Out and About

A preview of the upcoming weekend's arts activities in Central Illinois with your host, Jenn Gordon of Arts Partners of Central Illinois.

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HFO Greets 2019 with a Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald

Jan 11, 2019

This week, David Commanday is with us to talk about the Heartland Festival Orchestra's first concert of 2019. "It's called New Year's Greeting - A Tribute to Ella." Like some of the HFO's earlier New Year's concerts, Commanday says this one incorporates the music of Broadway, and highlights the joy, spontaneity and personality of Ella Fitzgerald. He also talk about what he looks for in selecting soloists for a program like this, and about how this program in particular allows his to bring an improvisatory element to the concert.

This week, we're talking with Michael Ragan, about the "22VA Verterasns Art Exhibit." The exhibit features works of art by veterans; it's intended to give vets an opportunity to feature their work, and to raise awareness of the issue of veteran suicides. The show also includes works from veterans' family members, to show that families are affected, as well.

Ragan talks about the origins of the exhibit, and about the value that creative expression has for veterans, and his own attempt to "find beuaty in something dark."

This week, we're talking with Kelleen Nitsch, founder of Nitsch Theatre Arts. The program aims to make theatre experiences available to kids ranging in age from 5 to 18. Since its start in 2015, NTA has grown from 6 participants, to over 200.

Nitsch talks about the model that has enabled her to expand so quickly: NTA produces multiple productions of the same show, with a different cast in each of the communities they serve. Those productions share a set, costumes, and choreography -- and by sharing those resources, each company needs less rehearsal time.

Peoria Players Theatre Presents "Christmas One-Acts"

Dec 14, 2018

This week, we're talking with Bruce White, from Peoria Players Theatre. Their 100th anniversary season continues this weekend with "Christmas One-Acts."

This week, we're talking about the annual "Sing It Yourself Messiah" with conductor John Jost, and with Russ Boulton from First Federated Church in Peoria. As in past years, the organizers are providing the soloists and orchestra; the chorus will consist of the attendees.

Jost says that this weekend's performance is a slightly scaled-down version of the three-hour oratorio. Boulton talks about how the work is a perfect choice for performance in the church. The performance is aimed at encouraging potential first-time singers to participate.

This week, we're talking with Shelly Crespo, about the Community Festival of Nativities. A joint efort by three local churches, the event brings together 950 individual nativity scenes, from 47 different countries. One of the highlights of this year's festival is a nativity that includes 2000 pieces; Crespo says this is the first time all of them have been on display.

The event also includes a piece by guest artist Julia Fish Thompson. There's also a full schedule of musical performances -- including the Peoria Area Civic Chorale, church choirs, and high school madrigal singers.

This week, we're talking with the Peoria Riverfront Museum's Bill Conger, about four of their current exhibits. Those exhibits include a tour through the history of bronze sculptures; a private collection of Tiffany lamps; production art from the golden age of Disney animated movies; and a celebration of Peoria Players Theatre.

This week, our guest is Dr. Cory Ganschow, Director of Choral Activities at Bradley University. The Bradley Community Chorus and Bradley Symphony Orchestra will present a program that includes Mozart's Solemn Vespers and Lux Aeterna by American composer Morten Lauridsen.

This week, we're talking with Scott Kanoff, about Bradley University Theatre's production of "She Kills Monsters." The play tells the story of a young woman who delves into the world of the Dungeons & Dragons game in an attempt to better understand her late sister.

Eureka College Student Premieres New Play

Nov 2, 2018

This week, we're talking with Newt Holt. He's the author and director of the new play, "Imprimatur," which runs next weekend at Eureka College. Set during World War II, the play tells the story of two cartoonists who go to work in the Office of War Information, and discover unpleasant truths about their own country.

Holt talks about an earlier play, which he staged last year, and what he learned from that experience. He also talks about his dual roles as writer and director, and about the rewards of seeing his work brought to life by a company of actors.

Our guest this week is Jeff Craig, with the Caterpillar Employees Mixed Chorus. He's appearing as the Jester in  their production of the musical, "Once Upon a Mattress."

