Johann Sebastian Bach died on July 28, 1750. That doesn’t make this Sunday any special anniversary, but it does give the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana—acronym of BACH—a good excuse for a summer concert by their chorus, of mostly non-baroque music. I’ll chat with music director Chester Alwes on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.” And we’ll hear about this weekend’s youth theatre performances, The Return of Halley's Comet, at Danville Light Opera.
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“Summer stock theater” is a term I’d heard a lot without knowing entirely what it meant. The “summer” and “theater” parts I got, but the “stock”—not so much. (It apparently has to do with the use of stock scenery, costumes and, more or less, actors.) The Little Theatre in Sullivan does summer stock wonderfully, and they’re currently producing The Will Rogers Follies, through July 28. We’ll hear some live highlights on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
The Illinois Chamber Music Festival at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington began on July 14 and will continue through August 2. Now in its eleventh season, the festival offers daily coaching, rehearsals and master classes to students in high school and college, as well as free public concerts by students and faculty. I’ll talk with members of the faculty, and we’ll hear highlights from their first two concerts on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.”
Creative Dramatics Workshop is a training theatre for young people, based in Sidney. Some of its best developing actors and alumni will present Anton Chekhov’s classic Three Sisters for six performances beginning July 19. We’ll have a live preview on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” And we’ll feature Hawaiian slack key guitarist Alfonso Valdes, one of many performers featured at this week’s Friday Night Live in downtown Champaign.
The Urbana Park District Youth Summer Theatre will present the award-winning Broadway classic The Music Man July 25th through the 28th. With a nostalgic score of rousing marches, barbershop quartets and sentimental ballads, the musical has become virtually an American institution. We’ll hear a live preview on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.” And we’ll hear Sylvia Liu’s Champaign Cello Choir in advance of their upcoming recital.
The Marriage of Figaro is a comic opera by Mozart, based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais. It’s this year’s full production by the Midwest Institute of Opera in Normal, whose mission is to offer young artists the chance to perform complete operatic roles in their original language under the guidance of professional opera staff. Performances will take place July 28th and 30th, and we’ll have an advance live preview on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
Spuyten Duyvil—which literally means “spouting devil”—is the name of the creek that separates Manhattan from the Bronx. It’s also the name of a rockin’ roots band from the Hudson Valley who mash up the blues, old time, gospel, jug band music and more to create their unique sound. They’ll play in Champaign Friday night, and they’ll play for us live on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also hear live music from talented students at the Illinois Summer Youth Music program.
Frank Solivan is a hunter, fisherman, gourmet chef, singer, poet, songwriter—and a monster musician on mandolin, fiddle and guitar. He’s also leader of a four-piece band called Dirty Kitchen that plays what they call New Acoustic American Roots Music, focusing on bluegrass and acoustic country. They’re playing a show in Urbana Thursday night, and they’ll play for us live on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.”
One might feel justifiably suspicious of how musical artists describe themselves. But it’s worth repeating some of the self-promotion from the Monticello-based bluegrass band High Cotton: “high-lonesome sound, full of foggy bottoms and smoky mountain tops”; and “songs and instrumental material to zestify your day.” High Cotton will play in Urbana Wednesday and in Bement on Sunday, and they’ll play for us live on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.”
So someone points to your mountain dulcimer and says, “How long have you been playing that?” You look at your watch and answer, “About 45 minutes.” That joke digs at the relative ease with which one can learn to play the instrument known as the “hog fiddle,” but it hardly applies to North Carolina’s Don Pedi, who is something of a virtuoso. He’ll give a workshop and concert in Springfield next Monday, and I’ll talk with him on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.”