Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Austin choral group Conspirare won a Grammy last night for Best Choral Performance for its recording The Sacred Spirit of Russia. The group, which formed in 1991, has been nominated five times in previous years, but last night marked its first win.

The winning record includes the group covering Russian composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Gretchaninov. The album was recorded in Austin in 2013 at St. Martin's Lutheran Church.

Steven Webb and his husband Jeremy Stubbs recently had a conversation in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about their lives growing up, their experiences coming out to their families, and their time together, including their recent wedding.  

March 2, 7 p.m. @ Paramount Theatre

Jad Abumrad, host of WNYC’s Radiolab, knows something about creative struggle. He’ll be telling the story of Radiolab and how he found his voice, with attention paid to all the horrible feelings involved in making something new.

Courtesy of Blanton Museum

UT-Austin's Blanton Museum of Art has acquired and will construct an original work by artist Ellsworth Kelly. The price tag for the construction is $15 million, but the work is more than a sculpture or an installation – it's a 2,715-square-foot building.

Kelly designed the piece, now titled "Austin," in 1986, and he hoped that it would one day be built in a public space. The work will feature a redwood totem sculpture, black and white marble panels and colored stained glass windows.

On this edition of In Black America, producer & host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Joe Sample.

Sample was a pianist, keyboard player and composer, who became a jazz star in the 1960s with the Jazz Crusaders and an even bigger star a decade later when he began playing electric keyboards and the group simplified its name to the Crusaders.

The Jazz Crusaders, who played the muscular, bluesy variation on bebop known as hard bop, had their roots in Houston, where Sample, the tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and the drummer Nesbert ‘Stix’ Hooper began performing together as the Swingsters while in high school.

Nathan and Molly Wiebe met as teenagers, dated for several years, and have now been married for a decade. They recently sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth to talk about their life together, and the fact that Nathan has been living with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis since childhood.

www.classicfm.com

“..true music must repeat the thought and inspirations of the people and the time. My people are Americans and my time is today.” -George Gershwin

But what does it mean to be American? How did being a first generation American inform Gershwin's perspective? Was he always on the outside looking in? How does he, and the work he produced, embody the American dream? 

Sisters Jennifer Connor and Joyce Culbertson recently sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about a lot of things, and shared some memories of growing up with their mom and dad, both of whom are deaf.

From Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texasthis month’s Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Mission:

The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

Vision:

The Big Brothers Big Sisters vision is that all children achieve success in life.

Austinite Plans City's First 'Cat Cafe'

Jan 29, 2015
totororo/flickr

Cat lovers may soon have a new Austin hangout: Plans are underway for the city's first cat café.

The idea for what Rebecca Gray is calling the Blue Cat Café is still in the early planning stages. She hasn't secured a location yet, but Gray envisions a space where people can play with adoptable cats while grabbing coffee or a bite to eat. She hopes to open sometime this year.

kefiproject.org

This month’s episode of In Perspective explores what it means to be displaced or without a home. Our new roundtable participants ask: How do we define “home”? Is it a house? Is it family, a sense of community? Is it a place or a feeling?

The discussants share their perspectives, from the practical concerns of living on the streets of Austin, to the role of creative production in dealing with homelessness, to challenging notions of displacement and transience as unnatural. Ultimately, the discussion turns toward the ways in which our perceptions of home and homelessness influence our views on immigration, the need for refuge, and national identity.

This weekend, A’Lante Flamenco will present Prophecies, a music and dance production inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book The Prophet.   

The book, a collection of poetic essays, addressed many of the issues of the day, as the residents of a village asked a foreign prophet for his insights on the human condtion. While many of those issues remain just as relevant 90 years after the book's publication, and are addressed in the show, the creative minds of A'Lante (husband and wife artistic partners Olivia and Isai Chacon) decided to tackle some more modern questions as well, such as negotiating friendship in the age of social media.

Josh Ribacove has only been married to his wife Margaret Koppelman for a few years, but they met nearly four decades ago. When they sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth recently, Josh and Margaret talked about the day they met.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Edward D. Irons, noted educator, financial and business executive, and author of “Only By Grace.”

Irons spent more than sixty years as a university educator; a business, government, and educational executive; a management and financial consultant to business, banks, and to the U.S. and foreign governments including the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa. He served on a number of corporate boards and numerous nonprofit organizations. Four Atlanta mayors, three Georgia governors, and one Oklahoma governor appointed him to boards and commissions.

NPR won't announce the winner of its Tiny Desk Concert Contest until Feb. 12, but the submissions are all in. Unsurprisingly, there are a good number of entrants from the Live Music Capital of the World, and they're all collected below.

The first-ever Tiny Desk contest received more than 7,000 submissions involving about 40,000 musicians total.

The contest winner will fly to NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and perform a concert at the media outlet's famous Tiny Desk recording corner, a space formerly visited by the likes of T-Pain, Miguel, Adele and John Legend.

Gertha Murphy was born 101 years ago in Goodwill, Texas, a small community in Washington County. She is, in her words, a "dyed in the wool" Texan.

She recently sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her daughter, Reverend Marion Childress-Usher. They talked about many things, and in this section of the conversation, Rev. Childress-Usher asks her mother about her childhood. 

Three weeks ago, an Austinite known as Ez became internet famous. It’s a tempered fame, he says, and it comes in waves. About nine months ago, Ez rode a similar wave after he put a video on Reddit showcasing his interactive street art project he calls “Hyrule in Austin,” in which he creates a handful of “prizes” inspired by the Zelda videogame franchise, hides them in the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and unsuspecting Austinites find them in a wooden chest.

Skip Connett and his wife Erin Flynn are the owners of Green Gate Farms, an organic community farm in East Austin. They sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth recently to talk about their life together and how they ended up moving to Texas to become farmers. As a child, Erin never saw farming in her future, but for Skip, running a farm was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Hezekiah Lewis, President and CEO with the Black Heritage Network.

Founded in 2010, BHN.TV brings its viewers quality, relevant programming that reflects the African American experience. The founders believe that it was time to step up and create one TV channel whose single mission is to be the first and only full-time television destination for the real stories of African American  life in America. They believe that African American heritage is American heritage.

Mark Pickell, the artistic director for Capital T Theatre, first became aware of Dennis Kelly's dark comedy DNA several years ago; it'd been a big hit in London, but had been performed only once in America. He immediately knew he wanted to produce it with Capital T, but saved the script until he felt the time was right. 

When, as part of Capital T's "New Directions" program, Molly Karasch was set to make her Austin directorial debut, the time felt right. "When Molly came on board," he says, "I thought this would be a great fit for her." Karasch agrees, saying that "finding the humor in really dark things" is kind of in her wheelhouse.  

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