Out and About

A preview of the upcoming weekend's arts activities in Central Illinois with your hosts, Peoria Public Radio's Nathan Irwin and Jennifer Gordon of Arts Partners of Central Illinois.

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Our guest this week is jazz vocalist Judy Page. She's the featured performer in this month's "Jazz Night in the Heights" event, sponsored by the Central Illinois Jazz Society. Page talks about some of the ensembles she's been associated with, about being drawn to the jazz standards of the 1920s and 1930s, and the advantages of working with many of the same musicians over a long period.

"Jazz Night in the Heights" begins Sunday night at 6:00 at the Trailside Event Center, at 4416 North Prospect Road in Peoria Heights.

This week, we're talking with Jessica Bingham, co-founder of Project 1612; and with artist Chintia Kirana. Kirana's art is featured in a two-day exhibit, Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. She will also be discussing her work from 1 to 2 on Saturday. She talks about some of the inspirations behind her work, and about choosing and curating the pieces that comprise this exhibit.

Corn Stock Theatre

Our guest this week is Amy Glass. She's directing "The Glass Menagerie," which continues this weekend at Corn Stock Theatre's Winter Playhouse. Glass says she was drawn to the show for the family dynamics it depicts, and for the theme of escape which is present in each of the central characters -- and which continues to have resonance in 2017. The play is a "memory play" in which narrator Tom Wingfield appears in the main story, and reflects on it as narrator years later. Glass talks about using lighting and staging to define the two spaces.

Scott Kanoff and Susan Somerville Brown are with us this week, to talk about the Bradley University Theatre Department's production of "Little Women." It's a musical adaptation of the well-known novel, and Kanoff describes it as perhaps the department's most ambitious undertaking. After staging several rock-oriented musicals in the past few seasons, the department wanted its students to experience a more traditional musical this year. They were also looking for a show that offered multiple prominent roles for female performers.

This week, we're talking with George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Their next concert represents a departure for the orchestra; they will playing live to accompany a screening of the film "la La Land." Stelluto talks about what concert-goers can expect from the performance, and about the different demands this concert places on him and the orchestra. He also explains the "click track" which keeps the musicians and the film in sync.

The Peoria Symphony Orchestra presents its next concert Saturday night at 7:30 in the Peoria Civic Center Theatre.

Peoria Players Theatre

This week, we're talking with Susan Hazzard. She's directing "The Woman In Black," now on stage at Peoria Players Theatre. It's her directorial debut, and she talks about why she chose it as her first production. She also talks about working with the small cast of three actors, about the technical elements that create a mood of suspense, and about the effect she hopes the production will have on audience members.

"The Woman In Black" continues with performances tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday at Peoria Players.

Arts Partners of Central Illinois

This week, Jen Gordon showcases the Citywide Celebration of Women in the Arts with two special guests.  First, we'll chat with Kristan McKinsey, director of the Illinois Women Artists Project about the life, legacy and works of creative women artists. We'll also learn more about project's upcoming symposium at Bradley University

Peoria Riverfront Museum

This week, Nathan Irwin is talking with Zac Zetterberg from the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Their new exhibit, "Emergence: The National Arts of Central Illinois" features works by Central Illinois artists of national and international stature. He talks about how the idea for the exhibit developed, and about collaborating with artists and educators in the region to curate the show. There's also a lecture series that will run in conjunction with the exhibit.

Our guests this week are George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra; and Gary Roberts, President of Bradley University. The Peoria Symphony begins it's 120th season this weekend. They talk about the shared history of the orchestra and the university (which celebrates it's own 120th anniversary this year). The concert recognizes other notable anniversaries, of Johannes Brahms and Leonard Bernstein.

This week, we're talking with Kip Strasma and artist Preston Jackson. The MAXAM Building is presenting its Fall Art Show, featuring the work of Central Illinois Artists. Jackson is one of the artists whose work will be on display. They talk about the initial decision to identify a potential art venue in the building, and about its proximity to places like the Contemporary Art Center and the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Many of the works in this show are designed to encourage interaction between the art (or the artists) and the observer.

