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This week from CPR’s Arts Bureau: Arts/pot crossover, Denver kids fulfill singing dreams & more
Colorado Public Radio

February 27, 2015

Andrew Wilkes plays Jimmy Harper in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's production of “Reefer Madness.” (Photo: Jeff Kearney)

Check out this week's in-depth coverage of the Colorado culture scene from CPR's Arts Bureau here.

With its production of the satirical musical “Reefer Madness,” the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is the latest in a fast-growing list of Colorado cultural institutions experimenting with pot industry partnerships. CPR arts reporter Stephanie Wolf examines why the state’s arts and pot scenes are getting cozy.

Three Denver fifth-graders beat out more than 3,300 children from around the country to sing with the National Honor Choir in Salt Lake City. CPR education reporter Jenny Brundin spoke with the students about why they love to sing.

Quentin Tarantino's "Hateful Eight" movie shoot continues to boost Telluride's economy, as evidenced by a Telluride tire shop's record sales. CPR arts reporter Corey H. Jones spoke with Telluride Tire owner Stuart Armstrong.

In 1925, Edith Lake Wilkinson was committed to an insane asylum, and her artwork was packed away in a trunk for 40 years. Fort Collins-based songstress Danielle Anderson, known onstage as Danielle Ate the Sandwich, recently scored a documentary about the artist. She talked with CPR's Ryan Warner about setting music to this sad story.

Colorado College senior Rebecca Celli answered five questions about her "Silenced Film Series," a series of talks and screenings she organized in Colorado Springs to highlight the inequalities within the film industry.

For the first time ever, a Colorado music festival received the “Music Festival of the Year” recognition at the Pollstar Concert Industry Awards in Nashville. Planet Bluegrass, which runs Telluride Bluegrass Festival, tells CPR it was an unexpected honor.

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts named Scott Shiller as its new CEO and president Thursday. Shiller, who has been executive vice president of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, will replace Daniel Ritchie. His tenure begins May 1.

Bluegrass musician Jake Schepps' latest album, "Entwined," features songs that veer between traditional sounds and contemporary classical. Schepps sat down with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner to talk about how contemporary classical composers inspired his latest tracks.

The City Council of Woodland Park, a small city in the Pikes Peak region, approved the installation of a 125-foot mural last week. CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman reports on how the artwork will use technology to connect visitors with the region's history seeped in Native American culture.

Arts happenings around Colorado this weekend: CPR’s Arts Bureau spotlights this weekend’s Colorado cultural happenings, including a musical rendition of the film "Big Fish," Estonian music, a West African festival and more.

Coverage from CPR's arts bureau is now also available as a weekly podcast via iTunes and the NPR podcast directory.

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This week from CPR’s Arts Bureau: Moving past apartheid, the music of 1968 and more
Colorado Public Radio

February 20, 2015

Handbill for Canned Heat at the Family Dog, March 27, 1968.
(Photo: History Colorado)


Check out this week's in-depth coverage of the Colorado culture scene from CPR's Arts Bureau here.

A viral racist video made by four white students at a South African university in 2008 inspired Donna Bryson’s debut book, “It’s a Black White Thing.” The former AP Johannesburg bureau chief, who now lives in Denver, spoke with Colorado Matters’ Elaine Grant about a nation still struggling to move past apartheid.

In 1968, bands like Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Big Brother & the Holding Company performed in Colorado. History Colorado’s Elisa Phelps gave Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner a rock history lesson and explained how this music reflected the social and political upheaval of the time.

Martin Luther King Jr. first heard “If I Can Help Somebody” at a Denver church in 1956. Vern L. Howard, chair of Denver’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission, told CPR’s Ryan Warner the story of how the hymn became one of King’s favorites. The Spirituals Project Choir will perform it at the Lakewood Cultural Center Sunday.

On Feb. 25, Colorado Public Television will debut “If Not Us,” a documentary about a project that uses storytelling to explore social and civic activism themes.

International music festival Bravo! Vail unveiled its 2015 season earlier this week. The concert lineup includes performances by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony, among others.

The Colorado Music Party will return to Austin for its third year to host an unofficial event happening alongside the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival. Colorado artists performing this year include In the Whale, Bonnie and the Beard, The Yawpers and more. Bands like Inner Oceans and SPELLS will also play the official festival.

