Nathan Irwin

Program Director

Nathan Irwin has been WCBU’ s Program Director since 2001. Prior to that, he was a talk-show producer and announcer for New Hampshire Public Radio. His first radio job was KFJM-FM in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He grew up in upstate New York, Wisconsin and Karachi, Pakistan. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in political science.

Outside the studios, Nathan spends most of his time as an actor and singer. He has performed with Corn Stock Theatre, Peoria Players and the Bradley Community Chorus.

Ways to Connect

This week, we're talking with Mike Reams. He's directing the production of "Sugar" which opens Corn Stock Theatre's summer season. The musical is an adaptation of the 1950s movie, "Some Like It Hot." Reams talks about his cast, the show's story and score, and why he thinks it's a good show to open the new season.

"Sugar" runs June 3rd through the 11th, under the Corn Stock tent in Upper Bradley Park in Peoria

The Great Work Begins Theatre Troupe

We're joined this week by Jess Hemmis and Rebekah Dentino. Hemmis directs, and Dentino performs in, The Great Work Begins Theatre Troupe's production of "Seascape with Sharks and Dancer." They talk about the play itself, about how their production has changed since a previous performance last year, and about moving the show into a different performance venue.

Performances of "Seascape with Sharks and Dancer" are tonight and tomorrow in the Broadway Lounge at the Waterhouse in downtown Peoria.

This week, we're talking with sculptor Matt Matheney, His piece "Eternal Flame" is featured in the inaugural Sculpture Walk Peoria. He talks about that piece, about his choice to work in stone, and about his experiences as a participant in the event's first year. Next year's Sculpture Walk begins on June 4th.

Jim Dwyer / Peoria Riverfront Museum

We're talking with the Peoria Riverfront Museum's Kristan McKinsey, about Peoria artist Nita Sunderland. Last year, Sunderland made a donation of art to the museum, and many of those pieces are featured in the current exhibit, "Figures of Strength." McKinsey recaps Sunderland's career, her history with the museum, and what makes her work distinctive.

"Figures of Strength: Artworks by sculptor Nita Sunderland" is on display through July 10th at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

This week, we're talking with Tengku Irfan. The young pianist is  the featured soloist in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra's concert this weekend. Called "American Classics," the program features works by George Antheil, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. We talk a little bit about the three pieces, each of which incorporates elements of jazz. We also talk about balancing a busy concert schedule with academic commitments, and about Irfan's double interest in performing and composing.

Peoria Journal-Star

This week, we're talking with Brent Goken from Illinois Central College. He's the coordinator of the event "ICC Presents: Jim Maloof's Legacy of Love for the Arts in Central Illinois," now in its fourth year. He talks about the history of the event, which began as a tribute to the late Peoria mayor, and about moving the performance to ICC this year. He also talks about Maloof's long ties to the central Illinois arts community and the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Jefferson Street Studio & Gallery

We're joined this week by Rose Hubbard, owner of the Jefferson Street Studio and Gallery in Morton, IL. The Gallery, a converted residential home, provides studio space for three artists, and a gallery that features the work of other artists. Hubbard talks about her own art, about opening the studio four years ago, and about some of the events they have in store for First Friday.

The Jefferson Street Studio and Gallery is located at 206 Jefferson Street in Morton. Their First Friday event runs tonight from 5:00 to 9:00.

This week, we talk with Dennis 'Boz' Bosley and Danny Meyers, the founding members of the Rooster Alley Band. First formed in 1992, the band has been playing their original, rock-infused style of blues in central Illinois for almost twenty-five years. Bosley and Meyers talk about the origins of the band, their approach to writing music, and about playing upwards of 100 gigs each year -- in venues large and small. The Rooster Alley Band is performing tonight at 5:30 at the Contemporary Art Center, at 305 SW Water Street in Peoria.

This week, we hear from  Scott Ramsay and Allyson Herman, two of the soloists featured in this weekend's concert with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. The PSO is presenting a concert verision of Mozart's opera, "Cosi fan tutte." We talk about how this concert differs from a full opera performance, about the plot and themes of Mozart's opera, and about how the performers are hoping this concert will introduce some patrons to the operatic art form in a new way.