For 77 years, the Chorus has provided a musical outlet for CAT employees, retirees and dependants. In addition to a musical production each fall, the Chorus also has performances through the winter and spring.

This week, we're talking with guitarist Jason Vieaux and conductor David Commanday. The Heartland Festival Orchestra presents a concert this weekend called "Guitar Classic." Vieaux is the featured soloist in a performance of Joaquin Rodrigo's "Fantasy for a Gentlemen," and in a contemporary piece called "Six Sixteen."

This week, Nathan Irwin is talking with Doug and Eileen Leuning about Big Picture Peoria. Big Picture is an attempt to create more opportunities for artists in central Illinois. A Street Art Festival on Saturday will include multiple murals, live music, chalk art and a "paint fling." Later in the day, the Peoria Riverfront Museum is hosting the Big Picture Film Festival features short films by local filmmakers. Big Picture also spearheaded "Abraham Blue," an oversized mural depicting Abraham Lincoln. It's color is intended to call attention to Lincoln's struggles with depression.

This week, Nathan Irwin talks with Susan Hazzard. She’s directing “Steel Magnolias” at Peoria Players Theatre. The play centers on six women, the changes in their lives over a three-year span, and the bonds among them. Hazzard says she was drawn to the script for its portrayal of strong female characters, and the ways in which those characters develop and change over the course of the show. The Players production features a cast that includes some community theatre veterans, and a few newer performers.

Expanded Fine Art Fair Returns to Peoria Riverfront

Sep 28, 2018

This week, we're talking with Shannon Cox and Kim Sanders from the Peoria Art Guild's Fine Art Fair. This year, the Fair is starting early, beginning Fridat night at 6pm. As in past years, 130 artists will have works on display and for sale, and full schedules of entertainment and activites for children are planned. Cox and Sanders also talk about some of the demonstrations and hands-on activities that are available.

This week, Nathan Irwin talks with George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra; and with violinist Catherine Cho. The PSO opens its new season with a concert that includes the "Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra" by Max Bruch, a piece that incorporates Scottish folk songs. The program also includes the Seventh Symphony by Antonin Dvorak. Stelluto says that the composers represent a trend in the late Romantic era, to draw on the influences of traditional folk music.

Our guest this week is William Butler, Exectuive Director of the Contemporary Art Center. Their new exhibit features the work of Detroit artist Steve Prince. His work includes prints and drawings in black and white, often inpsired by historical and religious themes.

Tonight, Prince and CAC artist Preston will be collaborating on a drawing. Later this weekend, Prince will also offer a monoprint workshop on Saturday, and a gallery talk on Sunday.

The exhibit goes on display tonight, with an opening reception tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

This week, we're talking with David Commanday, conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra. Their 10th season begins next weekend, with a concert that features Brahms' First Symphony, and violinist Rachel Barton returns to perform Barhms' Violin Concerto.

Commanday talks about the history of each piece. He says the Violin Concerto pushed the limits of the instrument (and the soloists who play the piece). The First Symphony includes deliberate homages and callbacks to the symphonies of Beethoven

Our guest this week is Chip Joyce, talking about Peoria Players Theatre's upcoming production of "the Wizard of Oz," part of the theatre's 100th anniversary season. We've often talked with Joyce in his capacity as a director, but he says he's back on stage this time around because "Wizard of Oz" is one of his favorite musicals, and Scarecrow is a role he's always wanted to play.

Erin Feis Returns to Peoria Riverfront This Weekend

Aug 24, 2018

This week, we're talking about Erin Feis, the annual Peoria Irish festival, with Kate Kenny.

The festival offers an impressive lineup of music, with bands performing on three different stages throughout the weekend. Also on offer: The Highland Games, featuring traditional athletic contests like the Caber Toss and the Braemar Stone.

Kenny tells us about the planning that goes into scheduling the entertainment for the festival -- it usually starts a year ahead of time. She also reflects on how Erin Feis has grown over the years.

