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URBANA – In one of his latest mass e-mails, musician David Lang of the Bang on a Can All-Stars sent Midwesterners this message:
"We know where you live! Julie and I are really excited about our upcoming trip to the marathon we're throwing at the Krannert Center in Urbana! Michael has an opera premiering, so he is sorry he can't make it, but the rest of us are really looking forward to playing a bunch of music, hearing a bunch of music, chatting for hours in the lobby with everyone, eating too much, staying up late. We are bringing a bunch of our friends. It would be great if you did, too! See you there? I hope so!"
University of Illinois music Professor Ian Hobson will help the Chicago Symphony Orchestra kick off its "Beyond the Score" series Sunday with its in-depth look at composer Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."
He also will perform "Pictures," on piano, at 5:45 p.m. in Buntrock Hall as part of the Symphony Center's annual free music marathon, Macy's Day of Music, from 2 to 10 p.m. at Orchestra Hall.
CHAMPAIGN – By the late 1970s, Zora Neale Hurston's novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God," had been largely forgotten – except by one scholar who thought it was worth reprinting.
He contacted Richard Wentworth, then director of the University of Illinois Press. He agreed and in 1978, the Press took the risk and reprinted "Their Eyes," with an introduction by the scholar, Robert Hemenway.
While university presses don't normally originate fiction, one of their functions is to examine the American literary heritage for neglected works. The UI Press does that, mainly with Illinois and Midwestern authors.
Fiction, though, is not the bailiwick of the UI Press, which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary. It is scholarly books and academic journals. The UI Press publishes 120 to 140 new titles each year and 30 journals, most notably the American Journal of Psychology," founded in 1887 by G. Stanley Hall. Three UI Press journals are online only.
DANVILLE – Before they both retired from teaching at Danville Area Community College, Janet Cornelius challenged her friend, Martha Kay, to write a book with her.
"I thought it would be something worthwhile to do instead of just retiring off into the sunset," said Kay, a former rhetoric professor at DACC.
Now, a decade later, the University of South Carolina Press has published their book, "Women of Conscience, Social Reform in Danville, Illinois, 1890-1930."
CHAMPAIGN – They're young, sexy and good-looking and play country music. Ergo, the three female front players for Tin Horse are often compared to the Dixie Chicks.
But that comparison comes only from people who haven't heard Tin Horse, who will perform at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Kam's, 618 E. Daniel St., C, as part of the band's Horses Gone Wild tour.
"Turn around!" my wife squeals. "There's a plane crash back there!"
She's not kidding. But Richard Pollard is.
Pollard, owner of Pollard Motor Sales on Illinois 37, just north of Salem in south central Illinois, does indeed have an airplane planted nose-first in his backyard. It's first-rate yard art. Besides the plane, which is set in concrete, he has a "bumper crop" – an assortment of more than 300 chrome car bumpers growing out of the ground. And there's the "pot rod," a riding lawn mower equipped with a toilet, a giant ladybug (a Volkswagen Beetle with six metal legs sprouting from it) and more.
I love this guy. And I love this kind of stuff: Roadside architecture.
CHAMPAIGN – The Prairie Ensemble will open its 12th season on Friday with "A Post-Summer Potpourri" of music from three of the greatest composers of the 20th century, plus a virtuoso romp from one of the greats of the 18th.
The concert starting at 7:30 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 1710 S. Prospect Ave, C, will showcase works by Zoltan Kodaly, Jean Sibelius, Dmitri Shostakovich and Franz Joseph Haydn. As usual, music director Kevin Kelly will give a pre-concert conversation at 7 p.m.
CHAMPAIGN – Author David Jauss will begin the 2008-09 Robert J. and Katherin Carr Visiting Authors Series at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Author's Corner on the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St., C.
The talk is free and open to all, and sponsored by Creative Writing Program in the University of Illinois Department of English.
As the booking agent for his son's Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Tom Duncanson often updates the musicians on the number of shows they have done.
"He will show up and tell us, 'This is your 900th show.' He gets on the microphone and announces it and gets all crazy," said Andy Duncanson, who founded the band in 2000, when he was a student at Centennial High School.
On Wednesday evening at the Iron Post in Urbana, if the band allows it, Tom Duncanson will announce that it's Kilborn Alley's 1,000th show – not counting weddings, picnics, house parties, fish fries and barbecues.
ROSSVILLE – The Rossville Sesquicentennial Committee is seeking photographs of the area for a publication in conjunction with the town's 150th anniversary.
Historical images of buildings, street scenes, transportation, homes, farms, churches, civic groups and activities are being sought, as well as photos of families in their 1959 centennial costumes.