Arts & Culture

heritage.ky.gov

A Kentucky native with an important link to the Civil War era is being honored Saturday in Breckinridge County.

Joseph Holt served as Secretary of War in 1860 under President James Buchanan, and was named the country’s first Judge Advocate General by President Lincoln in 1862. Following Lincoln’s assassination, Holt served as the presiding judge in the trial of those accused of the murder.

Susan Dyer is president of the Friends of the Holt Home, which coordinates events at the house where Holt lived in Hardinsburg. She says many Kentuckians have never heard of the man who helped get the country through one of its most trying times.

“He had a lot on his shoulders because people wanted results, and they wanted somebody to pay," Dyer told WKU Public Radio. "And not only did the assassinate Lincoln, but it came close to wiping out Lincoln’s cabinet.”

The fifth annual Holt Home Community Day is being held Saturday in Hardinsburg, from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Guest speakers include Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Minton, and two Judge Advocate General officials.

Neil Sedaka

To say Neil Sedaka’s musical career got off to a fast start would be an understatement.

“I started writing at 13 years old and had hit records by LaVern Baker, Clyde McPhatter and Connie Francis,” said Sedaka. “And then when I was 19, I decided, rather than give away the songs to other singers, I auditioned for RCA Victor as a singer-songwriter and they signed me to a contract.”

But as quickly as his star rose, it fizzled in the 1960s, a decade of upheaval and cultural shifts.

“I was out of work for 12 years.  You know, the music business is very trendy and fickle.  I had the opportunity to meet Elton John when I was living in England and he was starting a record company and signed me. The first single, after 12 years, was ‘Laughter in the Rain’ and it went to No. 1 on the charts here in America,” he said.

Kevin Willis

On an unseasonably cool Friday afternoon in Owensboro recently, the sounds of an unusual summer camp were being heard in the city's downtown.

About 50 campers from across the country--and some from other countries--were in Daviess County to learn the finer points of one of the great instruments of bluegrass music during the eighth annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp.

Held at the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the camp is a three-day affair focusing exclusively on the instrument Bill Monroe played as he gained the reputation of being the "Father of Bluegrass Music."

"This is the only camp that I know of that specializes specifically on mandolin style. And it's no other instruments--it's all mandolin players, all Bill Monroe, all the time," says Mike Compton, the camp's director.

Compton is a Mississippi native who now lives in Nashville. He says it's an honor to be a part of a camp that pays tribute to an American musical genius.

Even those who don't consider themselves bluegrass fans are likely familiar with the name Bill Monroe. The Rosine, Kentucky, native gained acclaim for his technical wizardry on the mandolin, inspiring legions of fans throughout the U.S. and beyond.

Orchestra Kentucky

An iconic musician is coming to Bowling Green for a night of firsts with Orchestra Kentucky.

In the 1970s, Keith Emerson was part of the band Emerson Lake and Palmer, a group that often combined classical music and progressive rock , catching the ear of a young Jeff Reed.

“I was a teenager and because I loved classical music and rock music, I thought it was great to hear the combination of the two styles. I think they did a lot for classical music,” said Reed.  “They took it out of the concert hall and put it through vinyl and onto young people’s turntables.  They made it a little cooler and a little bit more accessible and I’m all for that.”

Flash forward to 2013 and Reed is now musical director of Orchestra Kentucky. On Monday at SKyPAC in Bowling Green, Reed's orchestra will take the stage with Emerson.

Nashville Symphony Musicians Agree to Pay Cuts

Aug 28, 2013
Nashville Symphony

The Nashville Symphony has reached agreement with the Nashville Musicians Association on a new one-year labor contract.

The pact reduces the pay of the musicians by 15 percent and is effective immediately.

The ratification comes after months of negotiations between the cash-strapped symphony and its performers. The pay cut is similar to that in total compensation imposed earlier upon members of the symphony administrative staff.

Violinist and union steward Laura Ross said the musicians ratified the contract because they believe their community role is important.

Symphony President & CEO Alan Valentine said the organization is grateful for what he termed the musicians' "spirit of shared sacrifice."

ebma.org

When you think of bluegrass and country music, places like Kentucky and Tennessee probably come to mind.

A scholar and musician who has been studying at WKU has another location for your list: Bulgaria.

