Communique with Gina Gambony

Monday - Friday at 8:50 am and 4:44 pm on 91.3 and at noon on 92.7

Gina Gambony hosts Communique, a daily feature exploring arts, events, and ideas in the Cape Fear Region. She interviews artists, actors, dancers, writers and creators of community happenings—all the inspiring movers and shakers who enrich our lives.

Communique airs on 91.3 FM during Morning Edition at 8:50 am, on All Things Considered at 4:44 pm, and on Classical HQR 92.7 at noon.

Please send requests for interviews to classical@whqr.org.

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Madi Polera holds a Master's Degree in Marine Biology. For her, the DC-based March For Science is like a Lollapalooza for alternative music lovers. The main march is based in Washington, DC on April 22 (Earth Day), but over 500 satellite science celebrations are happening worldwide. Polera and two scientist friends decided to bring the event to Wilmington: Wilmington March for Science. Although Polera's scientific career is in the water (mainly the Cape Fear River), she is an advocate for sciences of all stripes because of the underlying method they all share. Listen above. 

Photo: Maud Kelley

Maud Kelley says she has always loved animals. She grew up on a farm and she now lives and works at Greenlands Farm in the Hamlet of Half Hell, a community in Brunswick County (basically, part of Bolivia). The farm animal sanctuary on Greenlands Farm began in 2011; the program expanded with the non-profit organization created last year: HOOF (Helpers of our Farm). It's directed by Maud, and she is throwing an Art Gala Fundraiser on Saturday, April 22, 6:30pm-8:30pm to support the sanctuary and the educational programs it offers.

Author and scholar Dr. Laura Lunsford is the director of the Swain Center in the Cameron School of Business at UNCW. Lunsford has a background in psychology and human development and her specialty is mentoring. She is a member of the International Mentoring Association; she convinced the Board of the Association to hold its 29th Annual Conference in Wilmington this year. 

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The world of classical music is so vast, even experts like Wilmington Symphony Orchestra conductor Steven Errante stumble upon new pieces all the time. One piece that recently came into Errante's purview is by Cuban composer, conductor, and guitarist, Leo Brouwer (born in 1939 in Havana). The piece is Brouwer's Concerto #3, Elegiaco. Julian Bream (for whom the piece was written) premiered the piece in London in 1986. Errante invited guitarist Justin Hoke to join WSO to perform this piece for the Season Finale concert on Saturday, April 22nd at the Wilson Center. The concert begins at 7:30 and includes Smetena's Moldau and Shostakovich's The Gadfly as well. Here are program notes for the concert.

New Hanover County Arboretum

Valerie DeSanti and Jay Denmark are two Master Gardeners from the New Hanover County Master Gardeners organization. They've been growing seeds and bulbs with other Master Gardeners since the beginning of the year in preparation for the spring Plant Sale at the New Hanover County Arboretum. Complete list of plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, and vegetables is available here. 

Marvel Comics

Pineapple Shaped Lamps, or PSL, is a performance troupe known for comedy-and perhaps oddity; the PSL players are not known for drama or tragedy. But the group is taking on a dramatic (maybe tragic) tale: the rise and fall of comic book artist and author Jack Kirby: King Kirby, onstage at Red Barn Studio Theatre on 3rd Street April 13-30. Jack Kirby created comics for Marvel, then DC, then Marvel again, spanning the late 1950s through the late 1970s. He created or co-created Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, X-Men, and more. Listen to Director Blake Howard and actor Bryan Cournoyer talk about the play above. 

Attorney Joan Keston practices Elder Law with offices in Wilmington and Southport She was a legal consultant and business attorney until she had to manage her husband becoming ill her parents' aging. She learned some lessons the hard way and switched her focus to Elder Law. Joan offers free seminars called Life Care Planning, an Integrative Approach to Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Asset Protection.  Listen above to hear Joan talk about misunderstandings, Power of Attorney, and scams directed at the elderly. 

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Dram Tree Shakespeare presents The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare's shortest play--and according to director Kathryn "KC" MacMillan--his funniest comedy for modern audiences. KC is a guest director from Philadelphia; she has set the show in the early 20th century with a Vaudeville theme. Listen to KC give a brief overview of the story and talk about the common roots of Shakespeare and Vaudeville above. 

Zach Hanner

Director Zach Hanner says author Clyde Edgerton was inspired to write the novel Killer Diller by experiences in his own life, including a place where he lived in Durham where a halfway house, a diet center, and a church were all the street where he lived. Theatre Now presents Killer as a play on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00pm through April 29. 

