A preview of this weekend's Illinois Symphony Orchestra concert -  "Sensational Strings" - featuring music by Mozart, Kernis, and Dvorak.  Yona Stamatis talks with ISO Music Director and conductor Alastair Willis.

Sensational Strings - Illinois Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Friday, January 22, 7:30 PM, First Presbyterian Church, Springfield.
Saturday, January 23, 7:30 PM, Second Presbyterian Church, Bloomington.

Jacqualine Simone Williams


In the wake of police shootings of black men and other incidents, there is a resurgence of young activists speaking out across the country.

Two Springfield artists, Ayo Abitogun and Sammy Flores, seek change through spoken word and music.  Jacqualine Simone Williams sat down to talk with them about their work. 

Cigarette vending machine converted to art dispenser.
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

If you were to draw lines pointing in from Champaign, Springfield, Indianapolis and Effigham, they'd meet in Tuscola. The town's population of less than 5 ,000 may well double on weekends, when shoppers from all over central Illinois flock to its outlet mall.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Tune in to this week's version of The Scene - Scott Faingold & Rachel are joined by special guest host, local singer/songwriter Tom Irwin.

Scott Faingold & Rachel Otwell publicity shot
Sean Crawford/ / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Scott Faingold  reports on arts & culture for the Illinois Times. (Find his blog here.) We'll be turning to him for this podcast exploring the central Illinois art scene - everything from music, literature, visual art, film and more. With my focus also being on the arts world here in Springfield, and Illinois - we'll tell listeners about our favorite things to check out in the area. We'll be learning about new artists and musicians right along with you.


Penny Wollan-Kriel will retire at the end of next month as Executive Director of the Springfield Area Arts Council.  But she won't give up her connection to the arts community. 

'I am definitely staying back.  I do not want to be someone looking over the shoulder of the new Executive Director," she said.  "I will continue my involvement in the arts and with children."

She is a Springfield native who grew up dancing. Her  connection to the arts goes back to her childhood. Wollan-Kriel has spent a combined 17 years with the arts council.

A new professional vocal ensemble will hold its first concert Sunday in Springfield.  The Gloriana Chamber Choir features several who teach music and voice as well as others. 

The Conductor and Artistic Director Dr. Elizabeth W. Zobel of Blackburn College is the founder and she spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford about the endeavor. 

The choir performs at 4 p.m. Sunday August 3 at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.  The performance will feature English music. 


You may know the story of the war between the states.  But what is often overlooked is the emotional drama the period had on those who lived through it.

The musical "The Civil War" brings that part of the story to the stage in downtown Springfield starting Thursday night. 

"It's not a history lesson, although you learn a lot," Co-director Phil Funkenbusch said. "It's really a concert theatre piece."

"Instead of telling the story of the Civil War, it's really telling the stories about the people involved in the war."

If you love Elvis, get ready for the next Springfield Muni production.  All Shook Up begins a 3 week run Friday night.

We had a chance to speak with Jacob Deters, an SHG grad who plays "Dennis", Glenwood grad Sophie Lanser, who portrays "Natalie/Ed" and the director Anna Bussing.  It's her first time directing, but she's been part of the Muni family for years, first appearing as a kid on the lakeside stage. 

Deters and Lanser also give us a sample of the dialogue and perform a song.

Photo by Dan LoGrasso / A Feral Gentleman Productions

December visitors to downtown Springfield's Café Andiamo will be greeted by the photography of artist and Springfield native Dan LoGrasso. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, LoGrasso has honed his camera skills as a military journalist on multiple international and domestic deployments.

Ties That Bind A StoryCorps 10th Anniversary Special

Oct 11, 2013

 This Columbus Day, October 14, WUIS' Illinois Edition invites you to listen to this special broadcast, Ties that Bind: StoryCorps 10th Anniversary Special

There are questions we would answer, if only we were asked. How did we grow up? What do we remember about home? What about our family? Celebrate the first decade of StoryCorps, with a special retrospective hosted by NPR’s Scott Simon and StoryCorps founder Dave Isay.

10/14/13 | 12 Noon & 7 pm.

Combining audio and visual effects, three Illinois musicians have joined up to create an act that defies conventional genres.

The trio plays a host of electronic and acoustic instruments - everything from saxophone, to cello, to the iPad.

The group recently released an album that is 100% improvised, as well as a DVD of those performances. They call their production, "Sound Portraits".

The three will be performing live again on August 31 as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival.

The film festival held in Springfield each fall has expanded its calendar of events to include "mini-screenings" this summer.

Route 66 International Film Festival board member Thea Chesley joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to discuss the short films her group is now sharing with moviegoers - in a setting that's more casual than conventional:

Can the Arts Salve The Wounds of the Recession?

Dec 1, 2011

A single mom working as a part-time postal clerk at a small village post office in Shelby County moves briskly, dispensing stamps, weighing letters and shifting bulky packages. When not on duty at the post office, she works the late shift at the convenience store, sweeping the floors and locking up. She also manages to baby-sit and clean houses at other hours, all in an effort to make the proverbial ends meet in the slow drag of this recession.

Ragdale House in the fall.
Sarah Hadley / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Back home in Philadelphia, Beth Feldman Brandt reserves her Fridays for writing poetry. At least, in theory she does. Distractions tend to get in the way for the busy foundation director.

So, for the second time in two years, Brandt has traveled to Ragdale, a retreat-style campus in Lake Forest, to recharge her batteries as an artist. Within a week of arriving, she had already made significant strides on one of her next projects, a series of poems based on arcane maps she viewed at Chicago’s Newberry Library. 

Ragdale House in the fall.
Sarah Hadley / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Back home in Philadelphia, Beth Feldman Brandt reserves her Fridays for writing poetry. At least, in theory she does. Distractions tend to get in the way for the busy foundation director.

