Arts

Arts and culture

Spring finally seems to have arrived with an abundance of flowers. In the old poem, it's April showers that bring May flowers. But in opera, flowers pop up for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are pretty. While operatic flowers can be enjoyed for their beauty, their allure can also spell trouble. This springtime fleurs de l'opéra puzzler includes some lovely blossoms you might not want to sniff. Score high and come out smelling like a rose. Score low and feel yourself wilt with inadequacy.

Artigras Parade Kicks Off Arts Celebration

May 4, 2015
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Mix the visual and performing arts with a gorgeous spring afternoon outdoors. Add a lot of color and an evening of music and you've got Artigras.

The art-themed parade is a first for Northern Illinois University and DeKalb. It started in downtown DeKalb Saturday afternoon and made its way to NIU's art building. Post-parade music included concerts by the NIU Steel Band, the university's ukulele ensemble, and the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra.                                             

In a recital hall at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, a group of musicians got together to play Jean-Baptiste Singelée's 1857 quartet for saxophones on some very old, very special instruments.

Maria Boynton

Remember when we issued a call in March for books from Illinois and Wisconsin authors? WNIJ received dozens of submissions before the April 3 deadline and, for the last month, we've been reading fiction, non-fiction and poetry from all over the region.

With some difficulty, we decided on four works that are listed below. I'll start interviewing the authors this month, and we'll present these conversations Friday mornings in June. Listen at 6:52 and 8:52, and then come back here for additional content -- including author excerpts.

NIU

Artigras, a campus and community celebration of the arts, takes place this Saturday in DeKalb.  Dana Stover is one of the organizers of Artigras. She says the idea for a celebration that would include everyone in the DeKalb area began at a student art reception that she and her husband, NIU President Doug Baker, held at their home last year.

Trumpeter Rolf Smedvig, praised for his beautiful tone and virtuosic style, died Monday afternoon at his home in West Stockbridge, Mass. The cause of death, according to his long-time manager Mark Z. Alpert, was a heart attack. Smedvig was 62.

It was 1964 when the young Philip Glass found himself in Paris. He was on a Fulbright scholarship to study with the revered pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. It was a career move carefully planned. Glass wanted to be a composer and he knew Boulanger's rigorous lessons in traditional Western harmony and counterpoint would sharpen his skills.

The vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth consists of eight classically trained singers incorporating Tuvan throat singing, Appalachian yodeling, operatic trills, rhythmic exhalations and whispered speech into music written by some of the most exciting young composers of the 21st century.

Life changed a lot after that day in 1877 when Thomas Edison spoke "Mary had a little lamb" into a contraption he called a phonograph and discovered he could reproduce sound. Back then, tinfoil cylinders captured just a few flickering moments. Today Wagner's entire Ring cycle fits on a 16GB flash drive.

Metropolitan Opera Chorus Master Donald Palumbo knows voices, and how to instruct singers to protect them.

Palumbo says that all singers have to monitor their voices while rehearsing during the day. The goal, he says, is to insure singers are at their "freshest" and "most solid" for the evening performance.

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