News and Features

Saturday Spotlight – Out of Square Art Festival

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54504  Today in the Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re headed to Decatur for the Out of Square Art Festival. Local artists have sculpture, portraits, and photographs to display as well as demonstrations in ceramics and pottery. Texas musicians will be on hand to entertain as you peruse the art or participate in the children’s art area.

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In Houston, It’s ‘Alien’ Vs. The Rhinemaidens!

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rheingold2Catherine Martin as Wellgunde, Andrea Carroll as Woglinde, Christopher Purvis as Alberich and Renee Tatume as Flosshilde. Photos by Lynne Lane

The pinnacle of ambition for any opera company is to present Wagner’s epic Ring cycle — all of it. The Dallas Opera has done it twice, and now the Houston Grand Opera is having its turn.

Companies with enough cash or chutzpah present the four operas over a six-day span, with one-day breaks between Die Walküre, Siegfried and Die Götterdämmerung to give the poor singers’ vocal cords a rest. Houston, like Dallas, is spreading them out, one opera per year for four years.

Houston is currently presenting Das Rheingold to open its cycle. Ticket demand is heavy — the performance I attended on Thursday night was sold out — so anyone hoping to attend one of the two remaining performances, on April 23 and 26, may have a hard time getting in. Read More »

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The High Five: North Texas Pitmaster Competes On National BBQ Show

Five stories that have North Texas talking: A local barbecue guru competes on a national show; Glenn Beck expands his media empire; an earthquake hit Dallas Thursday; and more:

  • Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters” features three Texan grillers who are competing for the title of BBQ Pitmasters Texas Champion. Waxahachie pitmaster Matt Pittman of Meat Church will be featured on the show at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Destination America cable TV network. The show’s promotional team sends along this tantalizing preview for “Lone Star Smoke War:” “Not only does the winner have ultimate BBQ bragging rights, the winning team also has a shot at becoming the BBQ Pitmasters Grand Champion and walking away with a $50,000 grand prize. Pittman’s team, Meat Church, will battle against JD Davidsmeyer from JD’s Xtreme Team [in San Antonio] and Junior Urias from Up in Smoke [in Midland]. The three teams will have to impress BBQ experts and judges Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone and Big Moe Cason. Who will move on to the semifinals?” Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, has more tasty details. (By the way, what’s the best barbecue in Dallas-Fort Worth? Some experts have chimed in.) Here’s Pittman’s audition video:

  • Yes, there was an earthquake in Dallas Thursday afternoon. Did you feel it? The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that a 2.5 quake hit near the intersection of Northwest Highway and Stemmons Freeway around 2:45 p.m. Thursday, The Dallas Morning News reports. It was felt from Carrollton to Irving to northwest Dallas, The News reports. As you might recall, a swarm of earthquakes hit Azle and other towns northwest of Fort Worth late last year and earlier this year. Catch up on KERA’s earthquake coverage.


  • Glenn Beck continues to expand his media empire in Las Colinas. The Hollywood Reporter has the details. He’s “ramping up a film division” at Mercury Radio Arts, the parent company of his radio show and digital media operation TheBlaze. He has been refurbishing the 72,000-square-foot The Studios at Las Colinas, which he bought last summer. He told the Reporter that he’s developing three original series as theatrical films: “one set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third he considers ‘faith-based’ — and has optioned several other ideas, some of which could be adapted into VOD features. He adds that he has purchased rights to his 2008 best-seller The Christmas Sweater back from Sony and will turn the story into a movie for television or theatrical release.”
  • Mike Judge, the creator of “Office Space” and “King of the Hill” who once lived in Richardson, now has a new show on HBO, “Silicon Valley.” He explores what happens when young computer geeks become millionaires. Judge talked about the show on “Fresh Air” this week. (“Fresh Air” airs at 3 p.m. weekdays on KERA 90.1 FM.) “The tech world has become really interesting to me, especially in recent years,” Judge tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “Just knowing those types and seeing them suddenly have billions and billions of dollars — there’s just something funny about it to me,” he says, “and it’s something I hadn’t really seen explored that much.” Read more of the interview – and listen to it, too.
  • And have you seen the hilarious video featuring a Southwest Airlines flight attendant giving humorous instructions to passengers? Marty Cobb, a flight attendant based in Dallas, got lots of laughs from passengers with instructions like these: “It’s been a long day for me,” she said, asking folks to fasten and position their seat belts “tight and low across their hips” just like her “grandmother wears her support bra.” “I just enjoy making people laugh,” she told ABC. “I would never quit my job because I love what I’m doing too much, but if it could go further and do something on the side, that would be great.” She’s hoping to appear on the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” or “Ellen.”