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The day the Lower Cape Fear Coin Club (LCFCC) visited WHQR, I decided to bring my grandfather's coin collection. It meant a lot to my mom, but frankly, I don't know much about old coins. In striking contrast, these folks know a A LOT about coins. Listen to president Ray Flanigan and members Karen Forest and Jim Savage above. LCFCC's annual Coin Show is this weekend and runs in conjunction with the 70th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival. 

Todd Berliner is a Professor of Film Studies at UNC-Wilmington. He received his PhD at Berkeley, he's received 2 Fulbright Scholar awards, and he's a Fellow of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image. Berliner is a deep thinker about film, and his new book, Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema, is not a typical coffee table book. Still, the topic is film, something accessible to everyone.     

Caroline Butler

Surely you're already suspecting that the Azalea Festival is nigh-whether you've seen it with your eyes or felt it in your sinuses. This weekend is indeed the 70th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, and the Azalea Garden Tour kicks off on Friday, April 7th with the Ribbon Cutting and Queen's Garden Party​, complete with Azalea Belles, horse-drawn carriages, the Queen herself, and dozens of cookies. 

Mark Steelman/Thalian Association

As an actor and singer with a belt, Katherine Vernon has admired the character "Rose" (and Ethel Merman, who premiered it) for a long time. She landed the role with Thalian Association, and she can be seen onstage at Thalian Hall through April 9. The play is "Gypsy," the true story of burlesque strip-tease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee ("Louise" as a child). Rose is her mother, and her character has been called the most complex musical theatre role available to women. The musical itself has received high praise; it's based on the memoir Gypsy wrote about growing up with her mother and her more-talented sister, June. Listen to Katherine Vernon talk about the role and the musical above. 

UNCW Theatre Department

Professor Robin Post is directing the upcoming show from UNCW's Theatre Department: the classic 1934 play, The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman. The play was controversial in the United States and Great Britain in the '30s, and in a way, it still could be controversial in some circles. Robin says the themes are as relevant as ever. 

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The Sea Notes Choral Society is 43 years old this year. According to Vice President and singer Tom Wisniewski, the group is stronger than ever. There are 150 singers on the rolls and a waiting list to join of about 2 years--except for Tenors. These, Tom says, could be pulled off the street to join. The Sea Notes Spring concert, Everything's Coming Up Roses, is Saturday and Sunday, April 1 & 2, at Odell Williamson Auditorium. Both performances are at 3:00pm and free. 

Phil Bruschi

It sounds a lot like Neil Diamonds, but it's Phil Bruschi expressing the feel of Neil.

Phil Bruschi is a musician, singer, vocal stylist, and music educator. He presents Neil Diamond: Singer, Songwriter, a biographical and musical program focused on Diamond's career and music, at the Northeast Library on Sunday, April 2, 2:00pm-4:00pm. The program is free. 

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Shaun Mitchell is a published poet and the author of several plays. He also has a strong interest in history-the subject of most of his theatrical work. After Shaun wrote the play I, Constantine, he intended to focus his attention on Emperor Theodosius. That changed when he heard about the 6th century peasant who was an actress and prostitute before her fortunes changed: Empress Theodora. 

Wiliam Neil

Pro Musica, under the artistic direction of Robert Nathanson, presents its 6th concert celebrating new music and works of living composers. On Thursday, March 30 at 7:00pm, composer William Neil will perform with the group at the Cameron Art Museum. Neil will begin the concert by performing short compositions on the piano, followed by the premiere of Neil's Out of Darkness Into Light. The piece will be performed by guitarist Nathanson, Soprano Nancy King, saxophonist Laurent Estoppey, violinist Danijella Zezelj-Gualdi, and contra bassoonist Helena Spencer. Composer William Neil will accompany with digital acoustics. 

nCino.com

We recently heard from Smart Start of New Hanover County about the First 2000 Days Summit, addressing foundational skills children learn in their first 5 years. Smart Start is now holding the Pledge Breakfast for Children's Champions, its annual fundraiser-Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30am, Hilton Riverside. Executive Director Jane Morrow and Board Member Randy Reeves joined us; listen above. The keynote speaker for the Breakfast this year is Pierre Naudé, CEO of Wilmington banking software company, NCinoThe topic of discussion will be the importance of early childhood development in the current and future workforce, with particular focus on STEAM, which is like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), but with the addition of Arts. 

Carolina Chamber Symphony

Wilmington's Tallis Chamber Orchestra has a special performance on Saturday, March 25th at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Tallis received funding through the Landfall Foundation to bring a guest artist to town for the performance and for community enrichment through orchestra classroom visits and a Master Class. That guest artist is violinist Jacqui Carrasco, an international soloist and chamber musician from Wake Forest University.

