Hobson in spotlight as director, pianist for Sinfonia da Camera

URBANA – Ian Hobson will wear two hats at the Sinfonia da Camera concert Saturday evening at Krannert Center. He will conduct the chamber orchestra and perform as pianist for Frederic Chopin's concerto.

Hobson, also the University of Illinois Swanlund Professor of Piano and the Center for Advanced Studies professor of music, is marking the bicentenary of Chopin's birth with a series of concerts in Lockport and the release of a 16-volume series of recordings of the composer's piano works.

UI prof chose lesser-known expressionist paintings for stamps

CHAMPAIGN – Asked to select 10 abstract expressionist paintings to be depicted on U.S. postage stamps, University of Illinois art history Professor Jonathan Fineberg tried to pick ones that were famous, characteristic of the genre, and not in the collections of predictable museums like the Metropolitan in New York.

He chose works that belong to perhaps lesser-known institutions, among them the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., where he is a trustee, and Krannert Art Museum on the UI campus, where he is the Gutgsell Professor of Art History.

Studio Visit: Miriam Martincic, 35, of Champaign

Q: How long have you been at Parkland College?
I'm not at Parkland anymore. I finished teaching my last class in December. I had taught for nine years and been at Parkland for five. I now work part time at Wolfram Research doing graphic design. I do freelance graphic design as well.

Q: I love your drawings (on view through April 3 at Cinema Gallery, Urbana). What media do you use?
These are mostly pen drawings. I use fine-nibbed Rapidograph pens and I also use gouache. I love gouache. The color is just flat.

Studio Visit: Stephen Cartwright, 37, of Urbana

Q: Is that ShopBot Router yours or the university's?

A: It's the university's but I got a UI Research Board grant to buy it. It's a numerically controlled computer so you can put any kind of line drawing into it and tell it to cut in or on the outside of the lines or tell it to cut in a certain depth.

Q: Did you use it for your big project "Trajectory"?

Ebert to appear on 'Oprah' on Tuesday with new 'voice'

Urbana native Roger Ebert will appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Tuesday, using a new text-to-speech computer-software generated voice based on his own.

Ebert told The News-Gazette on Friday via e-mail that he calls his new voice "Roger Jr."

"I'm writing a blog that will tell all," he added.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic posted last week at Twitter that he had taped an "Oprah" segment and it was to air on Tuesday. Locally, the program airs at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday on WCIA Channel 3.

March 6 fundraiser benefits victims of earthquake in Haiti

A "Hearts for Haiti" event next weekend will raise money for victims of the January earthquake with music, improvisational performances and a raffle.

The fundraiser – organized by local community members and backed by the American Red Cross Central Illinois chapter – is scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. March 6 at Class Act, 114 S. Neil St., C, a theater company with interactive performances and education.

The lineup includes performances by CU Theatresports Comedy Improv, Mordechai in the Mirror, Ryan Groff from Elsinore, and Duke of Uke.

'Road Rules' in play during (mostly outdoor) adventures out West

Based on 30 years of cross-country vacations and inspired by some of the best road-trip books ever written, we've developed some Road Rules that never let us down:

– Don't travel on interstate highways if you can help it.

– Eat locally grown food and drink locally brewed beer.

– Stay in historic hotels and quirky B&Bs.

– Always try at least one new thing along the way.

– Get as far away as you possibly can from other people for at least part of each day.

– Keep a journal.

UI grad's work for Fox leads to award-winning Jimmy John's career

CHAMPAIGN – Dan Mall was doing part-time landscaping and maintenance work for Fox Development when Peter Fox tapped him to help run a new Jimmy John's franchise.

That was in 2001, when Mall was getting ready to graduate from the University of Illinois.

Nine years and 18 stores later, Fox and Mall's franchise has been named Operator of the Year by the Champaign-based sandwich shop chain.

Abraham Inc. a 'very, very special mix' of klezmer, funk, hip-hop

URBANA – Virtuoso clarinetist David Krakauer has mixed musical styles for a long time now.

Suffice it to say there's nothing like his latest fusion venture, Abraham Inc.

The band mixes klezmer, funk and hip-hop to create some of the maddest music around.

Krakauer calls Abraham Inc. a "very, very special mix of music" and "kind of a great adventure for us" – the three principal players:

Abraham Inc. trombonist to play show with Beat Kitchen

CHAMPAIGN – After the Abraham Inc. concert on Tuesday evening at Krannert Center, the legendary trombonist Fred Wesley will join the local nine-piece band Beat Kitchen at 10 p.m. at Cowboy Monkey in downtown Champaign.

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