ArtsPartners of Central Illinois

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 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.

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.

Ann Schmitt, from the Peoria Riverfront Museum, is with us this week to talk about "The George & Norma Kottemann Collection: A 40-Year Passion For Art." The exhibit features work of mid-century and contemporary art from the couple's personal personal collection. It includes paintings, sculpture and glass art; and represents four decades of effort by the Peoria couple. Schmitt says the Kottemann's were strategic in their acquisitions, and often sought to meet the artists whose work they collected.

This week, we're talking with Eric Otto and Wendy Thomasson from the Peoria Ballet. They're presenting "Sleeping Beauty" this weekend. It's the first time the Ballet has performed this work, and it also marks Otto's debut as the company's Artistsic Director.

This week, we're talking with Marcia Henry Liebenow and Kyle Dzapo. They're two of the musicians featured in "Chamber Music by Candlelight." The concert - part of the Trinity Concert Series - features chamber music by composers ranging from Bach to Lukas Foss. They talk about selecting the works to include in the program, about what Trinity Lutheran Church offers as a performance venue, and about the unqiuely personal and intimate experience of performing chamber music.

"Chamber Music by Candlelight" will be presented Friday night at 7:00 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria.

This week, we're talking with Andrew Driscoll from the Peoria Cabaret Theatre, about "The Irish... And How They Got That Way." Written by Frank McCourt, the show celebrates the history of Irish immigrants to America. Driscoll talks about the show itself, and how it lends itself to a cabaret style presentation in his particular venue. He also talks about how it fits in among the other events presented in the Broadway Lounge, and an upcoming performance which spotlights the music of Peoria-born songwriter Richard A. Whiting.

This week, Nathan Irwin is talking with David Commanday, Music Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra. In their next concert, the orchestra is joined by three former finalists from "American Idol." Commanday talks about the three guest artists, and the different genres and vocal types they represent. He says the concert offers the orchestra an opportunity to present a different type of repertoire. And he talks about "American Idol" as a cultural and musical phenomenon.

This week, we're talking with Charles Killen. He's directing "August: Osage County" at Peoria Players Theatre. He describes the play as a multi-layered family drama, and the cast includes long-time Peoria actors, along with a few new faces. He also talks about the rehearsal process he and the cast engaged in to prepare the production, and he makes the case that author Tracy Letts' writing style is as rewarding for actors as it is for audiences.

"August Osage County" opens tonight, with performances continuing through March 19th at Peoria Players Theatre.

Central Illinois Youth Symphony

This week, we're talking with Jeff McSweeney, Executive Director of the Central Illinois Youth Symphony. They're presenting "A Musical Masquerade" tonight. It's a fund-raising event to support the CIYS and its programs for young musicians.

We talk about the CIYS, and the variety of orchestras and chamber ensembles it encompasses, and about some of the benefits young performers derive from participating in music. We also talk about what to expect from this this evening's event.

This week, we're talking with Scott Kanoff, from the Bradley University Department of Theatre Arts, about their production of "These Shining Lives." The play tells the story of women who worked at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, IL, the toll that work took on their health, and the legal case they pursued against the company. Kanoff talks about the play, why they selected it, and some local connections to the story it recounts. The performance on Sunday, February 26th, the department will also present a moot court trial on the legal issues involved in the story.

Director Chip Joyce is with us to talk about Corn Stock Theatre's production of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." The rock musical depicts the personal life and political career of the nation's seventh President. Joyce says the show's emo-rock score fits the charged, tumultuous era in which Jackson lived. He talks about how he first discovered the show, and why he thinks Corn Stock's Winter Playhouse is a good venue for it. He also contrasts it with the more recent musical, "Hamilton."

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