Lilly Drumeva is a Bulgarian bluegrass and country musician who has been conducting research at WKU as part of her Fulbright Scholarship. During her time in Bowling Green, Lilly has worked closely with the WKU Folk Studies Department and Erika Brady, host of WKU Public Radio’s Barren River Breakdown.

Lilly will also travel to Nashville to research the business side of country and bluegrass music, as well as attend an international bluegrass conference in Raleigh, NC. She returns to Bulgaria in November, and will begin crafting her research into a Bulgarian-language book on bluegrass and country music.

She stopped by WKU Public Radio to talk to us about how she first encountered bluegrass music, and how the genre’s roots can be traced back to different part of Europe—including her native Bulgaria.

Marian McPartland, who gave the world an intimate, insider's perspective on one of the most elusive topics in music — jazz improvisation — died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. She was 95.

Centre College

A prestigious summer arts residency program for Kentucky high-schoolers is relocating to Centre College in Danville. The Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts has been held at Transylvania University for the previous fourteen years, but will move to Centre next summer.

The program hosts over 200 Kentucky high school sophomores and juniors for three weeks in the summer, offering master-classes, lectures, and hands-on workshops in nine disciplines, including creative writing, dance, instrumental music, and visual art.

Nearly 5,000 Kentucky high-schoolers have attended the GSA summer program since 1987, and 23 colleges and universities offer scholarships to program alumni.

A Bowling Green church building that first opened in the late 1800s has a new owner. But the future of the structure remains unclear.

The red-brick building that once housed Taylor’s Chapel AME church is surrounded on three sides by property owned by the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center.  In an auction Thursday afternoon, SKyPAC submitted a winning, $250,000 bid for the 141-year-old building on E. Seventh Avenue. 

The development director with SKyPAC tells the Daily News, they have no plans to tear down the building. In fact, the organization wants to restore it, but is awaiting an architect’s report on how much that will cost, before looking for someone to fund the restoration.

How do you fix a neighborhood? What do you do about crime and drugs and the once-lovely old houses that are falling down? The answer in Paducah, Ky., was to turn it into a special place for artists to live, work and sell.

Paducah, already home to the National Quilt Museum, is far west on the edge of Kentucky, on the Ohio River. Lowertown, so-named for being downriver from downtown Paducah, was once quite elegant — 25 square blocks. But in time it became a difficult place to admire.

The ex-wife of a former Kentucky lawmaker serving life without parole for murdering another woman is launching her book Wednesday.

Tracey L. Damron was married to former Rep. Steve Nunn, the son of the late former governor Louie B. Nunn, while he served in state government. A news release says the book, "Trail of Feathers," covers "love, death, murder, political power, deception, the supernatural and ultimately spiritual consciousness."

Nunn pleaded guilty to the 2009 death of his ex-fiancee.

The release says Damron, who lives part-time in Pikeville, now practices as a medicine woman, conducts spiritual retreats and attends spiritual workshops.

She is announcing the book's launch Wednesday morning on the steps of the Capitol in Frankfort and will attend book signings at bookstores in Frankfort and Glasgow on Wednesday and Thursday.

Carnegie Hall's Barnstorming Youth Movement

Jul 18, 2013

This is the kind of opportunity most classical musicians can only dream about: to be invited to spend part of the summer with an orchestra touring the world — Washington, Moscow, St. Petersburg and London — with two of the biggest names in classical music, conductor Valery Gergiev and violinist Joshua Bell.

Joe Corcoran, WKU Public Radio

The estate manager of the Baker Arboretum in Bowling Green says more will be known within the next two weeks about paintings damaged during a recent fire.

The fire broke out the morning of June 27 in the building housing the world’s largest collection of paintings by the late artist and Hart County native Joe Downing.

Estate manager Craig Cunningham told WKU Public Radio Tuesday that a group of art restoration experts from different parts of the country will arrive within the next two weeks to assess what can be done to salvage paintings that suffered smoke and water damage.

Nobody was injured during the fire. Estate employees raced into the burning building to rescue the paintings from the flames.

All over the country on Thursday, fireworks will light up the sky. In many places, those fireworks will come with a patriotic soundtrack — one that wouldn't be complete without "The Star-Spangled Banner." The song officially became America's national anthem in 1931, but it's been around since the early 19th century.

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