebrating McDonald’s legacy.

Owens joined St. Louis on the Air’s Sarah Fenske on Friday to discuss the event, which is billed as “A Night for Life” and also features “The Voice” contestant Kennedy Holmes. Owens also discussed his journey as a musician and community activist.

MADCO's Belicia Beck (at left) and Dance St. Louis' Christopher Mohnani joined Tuesday's talk show along with Bennyroyce Royon (not pictured).
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-day-long dance extravaganza gets underway later this week as Spring to Dance takes over the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Considered to be Dance St. Louis’ signature festival of the year, this 12th annual event will feature everything from tap, ballet and clogging to hip-hop and aerial performances Thursday through Saturday.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Sharon Stevens led a conversation about what makes Spring to Dance such a vibrant showcase of dance talent in St. Louis, across the country and beyond.

From left, host Don Marsh interviews Sonia Sotomayor at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.
August Jennewein | UMSL

From the Bronx in New York City to Yale Law School and now the nation’s capital, Sonia Sotomayor has made a name for herself despite the obstacles she’s encountered throughout her life.

“My life hasn’t been always easy, and yet I succeeded,” Sotomayor said in a conversation with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

Growing up in poverty, learning English as a second language and being diagnosed with diabetes as a child, as well as grieving the death of her father when she was 9, are just a few of those obstacles.

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.

'Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa the Musical' comes to Touhill

Sep 14, 2016
'Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa the Musical' dancers and singers held a pop up performance at UMSL's Millennium Student Center Monday.
Provided by UMSL campus photographer August Jennewein

When Niyi Coker considers Africa’s contributions to modern music, he can’t help but think of Miriam Makeba, the acclaimed South African singer and activist who introduced international audiences to the continent’s sounds.

It’s impossible to separate Makeba’s art from her activism, said Coker, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In a life that was heroic and tragic, the singer suffered three decades of forced exile from her homeland for challenging its racist policies and injustice.

When Makeba died in 2008, she left an incredible legacy, said Coker, a native Nigerian who wrote “Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa the Musical.” Its first performance in the United States takes place Thursday at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Famed choreographers Dianne McIntyre and Bebe Miller discussed their parts in Dance St. Louis' production of New Dance Horizons IV.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Dance St. Louis’ fourth installment of “New Dance Horizons” celebrates Black History Month. It will highlight the works of three nationally-renowned African-American choreographers inspired by those who came before them.

Miles Davis and Maya Angelou were two such artists with St. Louis ties that inspired choreographers Bebe Miller and Dianne McIntyre, respectively, as they created pieces that will be performed by St. Louis dancers this weekend.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Heather McGinley was born in St. Louis and graduated from O’Fallon Township High School in 2001. Now, she’s returned to the region with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, performing Oct. 2 and 3 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center as the 50th season opener for Dance St. Louis.

“I’ve been dancing professionally in New York for seven years,” said McGinley on Friday’s “Cityscape.” “This will be my first performance in St. Louis since beginning that career.”

George Davis, left; Eric Person, right
Alex Heuer

On June 19, for one night only, The Jazz Edge Big Band along with a special guest will pay tribute to St. Louis’ eight most influential saxophonists in their concert entitled “Tribute to St. Louis Saxophonists.”

Among those honored will be Oliver Nelson, Jimmy Forrest and David Sanborn.

On Friday, George Davis, co-founder of The Jazz Edge Big Band and board member of The Jazz Edge, Inc., and Eric Person, saxophonist, joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the event.

Brazilian dance troupe Compagnie Käfig
Agathe Poupeney / (Provided by Dance St. Louis)

Fans of dance in St. Louis are in for a treat this weekend, with National Dance Week - St. Louis taking over Grand Center and an exciting dance performance at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.  

Dance St. Louis presents Compagnie Käfig, a male Brazilian dance troupe that has been selling out performances on their U.S. tour and will perform at the Touhill this weekend.

Alla Voskoboynikova grew up in a small town in Russia near Moscow. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance before moving to St. Louis in 1996.

Since 2004, Voskoboynikova, the director of Keyboard Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has seen many of her former students go on to graduate school and successful careers as performers and teachers.