New Exhibits on Display at Wheels O' Time Museum

Aug 17, 2018

This week, we're talking with Marcia Johnson about the Wheels O' Time, located just off North Knoxville Avenue in Dunlap. Since our last conversation, the museum has opened a new exhibit -- the LeTourneau steel house. It's one of the few remaining examples of this pre-war attempt to manufacture standardized affordable housing. The effort to move the steel house to its new location involved a collaborative effort from several local organizations.

We're joined this week by Kelleen Nitsche and Joe Spanier, to talk about Ignite! Peoria. The annual event spotlights the range of artistic and creative opportunities in central Illinois. Along with booths for artists and performing groups, the event includes two stages with performances throughout the day; and creation stations, where attendees can engage in hands-on activities.

This week, we're talking with Alex Hunt and Ed Peck, from the cast of "Newsies" at Corn Stock Theatre. The musical is based on the real story of the 1899 Newsboys Strike in New York City. Hunt plays "Crutchie," one of the newsies, and Peck plays publisher Joseph Pulitzer. With a cast of more than 100, the show features dynamic, athletic choreography; the music of Alan Mencken; and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Pam Orear directs.

The regional premiere of "Newsies" runs from August 3rd to August 11th at the Corn Stock Tent, in Peoria's Upper Bradley Park.

This week, Jenn Gordon talks with Rebecca Shulman Herz, with the Peoria Playhouse Children's Museum; and with artist Reenie Charriere. Charriere is the artist in residence at the Playhouse. During her residency, she'll be creating a work of art called "Magic Carpet" in collaboration with members of the community.

This week, we're talking with Debra Mielke of the Illinois Art League, about their annual membership show, which is on display at the Time Gallery in East Peoria.

The exhibit features over 100 pieces, submitted by 57 different League members. Awards will be presented at an opening reception, Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon.

We're talking with Bill Conger, with the Peoria Riverfront Museum, about their new exhibit, "Mythic Creature: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids."

The exhibit looks at how these creatures have been depicted in popular culture, and includes examples of the real-world animals who inspired the legends. Conger says it's designed to appeal to both children and adults, and is an excellent fit for the summer, when families have more free time. The museum is also hosting other events in conjunction with this exhibit -- including an art contest, and a Kids' Night event on July 14th.

"Unseen Voices" on Display at the Foster Gallery

Jun 29, 2018

Blair Clark and Sarah Nesbit are with us this week to talk about the exhibit, "Unseen Voices." Currently on display at the Foster Gallery for Christianity and the Fine Arts, the exhibit is an attempt to help new and emerging artists in Central Illinois gain exposure, and prepare them to submit to other exhibits and galleries in the future. It's a collaboration with the Emerging Artists Collective, and it follows in the footsteps of a similar exhibit in 2016.

Corn Stock Theatre Presents "Boeing Boeing"

Jun 22, 2018

This week, Nathan Irwin talks with director Jake Van Hoorn about Corn Stock Theatre's production of "Boeing Boeing." Set in Paris in the 1960s, the play tells the story of Bernard, who juggles his relationships with three different women -- all flight attendants. Van Hoorn talks about what drew him to the script, and about what has surprised and inspired him as a first-time director.

"Boeing Boeing" opens tonight, and continues through June 30th, at the Corn Stock Tent, in Upper Bradley Park in Peoria.

This week, we're talking about the premiere of "Ruth: The Musical" with composer David Getz, and Courtney Huffman, who sings the role of Ruth. As Getz explains, the work has been seven years in the making; a crucial turning point came last year when he performed in a musical for the first time. The musical tells the Biblical story. Getz and Huffman say it's a story of emotional contrasts that lends itself well to a musical treatment.

"Ruth: The Musical" will debut Saturday night at 7:00 at Grace Church in Morton.

Our guest this week is Bruce White, talking with us about the "Show Tunes Sing-Along" this weekend at Peoria Players Theatre. He says the theatre was looking for a unique experience to offer in the run-up to it's 100th season; the result was this event, which encourages audience members to join in singing favorite show tunes from favorite musicals. A cast of familiar veterans will lead the performance, and lyrics will be projected on a screen, so the audience can follow along. Songs are arranged thematically, and shows coming up in the theatre's upcoming season are highlighted.

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