The Peoria Symphony Orchestra presents Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," Saturday night at 8:00 at Grace Church in Peoria.

Peoria Players Theatre

This week, we're talking with Laura Garfinkel. She's directing Peoria Players Theatre's production of "To Kill a Mockingbird." The story has been much in the news lately -- A prequel novel was published last fall, and author Harper Lee died earlier this year. Garfinkel talks about the effect that news has had on ticket sales. She also says that the show addresses persistent issues of race and justice in America. And she talks about how the play is staged to maximize the impact of the courtroom scenes at the core of the show.

Bradley University Theatre

This week, we're talking with Susan Felder, from the Bradley University Theatre Department. She's directing their production of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull."

She talks about how the characters and conflicts in the play make it a good fit for younger actors, and about how Chekhov writing style. His works profoundly changed both the way characters are written, and how actors today try to interpret those characters.

"The Seagull" runs through Sunday, March 6th, at the Hartmann Center on the Bradley campus in Peoria.

Barry Cloyd

Barry Cloyd is back this week. The singer/songwriter is performing tonight, as part of the Forest Park Nature Center's "Songs from the Woods" concert series. Cloyd talks about his long association with the Nature Center, the band he has put together for this concert, and about his songwriting process.

The concert is tonight at 7:00 at the Peoria Park District's Noble Center on North University in Peoria (the former location of the Peoria Riverfront Museum).

This week, we're talking with soprano Marisa Buchheit, and with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra's George Stelluto. Buchheit is the featured soloist in their concert, "Romance." Along with works of Rachmaninoff and Ravel, the concert features a selection of love songs from opera and musical theatre. Buchheit also performed with the PSO at its outdoor concert on the Peoria Riverfront back in September.

The concert is Saturday night at 8:00 at the Peoria Civic Center Theatre.

Corn Stock Theatre

This week, we're talking about "Of Mice and Men" with director Paul Gordon, and actor Chris Peterlin. The production opens Friday, February 12th at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse. Gordon, who describes himself as a fan of author John Steinbeck, says he eagerly accepted the opportunity to direct this play. Peterlin , who plays Lennie in the show, is returning to community theatre after a long absence for this production. He talks about how he approached the challenging role.

Peoria Riverfront Museum

Kristan McKinsey from the Peoria Riverfront Museum joins us to talk about the exhibit, "Stitched for Pleasure and Purpose: Quilts and Samplers." The quilts are drawn from the museum's permanent collection, and span the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We talk about the history of quilting in America, and its functions -- both practical and social.

"Stitched for Pleasure and Purpose" continues through March 20th at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Contemporary Art Center

This week, we're talking with the Contemporary Art Center's William Butler, and with artist Larry Jon Davis. Davis is one of two artists featured in the exhibit "Inspired by Nature." Davis' works have been described as "earthscapes" -- abstract, impressionistic images inspired by the natural world. In this exhibit, his work is paired with sculptures by Dwight Crane. Butler talks about the process of selecting artists in the CAC's exhibits, and finding the best way to display their work in the Center's gallery space.

The Penguin Project

This week, we're talking with Andrew Morgan, from The Penguin Project. He's directing their 2016 production, "Singin' in the Rain, Jr." The Penguin Project aims to provide opportunities for children with special needs to participate in the performing arts. It's now expanded, with a program for older performers at Illinois Central College, and similar productions around the country. Morgan talks about those developments, and about the unique mission of The Penguin Project.

Performances are Friday night through Sunday afternoon at Eastlight Theatre in East Peoria High School.

Heartland Festival Orchestra

This week, we're talking with David Commanday, Music Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra. The HFO kicks off the new year with a concert called "New Year's Greeting - Broadway Rhythm." Broadway performers Bev and Kirby Ward will be featured in selections from the Great American Songbook. We talk about the repertoire in the concert, the parallels between American musical theatre and Viennese waltzes, and about the orchestra's community partners -- Crittendon Centers.

