News and Features

10 Songwriters Win Spots In Richardson’s Wildflower! Arts And Music Festival

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z If you start seeing wildflowers on the side of the road then it must be time for Richardson’s Wildflower! Art & Music Festival.  The festival runs May 16-18 at Galatyn Park in Richardson. In the 22 years since the event began it has grown to be quite the musical destination attracting local and national acts. The festival also fosters independent singer-songwriters with a songwriting competition. The panel of judges just released the names of the Top 10 finalists who will perform during the 3-day festival. The full press release is below.

RICHARDSON, TX–APRIL 22, 2014 – The City of Richardson’s 22nd annual Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival, North Texas’ largest music festival, has announced the top 10 finalists for the award-winning Performing Songwriter Contest. Interestingly, while three are from Texas, four are from Maine.  Their names, and details, after the jump.

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Q&A: John Turturro Talks USA Film Fest Opening Night Film ‘Fading Gigolo’

John Turturro 1

Photo: Andy Taylor

The USA Film Festival opens tonight with Fading Gigolo. John Turturro wrote, directed and stars in the film about a man who takes up an unlikely second career. And he stopped by KERA this morning for a chat.

Among the highlights:

On how he got Woody Allen to act in the film…

“I thought Woody and I could be interesting as a team playing opposite of each other, and I suggested it to my hair cutter – Anthony, his name is, who’s Woody’s hair cutter. And he was brave enough – I don’t know if I asked him or told him, ‘Hey, if it comes up naturally, whatever…’ And Woody really, really liked it.”

On his directing style …

“I talk when I have to. … If I had nothing to say, I don’t say anything.”

On the fulfillment he gets from directing …

When I’ve had great roles, you get a fulfillment from that. But this, you know, you’re in every part of the film. And you are really confronted with yourself.”

Listen to the interview here:

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Turturro will take part in a Q&A session tonight after the USA Film Festival screening of Fading Gigolo. The movie opens in Dallas on May 2.

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Artistic Director Jonathan Pell Will Step Down At Dallas Opera

Jonathan-Pell-in-DallasJonathan Pell joined the Dallas Opera in 1985 as artistic administrator and was appointed artistic director in 2009 — only the second to hold that post in the company’s history. He will no longer be working full-time beginning this December but will continue to contribute to the company.  He helped move the company from Fair Park to the Winspear Opera House, worked on 162 productions of 97 operas for the Dallas Opera, and singers who debuted with company – at Pell’s invitation – include Renee Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Ben Heppner and Denyce Graves.

The full release:

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The High Five: Dallas Public Library Celebrates National Poetry Month With ‘The Swing’

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: how many Texans text while driving?; University of Texas at Dallas alums score big on “Shark Tank;” Wichita Falls is short on water; and more.

  • April is National Poetry Month and the Dallas Public Library’s Arcadia Park Branch is celebrating at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday with a reading of “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson. “As you listen to this beloved, well-known poem, close your eyes and imagine the motion of a swing, recalling a pleasant memory or remembering what it felt like to be carefree with the wind against your face and blowing through your hair. With the guidance of master storyteller Alfreda Rollins, translate this feeling into a poem and create a vision board that reflects your experiences as keepsakes to take home.”
  • Texans love to text while driving. Three out of four Texans at least occasionally speak on a cellphone while driving and nearly half sometimes read or text while driving, according to a study released Monday of 3,000 drivers by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The Texas Tribune reports: The institute surveyed drivers in April and May 2013 at 12 state driver’s license offices around the state about their driving habits. The researchers found that 76 percent of drivers said they had talked on a cellphone while driving at least once in the previous month, with 24 percent acknowledging that they did so regularly. Forty-four percent of respondents said they had read or typed texts or emails while driving, and 18.5 percent said they had looked at Facebook or other websites while driving.
  • Two University of Texas at Dallas alums emerged from the “Shark Tank” with a $350,000 deal with entrepreneur (and Dallas Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban to take their smartphone-controlled light bulbs to the next level. UT-Dallas sends along the details: Corey Egan and Swapnil Bora appeared on Friday’s show. They developed the idea for their Plano-based business, ilumi, while at UTD. Ilumi makes LED “smartbulbs” that allow users to control lighting levels and colors through a mobile app. Users can program lights to create a sunrise effect or romantic candlelight. “Mark’s just going to be just like fuel on the fire,” Egan said in an interview on the show. “This thing is going to spread like wildfire and ilumi’s going to shine across the world.” Here’s a clip from the show:

 