“This is probably the greatest reward for all the hours of hard work,” Voskoboynikova told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday.

Founded in 1992, the Arianna String Quartet (ASQ) moved from Michigan to St. Louis in 2000 and became the Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Initially the quartet split its concert schedule between the Ethical Society and the Sheldon Concert Hall but was concerned that the audiences were completely separate. But with the opening of UMSL’s Touhill Performing Arts Center in 2003, the quartet found a new home in the center’s Lee Theater.

Modern American Dance Company To Premiere 'Liquid Roads'

Mar 28, 2014
courtesy MADCO

On Friday, April 11 the Modern American Dance Company (MADCO) will premiere “Liquid Roads” at the Touhill. Choreographed by Gina Patterson to music directed by Brian Casserly, the 90 minute work is a celebration of St. Louis as a crossroads of music.

“St. Louis has a tradition of being a crossroads, with the river and also the railroads coming from east and west coming into St. Louis. And all of that brought people, and the people brought their music,” said Casserly.

'The Screwtape Letters' Returns To The Touhill

Dec 6, 2013
(Courtesy Fellowship of the Performing Arts)

A theatrical adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel The Screwtape Letters returns to the Touhill this weekend. When the play was first performed in St. Louis in 2010, director and co-author Max McLean performed the role of the demon Screwtape. The role is now performed by Brent Harris.

"He has a lot of experience playing evil characters," said McLean of Harris. "Macbeth, Iago, Scar from the Lion King."

When Paula David decided over Thanksgiving weekend of 2009 that she intended to start a contemporary dance company, she knew that she wanted to commission a work by her former colleague, Hubbard Street Dance’s founder Lou Conte, The ‘40s.  When he agreed, she set to work on incorporation and other logistics necessary to create a non-profit organization.

For the 34th year, the University of Missouri – St. Louis School of Professional and Continuing Studies presents a four-day festival highlighting the art of storytelling.  From May 1 – 4, six featured storytellers from across the nation join fifty storytellers from the St. Louis region to present more than one hundred events  in a host of locations including the Gateway Arch, the Missouri History Museum and numerous libraries, parks and bookstores in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.

Cory Weaver

In the late 1990’s Eastman School of Music students Gavin Chuck and Alan Pierson saw the need for a top notch ensemble to perform their compositions and other contemporary music.  They set to work and formed the student ensemble Ossia.  One of their more notable concerts was one in 1999 that featured music by Steve Reich which the composer attended. After the concert, Reich expressed to the group his desire for an American new music ensemble that would be equivalent to England’s London Sinfonietta or Germany’s Ensemble Modern.

From April 18th through 20th, the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival will bring some of the greatest names in professional jazz to the stage as well as provide training opportunities for some 800 students.  In its tenth year, the festival has grown to be one of the most significant festivals in the Midwest.  Founded in 2004 by the University of Missouri – St. Louis and the Touhill Performing Arts Center, the festival last year added a partnership with Jazz St. Louis.

Marianne Leach

When a symphony orchestra performs Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” it’s always something of a spectacle.  The stage is packed to the brim with a large orchestra including two pianos and celeste, vocal soloists, a chorus and children’s chorus.  But Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s vision of “Carmina Burana” employing 120 singers, 60 orchestral musicians and 40 dancers takes the work to new proportions. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 21, 2009 - More than half a century of jazz history was on vivid display Saturday (Sept 19) as tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins and his superb quintet played almost two hours of hard bop, calypso, blues and ballads for an adoring crowd of well more than 1,000. The rousing concert also benefited from the excellent acoustics of the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 3, 2009 - The 2009-10 schedule for the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center has been revealed and it's loaded with significant headliners. Sonny Rollins, Lily Tomlin, George Jones, The Chieftains and more promise quality performances and good audiences.

But the Touhill also partners with local groups that have a national and international reach. These tickets are generally less expensive, and they offer a wide variety of entertainment.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2009 - While drawing complaints of "unfair competition" from the Fox Theatre, the prospect of a city-backed reopening of Kiel Opera House gets a shoulder shrug from the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

As John B. Hylton, dean of UMSL's College of Fine Arts and Communication, says, "The Touhill is quite different from either the Fox or the Kiel."