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A Holy Week Revival

vermeer hi resThe Vermeer Quartet: violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi, cellist Marc Johnson, violinist Mathias Tacke and violist Richard Young.

For Easter, classical music groups often perform Bach’s St. Mathew’s Passion — just as they perform the Messiah at Christmas. But this Easter weekend, the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth is offering something different. It’s a less-well-known masterpiece, but as KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports, it also involves the reunion of a once-great string quartet.

  • KERA radio story:

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  • Online story:

The renowned Vermeer Quartet may not have had all the international, brand-name recognition of the Emerson or Guarneri or Tokyo quartets. But the Vermeer was nominated for three Grammys, and if ever a chamber music group was identified with a single masterwork above all – a signature piece – it’d be the Vermeer and The Last Seven Words of Christ by Franz Joseph Haydn. The Vermeer Quartet released their version in 1996. Richard Young, the group’s violist, recalls, “Immediately it was, well, kind of a hit. The very first week, Holy Week, they estimated that this recording was heard over the radio – and this was before streaming – by something like 50 million people. I mean, that’s amazing.”

One reason for the popularity and acclaim: The Vermeer included short recorded speeches by such figures as the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the Lutheran scholar Martin Marty. They did it because spoken homilies were part of the very first performance in the cathedral in Cadiz, Spain in 1786.

Read More »

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The Big Screen: USA Film Festival Preview

BigScreen_logoSMALLIn its 44 years, the USA Film Festival has become known as a festival that pulls in big name guests, and this year’s event fits that description. John Turturro and Ed Harris will each be showing new films this year, and Linda Gray and Dallas native Morgan Fairchild will be among the honorees receiving festival tributes.

It’s part of what USA managing director Ann Alexander calls the festival’s mission to present live cinema.

“We see no purpose, for example for this spring program, to present a film that we can’t bring in an artist with – especially a film that may open here later,” she tells us this week on The Big Screen. “For us, there’s no purpose to present them unless we can give the audience something different, which would be the artist in attendance. To have that exchange with the audience – what we call live cinema.”

Check out the full lineup for this year’s event on the Art&Seek calendar.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.

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The High Five: Ann Weisgarber, Texas Author, Talks Tonight About The Promise, Her New Book

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Romo and company make a ton of money; remembering the one-year anniversary of the West explosion; the latest on Ted Nugent; and more.

  • Ann Weisgarber, a Texas author who just published her second novel, The Promise, will talk at 7 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble, 7700 West Northwest Highway, Dallas. The Promise takes place in Galveston in 1900, when a hurricane killed thousands. She says she was inspired by an abandoned, dilapidated house on the rural end of Galveston and by an interview she conducted when writing an article for a local magazine. The Promise was recently named one of the nominees for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, a competition in the United Kingdom. Weisgarber has also written The Personal History of Rachel Dupree.
  • We already knew Tony Romo makes a lot of money. But did you know the Dallas Cowboys quarterback ranks No. 14 on a list of the 25 highest-paid athletes worldwide? ESPN The Magazine issued the list, which shows Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxer, in the No. 1 spot, earning $73.5 million a year. Romo earns $26.5 million a year. Endorsements aren’t included. In Major League Baseball, Texas Rangers’ Prince Fielder makes $24 million. In the NBA, Dallas Mavericks’ star Dirk Nowitzki earns $22.7 million. On the list of highest-paid NFL players, Romo ranks No. 6.
  • Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the day when West, Texas, changed forever. A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people. A memorial service, called West 4-17 Forever Forward, takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the West Fair and Rodeo Grounds. A moment of silence will be observed at 7:51 p.m., marking the time of the explosion. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao sat down with D Magazine’s Zac Crain, who is Facebook friends with just about half the city, and grew up just 500 yards from the fertilizer plant. NPR’s Wade Goodwyn recently visited West. “The widespread destruction in the town has raised questions about what, if any, new state laws should be passed to ensure that another chemical plant doesn’t explode where people live,” Goodwyn reported. Shortly after the blast, KERA’s Courtney Collins reported on nursing home employees who shielded their residents from the blast and pulled people from the rubble. She also wrote about her impressions of the town. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the people of West and their love for life and one another since I left there Thursday afternoon. The explosion at the fertilizer plant rocked the entire town. People were killed and injured. Homes were shattered. Residents lost their jobs and everything they owned. But that cold reality is clearly no match for the stunning warmth of spirit that colors the community.”
  • Did a bunch of police show up at Gun Barrel City’s only gay bar because it’s a gay bar? No, the owner tells the Dallas Observer. The bar, Garlow’s, was targeted because “we’re the No. 1 bar. We attract everybody,” owner Michael Slingerland told the Observer. On April 5, drag night at Garlow’s, police pulled into the parking lot and pulled over motorists for not using their turn signals. The police chief didn’t return a call from the Observer. Slingerland, who was arrested for public intoxication, said the police presence “was a fishing trip to see who’s been drinking and who hasn’t.”
  • Emails show that plans for a Ted Nugent concert in East Texas were canceled after the shock rocker drew criticism for calling President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” The Longview News-Journal reported that emails between Longview city officials show the concert was canceled a week after Nugent made headlines for divisive remarks that surfaced while he campaigned with Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Nugent apologized for the Obama slur. But a few days later, a city official sent an email to employees saying that the Longview city manager’s office had ordered the concert canceled because of the comments. Longview paid $16,250 to end contract negotiations. [Associated Press]