  • Dallas police say a man was fatally shot Monday afternoon after he pointed a gun at officers during a standoff following a car chase. The chase began when officers tried to take Michael Mayo into custody after learning he had felony warrants for his arrest. Dallas Police Deputy Chief Gil Garza says Mayo led officers on a 30-minute chase through south Dallas before ending up in a Southwest Center Mall parking lot. Garza says that during the standoff with officers, the 30-year-old Mayo got out of his vehicle and pointed a gun at his head. Mayo then went back in his vehicle but later got out again and then pointed his gun at officers, who fired at Mayo. No officers were hurt. [Associated Press]
  • Wichita Falls is so far behind on rainfall that city leaders are asking state regulators for permission to use treated toilet flushes as drinking water. The city is about 34 inches behind on precipitation over the past three years. It’s awaiting state regulatory approval of a system that would re-use wastewater, a small amount coming from flushes. The two lakes that serve Wichita Falls are just 26 percent full. City leaders are also considering rare restrictions on outdoor watering for swimming pools and car washes. It’s already cloud seeding to try to squeeze more out of rain clouds. A West Texas water supplier garnered attention in 2011 when it began constructing a wastewater re-use plant in Big Spring that’s similar to what Wichita Falls wants. [Associated Press]

 

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The High Five: Emerson String Quartet Performs Tonight At SMU

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Has a missing woman’s remains been discovered?; remembering William Blair Jr., Dallas is a basketball and hockey playoff team (at least for now); and more:

  • For nearly 35 years, no one has been able to find Helen Holladay after she fought with her husband. Last week, authorities went to Lake Granbury to pull out a truck. Inside: a skeleton. Hood County authorities say they found identifying information that ties the skeleton and truck to Holladay. Credit the ongoing drought for making it easier to spot the truck. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “Low lake levels brought on by the drought revealed the pickup’s resting spot. At normal lake levels, the area where the vehicle was found would have been in 15 to 16 feet of murky water and about 15 feet from the normal shoreline.” A Granbury city employee saw a vehicle sticking out of the lake. Holladay was last seen alive in 1979, when neighbors said she’d been in a blood struggle with her husband, Herman Holladay at a home on Lake Granbury, the Star-Telegram reports. Helen Holladay was declared dead in 1986. Her husband died later. Authorities will use DNA samples provided by Holladay’s daughters to identify the remains, the newspaper reports. In a separate case, in South Dakota last week, authorities announced that the drought revealed a missing car and the remains of two missing teenagers who hadn’t been seen in more than 40 years.
  • William Blair Jr., founder of the DFW Elite News and a civil rights advocate, has died. He was 92. WFAA-TV reports: “The Dallas native graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and began his career as a pitcher in Negro League baseball in 1946. Blair launched Southwest Sports News in 1949, a newspaper that specialized in reporting on African-American collegiate games. The weekly newspaper was renamed Elite (pronounced “E-light”) News in 1960 and expanded its coverage to other issues focusing on the black community. Blair helped establish the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Dallas, and attended the most recent event in January.” A city park was named in his honor. The Dallas Morning News has more.
  • Dallas is both a basketball and hockey playoff town – at least for now. The Dallas Mavericks blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter Sunday to lose to the San Antonio Spurs, 90-85, in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. (Game 2 is Wednesday.) San Antonio won despite going three for 17 on 3-pointers and getting only 23 points from its normally potent bench, ESPN reported. “The Spurs held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes,” ESPN said. “The Mavericks also went scoreless for 5½ minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming with less than a second remaining.” In the other playoff series, the Anaheim Ducks beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 Friday night. The Ducks have a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Game 3 is Monday night in Dallas. CBS Sports reports: “Rookie Frederik Andersen made 34 saves in his second postseason start, and Andrew Cogliano scored a short-handed goal in the third period before the Ducks survived Dallas’ late flurry to move halfway to their first series victory since 2009.”
  • The housing market in North Texas is hot, hot, hot. It’s so hot that if you’re selling a home, be prepared to have a place to live – because it’s likely to sell quickly, according to a new national survey issued by the Redfin Research Center. Dallas is ranked No. 5 on a list of the country’s fastest housing markets in March. In Dallas, 14 percent of homes sold within three days. Fort Worth is ranked No. 8. Slightly more than 10 percent of Fort Worth homes sold within three days. Read more from KERA News.
  • The Dallas Chamber Music Society welcomes the Emerson String Quartet to SMU’s Caruth Auditorium at 8 p.m. Monday. The concert includes works by Mozart and Mendelssohn. Over three decades, the quartet has produced more than 30 acclaimed recordings, and received several awards, including nine Grammys, three Gramophone Awards and the Avery Fisher Prize. Here’s a sampling: Dvořák’s “String Quartet No. 11 in C major.”

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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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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.

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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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