Erin Wright | WABE 90.1 FM

Erin Wright

Radio Producer

Erin Wright produces "City Lights" and "Strike Up the Band." After studying viola, German and Musicology at UGA, Erin began working at Public Broadcasting Atlanta in 2011. 

Ways to Connect

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

With the holiday gift-giving season upon us,"City Lights" host Lois Reitzes and arts writer Gail O'Neill share their picks for the grown-ups on your list.

American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes

by Anne Byrn

“It is really a social history lesson … It’s just fascinating, and enlightening, and you see these gorgeous photographs of cakes.”

Alison Guillory / WABE

With the holiday gift-giving season upon us,"City Lights" host Lois Reitzes and arts writer Gail O'Neill share their picks for newborns to young adults. 

Lil’ Libros Bilingual Baby Board Books
by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein

Courtesy Chip Simone

Chip Simone knows photography, and he is an authority on Georgia photographers in particular. Simone curated the first ever state-wide survey of contemporary photography for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. That exhibit closes this weekend, and the reviews have been glowing.

In an interview with Lois Reitzes on “City Lights,” Simone said that he did not want to limit the show to the traditional images of the rural and historic South – think photos of weathered barns, rusted pick-up trucks, fields of cotton and lots of kudzu.

Trae Patton / NBC via AP

After the excitement and success of last year’s live national telecast of “The Wiz,” it’s fair to say that expectations are pretty high for tonight’s live production of “Hairspray.”

That success, along with the high expectations, falls largely on the shoulders of Atlanta’s own Kenny Leon. The Tony Award-winning Artistic Director of True Colors Theatre Company was tapped to direct both “The Wiz” and now “Hairspray” for what is now NBC’s annual tradition of live TV musical broadcasts for the holidays.

Mitch Mandel

When you take a bite out of a cake baked just yesterday, you are really taking in hundreds of years of history.

Every style and manner of cake in America represents often centuries-old stories of immigration patterns, politics, social climates and more. In other words, you can learn a lot about American history by examining the evolution of our most distinguished desserts.

Olivia Rae James

Musician, songwriter, soundtrack and record producer T Bone Burnett has said that “The Secret Sisters echo and promise better days. They are a breath of fresh air.” And he should know, because Mr. Burnett produced the first two albums for this Alabama-born singing sibling duo.

The Secret Sisters – Laura and Lydia Rogers – have made some powerful fans in the music industry since their self-titled debut record from 2010. The sisters expect to release their third album in the spring of 2017, this time produced by singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile.

Courtesy of Chanticleer

While you may be chowing down on turkey, retail stores everywhere have already signaled the coming of a larger holiday season. And December welcomes plenty of concerts, plays and celebrations of the winter holidays.

This weekend, Spivey Hall hosts two Christmas-themed shows with two critically acclaimed acapella groups.

The Vendome Press

Thanksgiving marks the traditional beginning of the season of celebration, and no one throws a party like event planner David Monn. He has planned parties at the White House for Michelle Obama and for the New York Public Library.

Monn is the author of a new coffee table book called “The Art of Celebrating.” And while most of his parties are splendidly out of the price range for most people, Atlanta arts and culture writer Gail O'Neill recommended this coffee table book to awaken our imaginations.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra led by Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski will perform the works of John Williams this weekend.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Modern Japanese landscapes and ancient Chinese poetry fill out this weekend’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert program.

The concerts open with a contemporary piece by Toru Takemitsu. “A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden” is one of the late Japanese composer’s most performed and celebrated works. The Atlanta Symphony’s Principal Guest Conductor, Donald Runnicles, called Takemitsu’s work “a meditation.”

Deborah Feingold

Alice Hoffman has written more than thirty works of fiction, including “The Marriage of Opposites,” “The Museum of Extraordinary Things” and “Practical Magic.” Her latest novel is called “Faithful.” In between appearances and signings around Atlanta, Hoffman stopped by WABE for an interview with Lois Reitzes on “City Lights.”

Fay Fox

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is equally at home in the concert hall and on the opera stage.

While Barton quite literally calls Atlanta home, the Rome, Ga., native is a world-traveling opera star on the rise. After winning both the Main and Song Prizes at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, and in 2015 winning the coveted Richard Tucker Award, to say that Barton’s career has taken off is quite the understatement.

With each performance, audience demand for a solo album only grows. Now, as the saying goes, the wait is finally over.

Photo courtesy Hank Stewart

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes";

Erhard Rom

“War cannot be described in film, or in theatre, or in opera … you can’t replicate the actual experience. But what you can actually achieve is [to] tell the universal truth about what it is to be a soldier.”