The concert is Saturday night at 7:30 at Five Points Washington.

Peoria Area Civic Chorale

This week, we're talking with Dr. Joseph Henry, conductor of the Peoria Area Civic Chorale. They're presenting their holiday concert, "An American Family Christmas" this weekend at Five Points Washington. We talk about the Chorale's repertoire of sacred and secular works -- including John Rutter's "Gloria." We also talk about the history and development of the concert, the rehearsal process, and Henry's recent return to PACC after a few years' sabbatical.

Performances are tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday afternoon.

Central Illinois Ballet

This week, we're talking with Richard Smith and Brett Benedict of the Central Illinois Ballet. The company is in its debut season, and they're presenting two performances of the holiday classic, "The Nutcracker." We talk a little bit about the new company, and about finding a distinctive "take" on a work that's performed so often. We also ask how dancers feel about performing "The Nutcracker" so frequently.

Performances are Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the ICC Performing Arts Center in East Peoria.

This week, we're talking with Shawn Degenhart, from GospelFest Ministries. They're presenting a holiday concert, "Christmas in the Country." Degenhart talks about gospel music as a genre, how it differs from other choral traditions, and some of the works in the program. He also talks about being able to make the concert free of charge for the first time this year. The performance is Saturday night at 7:00 at Five Points Washington.

We're joined this week by John Jost, conductor of the Bradley Community Chorus, and Bradley Symphony Orchestra conductor Tim Semanik. They're both conducting this weekend's concert, which features Mozart's "Mass in C" and Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem." They talk about the contrasting moods of the two selections -- the Mozart is a boisterous, joyful work; the Vaughan Williams is more solemn. They also talk a little about the process of rehearsing the two ensembles separately, before joining them in the final few rehearsals.

Kristan McKinsey is our guest this week, talking about the exhibit, "Making Their Mark: Illinois Women Artists, 1940-1960" at the Peoria Riverfront Musuem. We talk about the significance of that era in women's history, about the work of the featured artists, and teh legacy they left for the artists who followed in their footsteps. The exhibit runs through January 17th.

This week, we're talking with Scott Kanoff, from the Bradley Theatre Department, about their production of "High Fidelity." The musical is an adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel (and the subsequent film), and features a score that draws inspiration from several decades of rock and pop music. Kanoff talks about some of the music featured in the show. He also talks about introducing his students -- raised in a world of iTunes and Spotify -- to vinyl LPs.

Performances of "High Fidelity" continue Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon at the Hartmann Center on the Bradley campus.

This week, we're with Artistic Director David Commanday, and soloist Michael Brown, talking about Saturday's concert with the Heartland Festival Orchestra, which features an all-Beethoven program. They share a few thoughts about some of the works on the program -- including the Piano Concerto no. 3 and the Seventh Symphony, about how they approach Beethoven's compositions, and about the composer's distinctive style.

George Stelluto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony, is with us this week to talk about the orchestra's upcoming concert. It features a performance by Tony and Grammy Award winner Audra McDonald. Stelluto talks about the logistics of finding artists for the PSO's World Artist series, about the repertoire that will be featured on the program, and about McDonald's unique artistry. The concert is Saturday night at 8:00 at the Peoria Civic Center Theatre.

The musical “The Addams Family” is based on the familiar presents a new story with familiar characters dating back to the 1920s. Stan Strickler reviews a production now on stage at Peoria Players Theatre, for Peoria Public Radio and the Live Theatre League of Peoria. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer, not those of Peoria Public Radio or the Live Theatre League.

Springdale Cemetery

On this first weekend of autumn, Nathan and Jenn invite Charles Brown into the studio for a preview of the upcoming historic Springdale Cemetery tours. Brown, a performer with Prairie Folklore Theatre , says this year's tour will focus on the contributions of Peoria's Jewish families. 


This week, we have another look at "Making Their Mark by Illinois Women Artists." We also preview the Peoria Riverfront Museum's "Gypsy Coeds Ride the Silver Streak," which has beautiful works that include quilts that have never been seen before.

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