Peoria Players Theatre

Our guests this week are Dave Montague and Vicky Snyder. They're playing Frollo and Esmeralda (respectively) in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Peoria Players Theatre. Snyder and Montague talk about their roles, and some the themes of the show. They also praise the score, and expect that audiences will be impressed by the show's costumes and set.

Peoria Players Theatre opens its 99th season with "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." It opens tonight, and performances continue through Sunday, September 17th.

David Commanday, conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra, is with us to talk about the concert that opens the orchestra's ninth season. Fittingly, the program includes Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Commanday says it's the culmination of Beethoven's symphonic works, and it includes the well-known "Ode to Joy," with its themes of freedom and universal brotherhood.

Corn Stock Theatre

Bryan Blanks is the director of the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie," which closes the summer season at Corn Stock Theatre. He describes it as a high-energy show, that's appropriate and fun for all ages. Set in the Flapper era of the 1920s, it tells the story of a young woman who sets out for New York City to marry for money. Blanks talks about the music of the show, which hearkens back to the jazz age, and the intense, tap-driven choreography.

The Prairie Center of the Arts is hosting its 4th Regional Alumni Art Exhibition. It features the work of 28 artists -- all alumni of the Center's residency program. We spoke with Barb Hoffmann and Michael Gilbert, two current residents. They talk about what the residency program has meant for them, and how it has enhanced their work. We also discussed a few of the works included in the exhibit, representing multiple styles and media.

We talk with Kelleen Nitsche and Sarah Marie Dillard about this year's Ignite Peoria event. Nitsche is the coordinator of the main performance stage, which features appearances from local performing arts groups -- theatre, dance, even magic. There are also musical theatre and improv workshops for young performers, and a "ticket booth" with special offers from area performers.

Nyk Sutter and Sandra Iadipaolo are the co-directors of "Bring It On: The Musical," the summer youth production at Peoria Players Theatre. The show features music by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of "Hamilton" fame) and demands a range of dance, cheerleading and tumbling from its cast. They talk about adapting their rehearsal process to those needs, the elements of the show that they found to be universal, and about the challenges (and rewards) of working with a cast of 14- to 20-year-olds.

"Bring It On: The Musical" continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Peoria Players.

Leigh Ann Brown and Kelly Scarfe are in the studio this week to talk about the Tazewell Art Loop, held the fourth Friday of every month. Similar to First Fridays, the event offers opportunities to meet local artists, tour their studios and see works in progress. The Tazewell event also highlights locally-owned businesses. The organizers have developed walking tours for four participating communities: Morton, Tremont, Delavan, and Pekin.

Imagine Exhibitions

Ann Schmitt joins us to talk about two exhibits now on display at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. "Illuminations: Light in Art" features works from their permanent collection, which explore the role of light in art. The exhibit includes Impressionist pieces, work by local artists Doug and Eileen Leunig, and a sample of Vantablack -- the blackest artificial substance known.

Its time to get wild this weekend on Out and About with a pair of events at Wildlife Prairie Park. Today, Jenn talks Doug Dillow, Executive Director of Wildlife Prairie Park to learn about the Art in the Wild photo contest and display, and we'll heat things up with a preview of the next installment of their Wildfire Concert Series.

If You Go

Trish Williams / Blogspot

Nathan and Jenn talk with fiber artist Trish Williams to learn about her works and the Fiber Artists Coalition exhibition titled Wabi-Sabi: Finding Beauty in the Imperfect. The  fiber and mixed media is currently on display at the Foster Gallery for Christianity and the Fine Arts on the second floor mezzanine at First United Methodist in Peoria. 

