March 26, 2009...
This week, WBHM is taking a look at Alabama's economy, and how the state is dealing with the economic downturn. Arts and cultural groups are no strangers to financial difficulty. In 2007, Jefferson County Commissioners eliminated funding for the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham. The Alliance went from millions of dollars to zero in a matter of months. President and C-E-O Buddy Palmer spoke with WBHM's Bradley George about how arts organizations make do in tough economic times.
Over the last several months you may have heard commentators using phrases like "worst crisis since the Great Depression." While most don't expect the breadlines and 25-percent unemployment of the 1930s to return, what was Birmingham like during the Great Depression? WBHM's Andrew Yeager found a city shocked by the economic crash... but also seeds of another tumultuous time in Birmingham's history.
Birmingham is fortunate to have more than two dozen theatre groups, from student organizations to equity acting companies. But The Seasoned Performers stand out from the rest. They're the state's only company composed exclusively of actors over the age of 50. The company itself celebrates 25 years ... with a gala performance this Sunday at the Virginia Samford Theatre. It'll be a virtual who's who of Birmingham theatre luminaries. Marth Haarbauer is a UAB theatre professor and co-founder of The Seasoned Performers
Imagine being 15 years old and hailed as "the pianistic find of the century". That's what happened to Leon Fleisher and a series of critically acclaimed recordings followed. But Fleisher's career was cut short by focal dystonia, a neurological disease that caused two of his fingers on his right hand to curl into his palm. The condition forced him to play repertoire for left hand only, as well as teach and conduct. But thanks to new treatments and therapy, Leon Fleisher is now able to resume performing two-hand literature. And he's in Birmingham this weekend to play with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra AND give a solo recital. He spoke with WBHM's Michael Krall...
Pianist Leon Fleisher plays Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand this weekend and gives a solo recital featuring works of Schubert and Brahms, Sunday afternoon at the Alys Stephens Center. Leon Fleisher's first two-hand concerto recording in over 40 years has just been released. The recording features three piano concerti by Mozart.
Switching gears - just a bit - to the swinging tunes of the Count Basie Orchestra. If you listen carefully, you can make out the double bass. That's Ensley jazz legend Cleveland Eaton - Cleve, to his friends and fans. The 69-year-old Alabama Jazz Hall of Famer has performed and recorded with stars in nearly all the genres - from Lou Rawls to Sammy Davis, Jr. The Platter to Ella Fitzgerald. His 1975 recording "Plenty Good Eaton" is considered a classic in the funk music genre. And then there's this classic disco funk, Bama Boogie Woogie. Cleveland Eaton and his Jazz Allstars perform every Wednesday night and Sunday mornings at a café near Crestline Park. But that regular gig has gotten a little harder since Eaton was diagnosed with oral cancer. On Saturday/today there's a benefit concert to raise money for Eaton's medical expenses.
Tapestry is produced by Tanya Ott and Michael Krall, with help this week from Andrew Yeager. We also welcome Bradley George - the new afternoon host of All Things Considered. In the coming weeks, Bradley will also take over as producer of Tapestry... so if you've got story ideas, drop him an e-mail.