Arts & Culture | KCUR

Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

In the 15th and 16th centuries, residents of towns and villages in England would gather together during the holiday season, while guilds produced short public plays called pageants.

Kansas City, MO – The Shearmen and Taylors' Pageant is one of only two surviving plays of the Coventry Cycle, from the town of Coventry, which became well-known for its lavish Christmas productions.

Photo: Steve Wilson (courtesy of Kansas City Ballet)

Richard Nixon was president when the Kansas City Ballet premiered its production of The Nutcracker, set to the music of Tchaikovsky. For thirty-six years running, audiences have been so swept up in the music and the movement that other crucial elements of the piece tend to get overlooked, and what would The Nutcracker be without its extravagant costumes?

The nominees for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards were announced Wednesday. And for the second year in a row, two choral ensembles led by conductor Charles Bruffy have been included.

Nine years ago, when Kansas native son Bobby Watson returned to the area from New York to head the UMKC jazz department, jazz fans had cause to celebrate.

Beth Harris, curator of education at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, talks with the director of the Rose Art Museum, Michael Rush, after his recent lecture on video art at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Kansas City, MO – Harris and Rush discuss the current state of the medium in relation to the Kemper Museum exhibitions Johanna Billing: Taking Turns and Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher: Reel to Reel.

Wine Master Doug Frost joined Up to Date host Steve Kraske for a pre-Thanksgiving wine tasting and conversation abotu pairing the right wine with the right food.

Kansas City, MO – Listen to the program

Visit the Up to Date show page

Once again, the Food Critics join The Walt Bodine show to tempt and tantalize with the last restaurant news.

Kansas City, MO – Listen to the program

Visit The Walt Bodine Show page

Restaurants from today's show

Avenues Bistro-338 W 63rd Street, Kansas City, MO 64113 (816) 333-5700.

For the late dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, dance was a way to celebrate and honor the African-American experience. The company Ailey founded, the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, marks its fiftieth anniversary this year.

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

Ailey Camp is one of the legacies of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. It's more than a summer camp for kids who want to dance. Alvin Ailey started the camp with the idea that dance could be a vehicle for growth and personal development among the community's youth.

photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

Kansas City artists who've been recognized by the Charlotte Street Foundation over the last 10 years will tell you that it helps their reputations and their bank accounts.

Kansas City, MO – This year, the organization expanded its definition of "artist" to include an actor and playwright, a dancer/choreographer, and a musician. KCUR's Steve Walker gathered the honorees together and found them to be equally flattered, humbled, and appreciative.

photo: Drew Bolton

Kemper at the Crossroads opened November 7, 2008, with the exhibition called Reel to Reel. Listen to the public's reactions to the artwork at this new space and watch the slideshow.

Kansas City, MO – Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher: Reel to Reel

November 7, 2008-January 11, 2009

Kemper at the Crossroads, 33 W. 19th St.

The Kansas City Symphony's new assistant conductor, Steven Jarvi, just started in August. At the age of 30, Jarvi's already held a number of positions, including most recently, conducting fellow for the New World Symphony in Miami, and associate conductor for the New York City Opera.

The bossa nova craze hit the US in the late 50's, and ever since then, that mellow Brazilian groove has been a standard part of many jazz musicians' repertoire. But when Kansas City musicians Stan Kessler, Doug Auwater, Danny Embrey and Greg Whitfield formed the Sons of Brasil in 1991, they were determined to dig deeper into the rhythmic soul of the country.

Listen in on The Food Critics as they discuss the good, the bad, and best spots for a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

KansasCity, MO – November 7, 2008
Gather 'round for The Food Critics as they talk about old and new area restaurants. In the second half of the show they ask the listeners for their favorite coffee and hot chocolate locations.

Listen to the program

photo: Drew Bolton and Margaret Keough

Kemper at the Crossroads, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art's third location, opened November 7 in the building formerly occupied by the Dolphin Gallery. The Dolphin is now located in the West Bottoms. Check here for a slideshow.

Kansas City, MO – Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher: Reel to Reel

November 7, 2008-January 11, 2009

Kemper at the Crossroads, 33 W. 19th St.