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Jane Smiley Visits The Writers Studio on Saturday

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Jane Smiley. Photo: Jack Canning

Jane Smiley. Photo: Jack Canning

Best-selling author Jane Smiley will join hosts Catherine Cuellar and Randy Gordon on The Writers Studio this Saturday. Tune in at 9pm to KERA FM to hear the conversation.

Smiley is the best-selling author of 13 works of fiction and three books of nonfiction, including The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Horse Heaven, and the 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, which was made into a major motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer. She has written for magazines such as Vogue, The New Yorker, Practical Horseman, Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine and the New York Times travel section, Victoria, Mirabella, Allure, The Nation and others. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 and is a three-time O. Henry Prize-winner for short fiction. Her latest novel, Private Life, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.

You can listen to previous Writers Studio interviews with Richard Price, Robert Olen Butler, Jay McInerney and Ann Patchett. We’ll add the conversation with Smiley on Monday. And tune in on April 26 when Marilynne Robinson visits The Writers Studio.

Our thanks to The Writers Garret,  which produces The Writers Studio.




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Flickr Photo Of The Week

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Congratulations to Marjan Smeijsters of Nijmegen, Netherlands, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! Marjan is a first time winner and follows last week’s winner,  Sara Elbayya.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

Now here’s more from Marjan:

Title of photo: Where is My Next Rendezvous?

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The Big Deal: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Coriolanus

BD shakes big

The AT&T Performing Arts Center and Shakespeare Dallas are collaborating to present all the works of William Shakespeare. In the series, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, every play and sonnet written by the Bard will be performed in staged readings in the intimate setting of Hamon Hall in the Winspear Opera House. The next production in this five-year partnership is Coriolanus. Ah, poor Coriolanus, the brave general but unsympathetic aristocrat, who must deal with the attacking enemy and his enemies at home, as well. Two Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers will receive a pair of tickets for the April 27 reading of the Shakespearean tragedy.

And while you are signing up for this Big Deal now is the perfect time to sign up for our other Big Deals this week – tickets to Fort Worth Opera’s Silent Night, or tickets to Casa Manana’s Peter Pan.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for your chance to win tickets to see the staged reading of Coriolanus at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!


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The Big Deal: Fort Worth Opera Presents ‘Silent Night’

One of Fort Worth Opera’s upcoming productions in their 2014 Festival will be Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Silent NightThe two-act opera is based on the 2005 French film, Joyeux Noel about the Christmas Eve truce between French, German and Scottish soldiers during WW 1. Silent Night had its world premiere in 2011 and the following year garnered first-time opera composer Puts a Pulitzer Prize. Check out the video above to hear a truly lovely piece from the Minnesota Opera premiere. The Fort Worth Opera will stage the regional premiere of Silent Night for two performances only. Win this Big Deal and win a pair of tickets to see the May 4, 2 p.m. performance at Bass Performance Hall.

And while you are signing up for this Big Deal you might be interested in signing up for our other Big Deals this week – tickets to see Peter Pan at Casa Manana, or tickets to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Coriolanus at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to see Forth Worth Opera’s Silent Night.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!

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