Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

The Pittsburgh Opera Turns 75

Mar 28, 2013
Pittsburgh Opera

This year, the Pittsburgh Opera will celebrate its 75th season. 90.5 WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar, talks with Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn about the upcoming season and their Diamond Jubilee.

The New Girl in Town on Eco-Friendly Traveling

Mar 27, 2013
Charles & Hudson / Flickr

From buildings to household products we're finding more and more ways to be environmentally conscious. So why not extend our sustainable lifestyles to our vacations?  Travel contributor Elaine Labalme tells us how we can apply eco-friendly awareness to our travels. 

Take a look at some green travel options:

The Book of Mormon

Mar 27, 2013

Everywhere it goes, the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon is sold out. Pittsburgh is no exception. We sit down with Mark Evans, one of the stars of the touring show to talk about the themes of this controversial play and getting into character.

The inaugural Pittsburgh Bicycle Film Festival will take place Thursday evening, with doors at the Regent Square Theater on South Braddock Avenue opening at 6 p.m. 

Twenty five percent of ticket sales will go to Bike Pittsburgh to support their mission to make the city and the region safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

According to Seth Gernot of Events Unlimited, there will be two unusual bikes in the lobby: one that makes popcorn by pedaling and one that makes smoothies.  

Bob Kosturko

As the popular British drama "Call the Midwife" returns for a second season on PBS, Morgantown-based author and certified nurse-midwife Patricia Harman offers recommendations for readers with an interest in the practice.

Jennifer Worth, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch

Mar 23, 2013

Saturday, March 30:

First, the downtown gallery “Space” is hosting a reading entitled “Mean Girls” tonight at 7:00. The readings are meant to raise awareness and increase discussion of the problem of bullying among teenage girls, and the literature works in tandem with an ongoing art exhibit of the same name.  Tonight’s readings begin at 7:00 at the “Space” gallery on Liberty Avenue downtown.

What About Bob?

Mar 22, 2013
Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

  Our sports guy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us to preview Cinderella Robert Morris University's second round game in the NIT, discuss Pitt's early exit from the NCAA tourney and the Penguins' winning streak.

Soldiers and Sailors Unveils Medal of Honor Exhibit

Mar 22, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered what a Congressional Medal of Honor looks like but have never had a close up look, now’s your chance.

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland opens an exhibit Sunday that displays its five Medals of Honor.

The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest military award and is presented for "personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty."  Since the beginning of the Civil War there have been 3,460 Medal of Honor recipients.

The Globetrotter Diaries

Mar 21, 2013
Hearst Corporation

  Michael Clinton is the president of marketing and publishing for Hearst magazines. The Pittsburgh native is a seasoned world traveler. He'll talk to our travel contributor Elaine Labalme about his latest book The Globetrotter Diaries: Tales, Tips and Tactics for Traveling the 7 Continents and how you can be a better traveler.

The New Girl in Town on Traveling Alone

Mar 21, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

It's been said, "He travels fastest, who travels alone" as long as you know all of the good spots to visit.  This week our travel contributor Elaine Labalme discusses the joys of going solo when it comes to traveling.

A March Madness Upset

Mar 20, 2013
Helen Wigger / WESA

Tuesday night, in an unlikely National Invitational Tournament first round game, tiny Robert Morris University upset the defending NCAA champion, the Kentucky Wildcats. Robert Morris University Coach Andy Toole joins us to talk about the victory.

The Capitol Steps: 30 Years of Satire

Mar 19, 2013
Capitol Steps

  The political performers known as The Capitol Steps, are a singing troupe that began with a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the government that employed them. Collectively, they’re said to represent 18 Congressional offices and 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience. This week, members of the Capitol Steps are coming to town to perform for the Traffic Club of Pittsburgh. We'll talk with Elaina Newport, a founding member and writer who worked in the Senate as a legislative aid.

Watch the Capitol Steps' 30 Years of Satire video


As President of the Forbes Funds, Kate Dewey is interested in how nonprofits can adapt along with changing technology. 

What About Bob? Sports Talk With Bob Dvorchak

Mar 16, 2013
Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us for his regular Monday segment. This week he'll preview Pitt's appearance in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, discuss NHL realignment and how free agency is draining the Steelers' star players.  

A Taste of Wigle Whiskey

Mar 15, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Each weekend Wigle Whiskey, located in the Strip District, offers distillery tours connecting whiskey lovers to Pittsburgh history. On the tour, Meredith Grelli tells 2 stories. The first is a story about turning organic rye grains into whiskey. The other is about the distillery’s namesake, the rebellious Philip Wigle; who almost died for the sake of whiskey. Here’s a taste of the Wigle tour.

This segment of Essential Pittsburgh originally aired on August 23, 2012

What's a St. Patrick's Day Parade Without Bag Pipes?

Mar 13, 2013
Bonnie Cousins / Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade

Award Winning Bagpiper, E.A. Channon, author of "Ballad of a Bagpiper: Whatever Blows Up Your Kilt" has performed for royals like Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana and icons like Bill Gates and President Reagan. He tells us everything we could possibly want to know about bagpipes.

