Live and Local
The Piper’s Hut Concert Series, which brings primarily traditional, acoustic Celtic music to the Champaign-Urbana area, will open its 2014 offerings with a concert by singer and flutist Nuala Kennedy. Growing up in a musical area of Ireland with historical links to Scotland, she developed a passion for the traditional music and languages of both countries. She’ll play in Urbana Monday night and play for us live on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
It’s not every jazz pianist—or every musician, for that matter—who can say he has multiple degrees in math, physics and technology. But Vijay Iyer is more than an extraordinary pianist. He’s also a composer, record producer and writer on topics musical and scientific, a MacArthur Fellow and, as of this year, an endowed professor at Harvard. Vijay Iyer has brought his trio to Urbana for three performances this week, and he’ll join us live on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.”
Percussionist Joseph Gramley has performed with major ensembles and artists in both classical and popular music. He’s also a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, which plays music from around the world. Gramley will play a concerto by Chinese composer Chen Yi with the Illinois Symphony this weekend, and he’ll be my guest on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also hear about Friday night’s concert in Champaign by The Prairie Ensemble.
The University of Illinois band program has a rich history and remains the largest college band program in the country. American music figures enormously in the band literature, and on Thursday evening the UI Wind Symphony will play a concert called “American Icons.” I’ll welcome the conductors of the concert to the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also hear a preview of the annual “All Out A Cappella” show at Unity High School in Tolono.
The Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel is making its first tour of the United States, including a stop in Urbana on Saturday. Their soloist will be the young pianist Roman Rabinovich, who happens also to be a gifted painter. We’ll talk about music and art on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.” We'll also hear a live preview of Wednesday's recital in Urbana by University of Illinois faculty violist Rudolf Haken.
I first heard of the wonderful South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo the same way most Americans did, through Paul Simon’s Graceland album. Shortly after that record, they won the first of four Grammy awards, and their latest CD, Always With Us, was released just last month. They’re currently touring the United States and will sing in Charleston on Wednesday. I’ll talk with one of their founding members on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
February 14 is, of course, Valentine’s Day, and there will be plenty of romantic music played throughout our area. Much Russian music has come to be associated with love and romance, and Sinfonia da Camera will play a concert called “From Russia With Love” in Urbana. I’ll welcome their soloist, violinist Andres Cardenes, to the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also have a live preview of a multi-genre concert at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Urbana.
Kim and Reggie Harris are an African-American duo who perform traditional spirituals and freedom songs with original folk music. They also give educational performances about Black History, the Underground Railroad and other topics. Kim and Reggie Harris are performing in Urbana this week, and they’ll join us live on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also hear a live preview of Champaign Central High School’s upcoming production of the musical Shrek.
If you're a fan of the radio program A Prairie Home Companion, and you have a really good memory, you might recall an old-time string band called The Freight Hoppers, who won the "Talent From Towns Under 2000" contest back in 1996. They got their start through a daily gig at the Great Smoky Mountains Railway, and they're going strong twenty-some years later. The Freight Hoppers will play a stage show and square dance in Urbana Wednesday, and they'll play for us live on the Wednesday edition of "Live and Local."
The woman born Freda Josephine McDonald became known to audiences worldwide as Josephine Baker, the American-born French dancer, singer, actress and civil rights advocate. There’s a new picture book about Baker, with text by local children’s book author Patricia Hruby Powell. We’ll visit on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.” And we’ll have a live preview of Wait Until Dark, the current production at Parkland Theater in Champaign.
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