Live and Local
The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois is considered one of the leading such centers in the country. Its annual offerings include major symphony orchestras, stellar instrumental and vocal soloists, prominent jazz artists, traditional musicians and dancers from around the world and ground-breaking multi-media presentations. Director Mike Ross will share details of the Krannert Center’s 2014-2015 season on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.”
Henry Purcell's masterful opera Dido and Aeneas of 1689 adapts the story from Virgil's Aeneid about the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for Aeneas, hero of the Trojan War. Complete with dancing, sorcery and historical allegory, the opera will be staged by the Baroque Artists of Champaign Urbana Sunday night. I'll talk with music director Chester Alwes and stage director Philip Johnston on the Monday edition of "Live and Local." [IMPORTANT NOTE: Since this program aired, the location of the performance has been MOVED to The Greal Hall of the Wesley Foundation at 1203 W. Green St. in Urbana. It will NOT take place at the Round Barn on St. Mary's Rd.]
Paddy Keenan is generally considered today’s most accomplished player of the uilleann pipes—the small Irish bagpipes. A driving force within the ground-breaking Bothy Band of the 1970s, he has since led a solo career, with various collaborations, film projects and recordings. Paddy Keenan will play in Champaign Friday night, and he’ll play for us live on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also hear about a Roots Walk happening in Urbana before Paddy’s show.
Bells in Motion is a professional handbell choir based in Springfield, with members from various points in the Midwest. They specialize in music by the likes of Gershwin, Cole Porter and Glenn Miller, and they’ll give concerts in Morton and Springfield this weekend. I’ll talk with their director on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll also hear about performances by Marc Boon and the Unknown Legends in Bloomington and by Stone Soup Shakespeare in Paris, Illinois.
The Urbana Pops Orchestra will present the fifth and final in a series of monthly solo recitals by its members on Saturday afternoon. The orchestra’s associate concertmaster, Sara Sasaki, will give us a live preview of her genre-crossing program on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll talk also with cellist Jordan Gunn, winner of the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra’s annual concerto competition, in advance of their spring concert in Champaign Sunday night.
Wednesday evening, the Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival will present a screening of the PBS American Masters film Pete Seeger: The Power of Song. The evening will include a live performance of some of Seeger’s songs by local songwriter Paul Kotheimer, who, like Seeger, mixes political activism with his music-making. He’ll do a solo show in Champaign on Saturday, and he’ll play for us live on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.”
Champaign-Urbana-based tenor saxophone player Jonny Beckett makes music with a variety of bands, including Candy Foster and Shades of Blue, Bruiser and the Virtues and the Heartland Jazz Orchestra. Jazz, though, is his clear love, and he’s put out his first CD with a trio of musicians from Dallas. Jonny will play tunes from the disc with three local musicians in Urbana Tuesday night, and they’ll play for us live on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
Chicago native Jim Green is both a singer-songwriter and a pretty terrific acoustic guitarist. He enlivens his finger-style picking with percussive rhythms, multiple harmonics and something called “double pull-offs.” I’ll be sure to ask him about that one when he plays for us live on the Friday edition of “Live and Local,” in advance of his gigs in Urbana Friday and Saturday night—also about why he calls himself “The Wandering Endorphin.”
It’s a sad fact that many schools throughout the country have eliminated their orchestral programs. That happened in the Springfield area during the 1970s, but into the void stepped the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony, which supports four ensembles, as well as an adult community orchestra. They’ll all perform this weekend, and we’ll hear details on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll talk also with singer-songwriter Diana Chittester, who plays in Rochester on Friday.
Though you may not know an instrument called the koto by name, you almost surely would recognize the sound of it. Considered the national instrument of Japan, this long zither first appeared in the Japanese court in the 8th century. Koto virtuoso Yoko Reikano Kimura will perform a recent concerto for her instrument with The Prairie Ensemble in Champaign Saturday night, and she’ll be my guest on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.”
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