This week, we're talking with Eric Ewan. He's directing "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at Corn Stock Theatre. The names of the characters are drawn from the works of Anton Chekhov, but Ewan says the play stands on its own, without requiring a knowledge of those works. He also talks about the six-person cast, three of whom are returning to the Corn Stock stage after absences of varying lengths.

The production continues tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Corn Stock Tent in Upper Bradley Park.

This week, we're talking with Bob Kessler, a Chicago-based harmonica player, and one of the three musicians featured in the Third Annual Harmonica Invitational at the Contemporary Art Center. He talks about what initially drew him to that instrument, about what to expect from the invitational event, and about his recent collaborations on opera and theatre productions.

The Third Annual Harmonica Invitational takes place tonight from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Contemporary Art Center, at 305 SW Water Street in downtown Peoria.

Wheels O' Time Museum

This week, we're talking with Marcia Johnson, from the Wheels O' Time Museum.

She talks about some of the museum's special exhibits and event for the summer. The River and Rails exhibit includes a 1/8th-scale model of a locomotive that was that was in use in Peoria for many years.

She also updates us on the progress of a steel house. The house has been moved from its prior location on Grant Street, and is currently undergoing repairs before it goes on display.

This week, we're talking about the Peoria Riverfront Jazz and Art Festival, with Mary Jo Papich. The event features live performances throughout the day, representing a wide range of jazz styles; a jazz improv workshop; and exhibiting artists. Papich talks about the need she saw for the event, about some of the Peoria natives who are returning to perform, and about other upcoming jazz events with the Central Illinois Jazz Society.

The Peoria Riverfront Jazz and Art Festival runs Saturday from 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the CEFCU Stage on the Peoria Riverfront.

This week, were talking with Kari Schimmel, coordinator of Sculpture Walk Peoria; an with Jaci Willis, one of the sculptors whose work is featured this year.

Schimmel talks about some of the events scheduled to coincide with Sculpture Walk, and how it's grown as it enters its third year. Willis talks about her piece, and what it's like to participate in the event as a featured artist.

Sculpture Walk Peoria kicks off with a ribbon-cutting and inaugural walk, tomorrow morning at 10:00.

This week, we're talking with cellist Patrice Jackson and David Commanday, Artistic Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra. The HFO's next concert is called "New World." It features music by Dvorak, Carl Maria von Weber and American composer David Popper. Jackson is the featured soloist for this performance. She talks about her own arrangement of Bruno Mars' 24K Magic," which she'll perform with the orchestra. She also talks about her wide-ranging musical pursuits, and how she encourages a similar versatility in her students.

This week, we're talking with photographer Natalie Jackson O'Neal, about her exhibit, "Crowns of Empowerment." The exhibit is inspired by her interest in fashion magazines of the 1940s to 1960s. Noticing that those magazines generally excluded black women. O'Neal set about creating a series of her own photographs, featuring models dressed in vintage clothes juxtaposed with allusions to the history of the civil rights struggle. She talks about the process of creating the exhibit, and about where and how she found her models.

Co-directors Erica Franken and Sarah Beth Leasor are with us, to talk about Peoria Players' production of "Billy Elliot." The musical is known for its heavy use of dance. They talk about how that shaped everything from their casting, to the rehearsal process, to numerous physical improvements made to the Peoria Players stage. They also talk about the specific historical context of the show, and about some of what they lerned as first-time directors.

"Billy Elliot" opens tonight, and runs through Sunday, May 14th, at Peoria Players Theatre.

This week, we're talking with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra's George Stelluto, and with violinist Arnaud Sussman. The PSO is presenting a concert with music of Beethoven and Brahms this weekend. They talk about about the Brahms Violin Concerto, and Beethoven Third Symphony. Stelluto describes the Beethoven Symphony -- which was originally dedicated to Napoleon -- as a transition point between the Classical and Romantic Eras. Sussmann calls the Brahms "the king of all the Violin Concertos," one which treats the violin as an integral part of the orchestra.

This week, we're talking with David Commanday, Artistsic Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra.

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