Denver street artist Jolt is guest curating Westword's annual Artopia. The events combine art, music and fashion on Saturday at Denver's City Hall club. Jolt tells CPR News that he wants to bring the focus back to the art.

This summer, Colorado will get the first peak at new independent television shows looking to make it big on the small screen. The inaugural SeriesFest will screen pilot programs and other content from around the world and host panels during a four-day festival in Denver.

A destructive rampage carried out in Colorado in 2004 inspired a Russian film that's up for Best Foreign Language Film at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. "Leviathan" director Andrey Zviyagintsev spoke with CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman about adapting what he calls a universal story and adding a more Russian ending.

Arts happenings around Colorado this weekend: CPR’s Arts Bureau spotlights this weekend’s Colorado cultural happenings, including “Artopia,” winter bluegrass festivals, a world premiere at the Denver Performing Arts Center and more.

Coverage from CPR's arts bureau is now also available as a weekly podcast via iTunes and the NPR podcast directory.

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This week from CPR’s Arts Bureau: Kids sing in 14 languages, bluegrass frontman goes solo and more
Colorado Public Radio

February 6, 2015

Colorado Children's Chorale (Photo: Michael Hughes)

Check out this week's in-depth coverage of the Colorado culture scene from CPR's Arts Bureau here.

For the first time in its 84-year history, the Alpine World Ski Championships has a choir-in-residence -- the Colorado Children’s Chorale. CPR arts reporter Stephanie Wolf spoke with the young singers about the difficult task of learning 14 national anthems.

Mandolinist and songwriter Jeff Austin co-founded the successful bluegrass ensemble the Yonder Mountain String Band. He talked with CPR art editor Chloe Veltman about striking out on his own and hitting the road with his new solo album.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park recently held a contest seeking designs for a hedge maze inspired by the horror film “The Shining” to be built on one of its lawns. The hotel announced the winner on Thursday. CPR arts reporter Corey H. Jones covered the story.

Nick Urata of the Denver indie rock band Devotchka scored the music for the film “Paddington,” which opened on Jan. 16. He explains to Colorado Matter’s Elaine Grant how he crafted music to capture the many emotions imbued in this beloved childhood story about a bear who adores marmalade sandwiches.

As property values rise and activity booms in Denver's River North Arts District, artists are struggling to stay in the neighborhood they helped build. CPR arts reporter Corey H. Jones investigated how the city intends to keep the area affordable for artists.

Journalist-turned-dramatist Rick Padden’s play “Beets” is inspired by the real-life events that occurred on northern Colorado sugar beet farms during World War II. Padden spoke with CPR’s Chloe Veltman about how he adapted these stories for the stage.

Arts happenings around Colorado this weekend: CPR’s Arts Bureau spotlights this weekend’s Colorado cultural happenings, including a dulcimer music festival in Littleton and an exhibition of memorabilia and artifacts that flashback to 1968 at the History Colorado Center.

Coverage from CPR's arts bureau is now also available as a weekly podcast via iTunes and the NPR podcast directory.

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This week from CPR’s Arts Bureau: Hick’s cultural plan, history dramatized & more
Colorado Public Radio

February 2, 2015

German prisoners of war pose for a photo on a Niwot sugar beet farm in 1944. (Photo: Courtesy of Records of the Colorado Cooperative Extension, Colorado Agriculture Archive, CSU Morgan Library)

Check out this week's in-depth coverage of the Colorado culture scene from CPR's Arts Bureau:

CPR’s Arts Bureau joined Colorado Gov. John Hicklenlooper, who recently received the National Award for State Arts Leadership, at the State Capitol to ask him about his plans for the Colorado arts and culture scene in 2015. He tells CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman he intends to up the strategy rather than funding.

As property values rise and activity booms in Denver's River North Arts District, artists are struggling to stay in the neighborhood they helped build. CPR arts reporter Corey H. Jones investigates how the city intends to keep the area affordable for artists.

Journalist-turned-dramatist Rick Padden’s play “Beets” is inspired by the real-life events that occurred on northern Colorado sugar beet farms during World War II. Padden speaks with CPR’s Chloe Veltman about how he adapted these stories for the stage.

In this week’s Book Club segment, three award-winning Colorado authors -- Peter Heller, Helen Thorpe and Lisa Jones -- discuss some of their favorite South Asian authors.

Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR), a group devoting to derailing world-famous artist Christo’s project titled “Over the River,” filed a notice to appeal a federal court’s ruling that allowed the installation over the Arkansas River to move forward.

With help from Make-A-Wish Colorado, 14-year-old leukemia patient Gianella Falcon Escobedo will fulfill her musical aspirations and perform with the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall Friday night.

Denver's annual Kohaku Uta Gassen, a 40-year-old Japanese singing competition, pits two teams of men and women vocalists against each other. CPR’s Chloe Veltman examines the innovations the contest organizers are implementing to keep it going.

Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum appointed visual artist and former DEVO band member Mark Mothersbaugh as its first-ever guest curator.

Arts happenings around Colorado this weekend: CPR’s Arts Bureau spotlights this weekend’s Colorado cultural happenings, including a Western Slope folk ensemble performing in Ridgway and two one-act plays by South Asian-born Denver playwrights.

Coverage from CPR's arts bureau is now also available as a weekly podcast via iTunes and the NPR podcast directory.

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A Japanese Singing Competition Blooms In Colorado
NPR

January 24, 2015

Dancers performing at the 2015 Kohaku Uta Gassen in Denver (Photo: Chloe Veltman)



Listen to the story here.

At a Buddhist temple in downtown Denver, Junko Higdon is rehearsing a traditional song for one of the local Japanese community's biggest annual events.

Higdon is one of 30 amateur singers competing in two teams at this year's Kohaku Uta Gassen, which means, "red and white singing battle." "White is for the men, red is for the women and whoever gets the most points out the teams wins the trophy," she says.

Kohaku contests in the U.S., like the one held in Denver on Saturday, are spin-offs of a massive, annual singing event in Japan. Those competitions began shortly after World War II and spread to U.S. cities with large Japanese-American populations.

A Dying Tradition 

Japanese communities around the U.S. decided to replicate the original Kohaku, as a way to entertain first-generation immigrants, says Seiji Tanaka, who has been involved with the event since it started 40 years ago.

"This is a very traditional Japanese event," Tanaka says. "You don't have to leave Denver to enjoy one day [of] Japanese culture."

When many first-generation immigrants began to die years ago, Tanaka says most cities stopped producing the event. "We tried to continue to entertain ... but no audience," he says. "Just like fishing where no fish [are] there."

Although Denver has a Japanese population of fewer than 3,000, Tanaka felt an attachment to Kohaku, so he decided to change things up.

Finding a new generation of enthusiasts 

"We start finding new fish in the new generation people," he says.

The event now includes Japanese rock music, and English-language songs from musicals like Les Miserables.

The sing-off used to be the Denver event's biggest draw, but it now includes things like traditional Japanese dancing and Taiko drumming.

And it's also becoming more diverse.

Daniel Medina is one of the performers at this year's Kohaku. He met his band mate, lead singer Jin Kazama, on Craigslist.

"All of my Japanese knowledge came from video games of Final Fantasy," Medina says. "And then I just got lucky meeting Jin and getting to be surrounded by Japanese culture."

Tanaka says efforts to expand the event's offerings are paying off, but he's also nostalgic for the old days.

"Many older people cannot understand new pop-type music," Tanaka says. "But in order to keep going, we need to have that kind of balancing things."

And in order to keep Denver's Kohaku Uta Gassen going, Tanaka, 76, is now on the hunt for a successor.

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This week from CPR’s Arts Bureau: Sundance-bound Denver filmmaker, 'Shark Tank' for artists & more
Colorado Public Radio

January 23, 2015

Filmmaker Daniel Junge with collaborator Davis Coombe (Photo: Corey Jones)

Check out this week's in-depth coverage of the Colorado culture scene from CPR's Arts Bureau:

Denver filmmaker Daniel Junge makes his long-awaited premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah with his new film “Being Evel.” CPR arts reporter Corey H. Jones explores the documentarian’s diverse film career.

Inspired by the hit ABC series “Shark Tank,” the Denver Foundation has a new, unconventional platform for grantmaking. The “Colorado Art Tank,” asks cultural organizations to pitch their ideas before a live audience.

Denver is seeking applications for its first-ever Youth Poet Laureate. CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman spoke with Ken Arkind, director of youth slam poetry organization Minor Disturbance, about what the new position will entail.