The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City got its start two years ago. That's when an all-star group of local jazz composers decided to do their own radical take on Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The mix of folk, popular and avant garde styles turned out to be so much fun that the musicians decided to stick together.

photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

Audiences at the Kansas City Symphony this weekend might spot a new yet familiar face. Charles Bruffy, artistic director of the Grammy award-winning Kansas City Chorale, debuts at the helm of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus as its new artistic director.

Kansas City, MO – Fri, October 24, 8 pm
Saturday, October 25, 8:00 pm
Lyric Theatre

Sunday, October 26, 2 pm
Yardley Hall

photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

Architect Moshe Safdie visited Kansas City on October 16, 2008 to walk through his Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, currently under construction. KCUR tagged along for the hard-hat tour.

So what's behind the walls surrounding Broadway and 16th Street? To the public it might just look like a big hunk of concrete. But inside the fence sit the foundations of two state-of-the art performance halls.

Credit: Michael Regnier

The new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is now slated to open for the 2011-2012 season. Here, Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern reflects on acoustics and expectations.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Symphony's Music Director Michael Stern says when the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opens "it will change...the way Kansas City experiences art."

Listen to the Food Critics to hear local restaurant news and reviews. Seasons change and with them our palate. Listen in for a conversation about favorite seasonal foods and where they can be found.

KansasCity, MO –

Listen to the program

Visit The Walt Bodine Show page

photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

Gamelan is the orchestral tradition of Indonesia and incorporates bronze gongs, metallophones, cymbals, bamboo flutes, fiddles, and drums. The region's first gamelan orchestra, Gamelan Genta Kasturi got its start five years ago and it's based in Kansas City. The group performs traditional and contemporary Balinese music and dance this weekend.

There's been a lot of progress at the site of the $405 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts since the 2006 groundbreaking. It's scheduled to open in fall 2011.

Kansas City, MO – Isaac Franco, project principal for Moshe Safdie and Associates, says the Center for the Performing Arts is expected to open in 2011. Franco says it's a complicated project. With a 1600 seat symphony hall, and an 1800 seat proscenium theatre, they want to open when the structures and the acoustics are ready.

In the first part of this conversation, artist Anthony Lepore talks to Kemper Museum curator Christopher Cook, and describes his personal interactions and relationships with his subjects. This marks the artist's first solo museum exhibition, Anthony Lepore: Restoration.

Kansas City, MO – Anthony Lepore Restoration October 3, 2008-January 4, 2009 Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Kemper Curator Christopher Cook and artist Anthony Lepore continue their conversation about Lepore's approach to photography and interactions with his subjects.

Kansas City, MO – Anthony Lepore Restoration October 3, 2008-January 4, 2009 Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Listen in for great restaurant suggestions from The Food Critics and listeners plus a discussion about where to comfort your belly with warm cold weather food.

KansasCity, MO –

Listen to the October 10, 2008 program

Visit The Walt Bodine Show page

The word "funny" isn't always the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ballet. The Kansas City Ballet opens its fall season with three works filled with humor and levity.

Kansas City, MO – Nearly a dozen arts organizations have signed on to a new online discounted ticket service that launched this month. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

In Chicago, it's Hot Tix. In New York City, it's TKTS. Now, Kansas City has The ticket service offers half-price, day-of-sale tickets to local performing arts shows, including theater, dance, and music, from the American Heartland Theatre to New Ear.

photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

It was 50 years ago this month that the Lyric Opera of Kansas City presented its first production, one of the most popular operas: Puccini's La boh?me. To mark the occasion, the company returns to the bittersweet love story set in 1830s Paris as this season's opener.

photo: courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City's Artistic Director Ward Holmquist calls La boh?me "one of the great operas of the Western world." Holmquist says when the Lyric discussed presenting the work again, he was "revitalized" by the film Rent to consider casting younger performers.

photo: flickr, Rock Chalk Jayhawk Cartographer

Kansas City, MO – The City of Kansas City Missouri has officially designated Tuesday, September 16 as Bob Rohlf Day, in honor of his nearly 3 decades of leadership at Starlight Theatre. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

During his tenure at Starlight Theatre, outgoing president and executive producer Bob Rohlf oversaw the construction of a new 10-story stage, and more than $32 million worth of facility and program improvements over the last 15 years.