The Supper Club/pinterest

According to my sources from the Cape Fear Museum, interest and nostalgia about the 1950s is trending. The Smithsonian Institute is tapping into this with an exhibit called Patios, Pools and the Invention of the American BackyardThis traveling exhibit will be up at the Cape Fear Museum through August. Frankly, the appeal of this topic wasn't immediately obvious to me until Terry Prior, Collections Assistant from the Cape Fear Museum, shared all the interesting cultural aspects of post-World War II America. Listen above. 

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Girls Choir of Wilmington is throwing a Spring Gala on March 26 at Watermark Marina on River Road. The Choir celebrates its 20th anniversary (and its 40th concert). Founder and Director, Sandy Errante, joined us with two members to talk about the celebration. Choir member Emma Moyer has been in the choir for 6 years; she and new Choir member Malia Kassell, talk about what singing means to them. Listen above. 

James Bowling

What if I told you that the film "Heathers"-1988 black comedy, inappropriate high-school cult classic- was made into a musical? Well, it's true, and Anthony Lawson is directing the Wilmington premiere of Heathers, the Musical for Panache Theatrical Productions. Lawson and actress/singer Hunter Wyatt joined us in the studio; listen above. Wyatt is playing the part made famous by Winona Ryder: Veronica.  The show opens on Thursday, March 16 at Thalian Hall's Stein Theatre, running through April 2. 

Free Movement

This is extended raw tape from Gina Gambony's (GG) interview with Nick Szuberla (NS) and Rend Smith (RS) from Working Narratives and Free Movement/Black Man Running 5-K. 

Barry Salwen

John Tabler, the Director of Music at 1st Presbyterian Church in downtown Wilmington, joined us in the studio to talk about this month's Music at First guest musician: international concert pianist Barry Salwen. Listen above to hear John talk about his own musical beginnings and what Barry will perform on March 19. If you haven't been to 1st Pres, John also shares a description of the nearly 90-year-old gothic style church. 

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Women's Impact Network (WIN) is collective of women who pool their money to make a big impact on non-profits in the Cape Fear region. The group is in its sixth year; the first year, WIN pooled $20,000 to distribute. Impressive, right? Well, this year, as membership has increased, so has the impact power: $58,000 will be distributed this year, the lion's share going to one organization. WIN wants to continue to expand and provide even more support to local non-profits. Listen above to the chair of the Leadership Committee, Linda Brown, and the chair of the Membership Committee, Carol Kennedy.

Keegan Lester/instagram

Poet Keegan Lester is on a tour with his collection of poetry called this shouldn't be beautiful but it was & it was all i had so i drew it. This collection was published by Slope Editions after Keegan won the 2016 Slope Editions Book Prize. He's on a 28-date tour with the book, mostly sharing readings and signing books in bars and other locations outside the walls of academia. Keegan earned his MFA in Poetry at Columbia University, but this tour seems to represent a break with the university system he criticizes for constraining emerging poets through unyielding and outdated definitions of poetry. Listen above.

Aleks Karjaka

The New York Times calls him "gifted"; the Wall Street Journal says his performance is "dazzling." The LA Times proclaims him as "the next big organ talent." He hasn't hit 30 yet, but young Christopher Houlihan is taking the organ world by storm, and he's performing in Wilmington on Friday, March 10 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. He drew a great deal of attention when he performed all 6 of Louis Vierne's organ symphonies in 2012, and he'll play excerpts (Scherzo, Cantabile, & Allegro) from Vierne's 2nd Symphony on Friday night, plus Vierne's Carillon de Westminster, J.S. Bach's Italian Concerto, and César Franck's Choral II in B minor

Nick Szuberla, Executive Director of Working Narratives, and the Lead Artist, Rend Smith, joined us to talk about a project they are doing in Wilmington: Free Movement. The key part of this project is the part public art event/part sustainable community building group called Black Man Running 5K. The group meets (and runs/walks) weekly, but on Saturday, March 11, 9:00am-4:00pm, they are throwing a big event at Hugh MacRae Park

Bestselling author Taylor Brown has received a lot of attention for his work over the last few years. In 2016, he published a collection of short stories called In the Season of Blood and Gold, which received high praise and was a finalist for an International Book Award short story prize. His first novel, Fallen Land, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and the Library Journal. I spoke with Taylor about his 2nd and latest unreleased novel The River of Kings. This book has already  received glowing praise from established authors.

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