Ninety Miles is the distance between Miami and Havana, Cuba. It's also the name of a musical documentary and a touring show celebrating the Caribbean roots that connect traditional Cuban music with jazz and New Orleans. The show comes to Urbana Saturday, and we'll hear from celebrated sax player David Sanchez on the Friday edition of Live and Local. I'll also talk with George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony, about their "Music of Kings" concert Friday night.
Live and Local
The Black Lillies are an Americana band from Knoxville, Tennessee, who create their own sound under the influence of country, blues, bluegrass, jazz and whatever else meets the ears of frontman Cruz Contreras. Though they've been around for only a few years, they're one of the few independent acts to play the Grand Ole Opry. The Black Lillies will play in Urbana Thursday night, and they'll give us a live preview on the Thursday edition of Live and Local.
Champaign Urbana Ballet's production of The Nutcracker has become one of those grand annual events, this year with numerous tweaks and refinements and a cast of 120. On the Wednesday edition of Live and Local, we'll hear what's new from artistic director Deanna Doty. I'll also talk with trumpeter Jeff Conner of Boston Brass, who will present the late, great Stan Kenton's arrangements of Christmas tunes in Springfield Sunday night.
It's not often that a new opera company springs up in any community, but in Champaign-Urbana, Opera Venezuela has done just that; though it's clear from their first performances that they intend to present more than opera. The women of the ensemble will put on a cabaret called Las Divas Wednesday night, and the full company will give Puccini's Gianni Schicchi on Sunday. We'll have a live preview of both shows on the Tuesday edition of Live and Local.
Decatur has a new choral ensemble in town, called Vocasphere. Comprising primarily Millikin University alumni, they preserve many of the cherished choral traditions, while introducing new choral sounds, including electro-acoustic remixes and "mash-ups" of historical choral music. Vocasphere gave its first concert in October and will invite the audience to join in the second, a Messiah sing-along happening Saturday. I'll talk with director Michael Engelhardt on the Monday edition of "Live and Local."
Millikin University will welcome the holiday season with its 54th annual Vespers celebration, called "Sweet Music in the Night," December 1st and 2nd in Decatur. Vespers means "evening prayers," but the event features all of Millikin's choirs in familiar carols, songs from past centuries and newer choral compositions with a full instrumental ensemble. I'll talk with Brad Holmes, director of choral activities at Millikin, on the Wednesday edition of Live and Local.
According to their Facebook page, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank is the primary food source for food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other programs working to feed the hungry in Eastern Illinois. The Iron Post bar in Urbana will host a fundraising event for the Foodbank Wednesday evening, with appearances by Almost "A" Quintet, the Traditional Jazz Orchestra and The Impalas. I'll welcome Patricia Hruby Powell to discuss the event on the Tuesday edition of "Live and Local."
Decatur Choral Society will present the choral ensemble OPUS 24 in its fall concert, entitled "This Shining Night," on November 27 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Decatur. Now in its 21st year, OPUS 24 has been directed for virtually all of its history by Milton Scott, who will join me on the Monday edition of "Live and Local."
The Carolina Chocolate Drops' brand of old-time, fiddle- and banjo-based music starts with material from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. They create fresh interpretations of 1920s- and 30s-style string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum and early jazz, recently incorporating more blues and folk balladry into their presentations. The Carolina Chocolate Drops will play in Urbana Wednesday night, and they'll join me on the Wednesday edition of Live and Local.
The Prairie Ensemble, an eclectic chamber orchestra based in Champaign-Urbana, will open its season on Friday with a concert that features American music, including a number of jazz standards. Soloists Chip McNeill and Chip Stephens of the University of Illinois jazz faculty will join me on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.”