So, for the second time in two years, Brandt has traveled to Ragdale, a retreat-style campus in Lake Forest, to recharge her batteries as an artist. Within a week of arriving, she had already made significant strides on one of her next projects, a series of poems based on arcane maps she viewed at Chicago’s Newberry Library. 

Becoming Ray Bradbury

Dec 1, 2011
Photograph by Ralph Nelson courtesy of the Ray Bradbury family
Ralph Nelson / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Ray Bradbury has lived his life in two different worlds. Not on faraway planets like the settings of many of his science fiction tales. Bradbury’s life has been divided between his early childhood in Waukegan and his adult life in California. 

The Illinois Artisan Program
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The way former Gov. James R. Thompson tells it, the idea for the Illinois Artisans Program came to him on a trip out east.

“We went through Vermont, and Vermont had these artisan shops at their rest stops — a couple of them anyway — in which they exhibited and sold crafts and art done by Vermont artists and folk artists. It was a very impressive display, and I thought, ‘You know what, I’ll bet Illinois has artists and artisans as good as those in Vermont. Why aren’t we promoting Illinois arts and crafts?’”

Painting with Spaghetti

Dec 1, 2011
Installation view of Scott Reeder’s Untitled, 2011, MCA Chicago. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago|Berlin. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Commission
Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago / Museum of Contemporary Art

Scott Reeder paints ice cream cones that watch themselves melt in a mirror, depicts cigar-smoking fruit and crafts art made of spaghetti.

“All of my work is kind of humorous, deals with humor in different ways. My paintings come from conversations I have with people or funny or interesting things that I read,” says Reeder, an artist and associate professor at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Healing Through Art

Dec 1, 2011
The buttons were created from photographs brought by family members of their fallen solider.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Operation Oak Tree — which provides military families the opportunity to participate in therapeutic art, music and drama activities — recognizes that soldiers’ children are affected just as much as the spouses at home when soldiers are on deployment. 

Jamey Dunn headshot 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

State budget cuts and the often long wait that schools face for payments from the state have hurt arts education. Art teachers have been laid off. Schools sometimes forgo buying supplies such as paper and paint when the state is slow to pay, because often those are some of the only things in their bottom line that are flexible.

Jim Nutt, Bump, 2008. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,  Kansas City, MO
Jim Nutt / David Nolan Gallery, New York

Jim Nutt can take more than a year producing his paintings of women’s heads.

Walldogs: Building Murals Spruce Up Towns

Dec 1, 2010
Walldogs mural
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Former U.S. House Speaker ‘Uncle’ Joe Cannon, actor Dick Van Dyke and Chuckles candy all have something in common: They once called Danville home and recently had a mural painted of them. 

This August, the Walldogs, a group of sign and mural artists from around the world, descended on downtown Danville. Over the course of four days, a total of 16 murals were painted, bringing to life the town’s history and heritage. 

Aerosol Art: Out of Graffiti Comes Renewal

Dec 1, 2010
The graffiti mural in Monmouth, IL
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Buchanan Center for the Arts is a facility not always found in a community of 10,000 people. Located in Monmouth, county seat of Warren County in western Illinois, the center features a 2,400-square-foot exhibit space, an artisan gift shop and a large studio for classes, meetings and other arts-related and community events.

The Odyssey program is a two-day fine arts festival attended by everyone at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., recognized Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire as one of five schools nationwide that have made the arts an essential part of their students’ education. The award, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education, comes with $2,000 to support the school’s arts education program.

Editor's Note: Nonfiction is Art, Too

Dec 1, 2010
Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

My wife and I were feeling housebound on a recent rainy Sunday, so we set out for one of my favorite places in Springfield: a small used-books store near our home. It’s not the sort of place where you go with a particular book in mind; it’s the kind where you drop in periodically to scour the shelves for unexpected treasures.

Jamey Dunn
WUIS/Illinois Issues

I would not be a reporter today if it weren’t for the drama program at my high school. I was a pretty shy kid. Sure, I had friends, but I also had a very difficult time talking to strangers. Knowing I had to make a speech in front of a group of people would cause me to lose sleep for days. In conversations, I often mumbled or spoke too softly for people to hear. 

The Art Institute of Chicago. North View of Michigan Avenue Facade, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Hours cut. Salaries trimmed. Pay frozen. Staff reduced. An exhibition canceled in part because of budget woes. Sharply reduced endowments have forced Illinois museums into distasteful decisions over the past year.

“I’m not trying to put any icing on this. It’s been a difficult time. The most difficult time in my 30-year career in museums,’’ says Jim Richerson, president and CEO of the Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences in Peoria.

The Art of Science

Dec 1, 2009
Shown are color changes for 11 toxic industrial chemicals detected by an optoelectronic nose using a colorimetric sensor array (upper left). Like a fingerprint, each odorant has a unique color pattern.
Kenneth Suslick / University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“Art is science made clear,” said the French artist Jean Cocteau.

The public needs that. Science is complicated, detailed and that thing the “smart kids” in high school do. It uses terms such as “biotechnology” and “nanotechnology” that people sort of know and other terms like “phagocytes” and “quarks” that most have little idea what they are.


Dec 1, 2009

Millennium Park in Chicago is home to an exhibit featuring sculptures never before been seen in the United States. A Conversation with Chicago: Contemporary Sculptures from China displays four sculptures from some of China’s leading artists.

“Chinese contemporary art has become very popular in the last few years,” says Wu Hung, co-curator of the exhibit. “China is an emerging country, economically, and has a growing impact on the city of Chicago.” The exhibit aims to bring a global conversation about China to the city.