Back in the day, Caribou Ranch near Nederland was a recording hideout for stars like Elton John, rock band Chicago and singer/songwriter Joe Walsh. As the auction for the property nears, Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner spoke with music producer James Guercio, who built the studio, and bassist Kenny Passarelli. You can also watch videos of famous bands and musicians performing hit songs they recorded at Caribou Ranch.

Estes Park artists and creative businesses are working on forming a new art association called Estes Arts Presents in a bid to become a state-certified creative district.

Fort Collins native and Colorado State University graduate Duncan Ramsay was a producer for the animated short “The Dam Keeper,” which recently received an Academy Award nomination in the “Best Short Film (Animated)” category.

Four people have been charged in connection with last summer’s theft of Dale Chihuly artwork from the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

After 28 years, Denver cafe Paris on Platte made its final sale last Saturday. Colorado Matters producer Michael de Yoanna visited the popular spot for poets and musicians as it said au revoir.

CPR’s Corey H. Jones spoke with Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre artistic director Nicki Runge about her Denver-based theater company and the upcoming Colorado Springs run of its original production “Six Woman in Search of a Perfect Play.”

In Denver-based performance troupe Curious Theatre’s latest show, “Charles Ives Take Me Home,” family tension is played out to the music of American modernist composer, drawing parallels between sport and art. Actors Dave Belden and Kate Berry performed a scene from the production in the CPR Performance Studio.

Chloe Veltman reports on a Japanese singing competition that's been a staple of the local Japanese cultural calendar for 40 years.

Arts happenings around Colorado this weekend: CPR’s Arts Bureau spotlights this weekend’s Colorado cultural happenings, including a cocktail and theater pairing in Longmont, an art exhibition exploring climate change in Boulder and more. CPR arts contributor Jeremy Brieske highlights the top upcoming events for Denver’s biennial celebration of fine art photography, Month of Photography (MoP).

 Coverage from CPR's Arts Bureau is now also available as a weekly podcast via iTunes and the NPR podcast directory.

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This week from CPR’s Arts Bureau: Mural painting, songs from nature and more
Colorado Public Radio

January 9, 2015

Blackbird and the Storm at CPR (Photo: Michael Hughes)

This week's in-depth coverage of the Colorado culture scene from CPR's Arts Bureau. Read more and listen online here.

After presenting classical, jazz and world music concerts at Denver clubs and cabarets for years, music promoter Jim Bailey is bringing his unconventional programming to Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts. CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman spoke with Bailey about his passion for unusual sounds and rarely-heard works.

A federal judge did not halt a plan by world-famous artist Christo to hang nearly six miles of fabric over the Arkansas River. Now, members of Rags Over the River (ROAR), a nonprofit opposing the project, say they are considering an appeal.

Colorado Springs 98-year-old muralist Eric Bransby shows no signs of slowing down, as he works on a new project he hopes to install at Colorado College in time for his 100th birthday. CPR’s Chloe Veltman examined Bransby’s extensive career and dogged determination to pursue his art.

The melodies and rhythms of birds are both the inspiration and instrumentation for Boulder band Blackbird and The Storm’s latest album, “The Water is Rising.” Lead vocalist Marie-Juliette Bird talks with CPR’s Chloe Veltman about what makes her songs distinct from other compositions motivated by birdsong.

Following the closing of its blockbuster Dale Chihuly exhibition, the Denver Botanic Gardens unveiled a new permanent sculpture by the famed glass artist Tuesday. On Jan. 13, Denver art enthusiasts will get the chance to experience a movie version of an exhibition currently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman explores this emerging trend and if the Denver Art Museum intends to take part in it.

On Saturday, Colorado-based Americana troupe the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. CPR’s Ryan Warner spoke with founding member John McEuen about why the band made its home here.

Denver presented new noise regulations for Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, including restricted sound levels during the full length of shows, in response to residents’ continued complaints. CPR arts reporter Stephanie Wolf examined the key changes laid out by the city.

The Nevada-based Western Folklife Center announced the winners of its YouTube cowboy poetry competition on Tuesday. Watch videos of the emerging young poets carrying on cattlemen’s tradition of verse.

Arts happenings around Colorado this weekend: CPR’s Arts Bureau spotlights this weekend’s Colorado cultural events, including a play starring a near-life-size puppet of Hollywood actor Tommy Lee Jones and an ice-climbing gathering in Ouray.

Coverage from CPR's arts bureau is now also available as a weekly podcast via iTunes and the NPR podcast directory.

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