Then, Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee Chairman Pat O'Brien joins us to talk about how the Steel City's St. Patty's Day parade has become the second biggest in the country.

Spa Day with the New Girl

Mar 13, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Whether it’s an exotic locale or a local day spa, a massage, facial and aromatherapy could be just what the doctor ordered. Travel contibutor Elaine Labalme offers some tempting spa suggestions.

Jeff Meade/Flickr

On Saturday Pittsburgh's annual family-friendly St. Patrick's Day parade and festivities will begin at 10 a.m. The Pittsburgh parade is held March 17 or the Saturday immediately preceding that date.

Leave the green beer at home though, because city code prohibits drinking alcohol in public. The ordinance is more commonly known as the "Open Container Law."

Heinz History Center

1968 was a notable year in American history, the Vietnam War was raging, Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated, and the Women’s movement was gaining national attention.

Pittsburgh was among the hotbeds of change with civil unrest in the hill district, war protests on campuses and through all of that, the women’s rights movement was charging forward.

South by Southwest: Spotlight on Pittsburgh

Mar 12, 2013
Scott Beale / Flickr

One of the best known music events in the country is the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. We'll take a look at the growing relationship between music and innovation at the festival, and how Pittsburgh innovation fits in. This year marked the first time Pittsburgh has had an official presence at SXSW. The Pittsburgh Innovation Party was hosted by Heinz College at CMU and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Ari Lightman, Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the CIO institute at Heinz College and Brad Stephenson, senior web media and marketing manager at Heinz College have just returned from SXSW and talk about Pittsburgh's interactive presence.

And Pittsburgh-based electronic music Producer and DJ, Buku talks about his future plans, including a performance at SXSW, and the challenges of getting noticed in the music business. Sample his music at Soundcloud.

Christopher Kennedy Lawford

New York Times Best selling Author, Activist, and Actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford  chronicled his battle with near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction in the memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal. We'll talk with him about his latest book RECOVER TO LIVE: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction and his journey back to sobriety.

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Alex Johnson

Mar 11, 2013
Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

It may not be Hogwarts, but Community College of Allegheny County president and Harry Potter fan Alex Johnson is passionate about his school. He shares his reading recommendations with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson.

What About Bob? Sports Talk with Bob Dvorchak

Mar 11, 2013


   The Penguins are at the halfway mark of their lockout abbreviated season, Pitt basketball is going into the last Big East tournament and will James Harrison remain a Steeler? Our sports guy Bob Dvorchak weighs in.

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

It may not be Hogwarts, but CCAC president and Potter fan Alex Johnson is passionate about his school. 

He recommends:

Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

Local Goodness: Maple Syrup Season is Here

Mar 7, 2013

When one thinks of pure maple syrup, Vermont often comes to mind. However, Pennsylvania's maple season is also highly anticipated for those with a sweet tooth. Our local food contributor Rhonda Schuldt shares some maple syrup cooking tips and talks about the abundance of local festivals.

Celebrate Maple Season at a local festival:

March 16 & 17 - 10th Annual NW Pennsylvania Maple Association Taste & Tour Weekend in the Erie area 

March 16, 17, 20-24 - 66th Annual PA Maple Festival in Somerset, PA 

April 6 & 7 - The Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival at Brady's Run Park in Beaver, PA

The Pillow Project

It began nearly ten years ago as “an evolving experiment for improvisational free jazz movement, performance-happenings and new ideas in dance,” and The Pillow Project has never wandered far from its roots. 

Pearlann Porter heads the group that sees the word “jazz” as a verb. The group gathers the second Saturday of every month at “The Space Upstairs” in Pittsburgh's East End to perform.  Project members call the studio in a repurposed warehouse a “4,000 square foot canvas where audiences and artists interact.”

Cinedigm / Documrama Films

On Friday, March 8, in observance of International Women’s Day, the Thomas Merton Center will screen The Invisible War, a documentary about abuse of women in the American military.

The Academy Award-nominated film addresses sexual assault against women in the armed forces. According to the military’s official statistics, 20 percent of women have experienced sexual assault. An estimated 80 percent of those cases go unreported.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With a grand goal of restoring the Allegheny County Courthouse but few details and even less funding, an effort to rehabilitate the 125 year old building was launched Wednesday by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.  The executive has named a committee chock full of current and former elected officials to spearhead the effort.

Cordelia / Flickr

One of the must see events of the season is the blooming of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital. However, if you plan to see them you’d better act fast. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme tells us what you need to know in order to see the blossoms at their peak.

Thurgood: The One-Man Play

Mar 6, 2013
Yoichi Robert / Wikipedia

In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice of the United States. Before that Marshall was known for his successful arguments before the Supreme Court as an attorney, in particular for his victory in Brown v. Board of Education. The one-man play Thurgood, comes to the Pittsburgh Public Theater this month. It tells his life story: from humble beginnings in Baltimore, to landmark civil rights legislation, and his rise to the highest court in the land. We’re joined by Montae Russell, a Pittsburgh native, playing the role of Thurgood Marshall.