That’s according to Tomer Zvulun, the general and artistic director of the Atlanta Opera. Zvulun identifies with the soldier’s experience because he is a veteran himself, having served as a combat medic in the Israeli army.

Tim Whitby / Alamy Stock Photo

Too old to trick-or-treat?

Then we have some bone-chilling suggestions for you, if you're feeling a little adventurous. Atlas Obscura is a virtual guidebook to our world's hidden and curious wonders. Now, Atlas Obscura is offering a sampling of those curiosities in the form of a "real" (read: hardback) book, subtitled "An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders."

EAP Pictures/Double Raven Pictures

“This show is a blend of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘American Horror Story.’”

That’s one way actor Keith Brooks describes “Edgar Allan Poe’s Mystery Theatre,” a new public television historical drama series based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe, interwoven with the enigmatic author’s most bizarre tales. So far, only the pilot has been shot, but the creative team behind the new series already has the rest of the season sketched out. All this Georgia-based team needs is the financial backing and distribution to get the show running.

Ballethnic Dance Company

Atlanta’s Ballethnic Dance Company has seen its share of success and setbacks in its 26-year history.

Nena Gilreath and Waverly Lucas founded the country’s second African-American classical ballet company in 1990. The real-life couple actually met while performing with the country’s first African-American classical ballet company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

David Pedde

Iconic public radio programs are synonymous with their hosts. When you hear "Fresh Air," you think "Terry Gross"; "This American Life" and Ira Glass; "A Prairie Home Companion" and Garrison Keillor.

Well actually, it's now "A Prairie Home Companion" with Chris Thile. Longtime fans of “Prairie Home” recognize Thile as a frequent guest artist as well as a rare substitute host in recent seasons. Outside of “Prairie Home,” Thile is known for his cross-genre mandolin musicianship in bands like Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers.

Charlie McCullers

On any given night in Atlanta, there are around 900 homeless LGBTQ youth on the streets. That’s according to Lost-n-Found Youth, a local nonprofit helping these homeless youth with a mission to stabilize their lives, find permanent housing and stable employment.

Al Such / WABE

In his recent article for ArtsATL, architect Michael Kahn wrote that “Atlanta is a city that is often accused of forgetting its past. Indeed, as progress plows ahead and the heart of the city bustles with new development, older buildings are often cast aside as worthless, either replaced by or surrounded by monotonous, anonymous gleaming glass towers.”

Stephanie Mackinnon / Oxingale Records

Matt Haimovitz had a big idea with the passion and the work ethic to see it through; all he was lacking was the funding.

The inventive and ever-evolving cellist wanted to commission six composers to write six overtures to J.S. Bach’s famous cello suites. It was an untraditional proposal, but it’s the sort of challenge that intrigues seasoned composers like Philip Glass.

Gadi Dagon

Israel is at the forefront of modern dance, and for six weeks Atlanta is very lucky to host some of Israel’s finest talents for the EXPOSED contemporary dance and physical theater festival. The festival officially opens Oct. 5, but some of the artists are already in town.

In this Feb. 23, 2015 file photo, the First Folio of Shakespeare plays is displayed after a press conference at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London.
AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File

William Shakespeare, more than any other playwright in history, sustains an ever-expanding cultural relevance and vibrancy that lives on in classrooms, on stages and in every form of media. This is all the more impressive considering 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

Artist, Fahamu Pecou, currently a Ph.D. student in Emory University's Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), stands in front of his artwork at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Ga.
Bryan Meltz

Fahamu Pecou is here to re-define black masculinity.

Pecou’s paintings are in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and have even been seen on the hit TV series, “Empire.” The Atlanta artist and scholar took time from his new major exhibit opening at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, S.C. to talk with Lois Reitzes on “City Lights.”

Herb Ritts / AP Photo

Print cartoons and movies are “twin media.” 

That’s according to Dr. Eddy Von Mueller, a senior lecturer in the Department of Film and Media Studies at Emory University. Mueller says that newspaper comic strips first appeared on American newsstands in 1892, the same year Thomas Edison introduced his first movie-watching machine. Both forms of media were treated with suspicion by the sophisticated elites.

Courtesy Malek Jandali

Malek Jandali is a multi-faceted talent. The German-born, Syrian-American pianist is best known as a concert pianist and composer. The Arab Spring in 2012 and the ongoing Syrian Civil War have focused his musical gifts on activism and humanitarian work.

Lord Aeck Sargent

A new exhibit at Georgia Tech is celebrating the life and work of one of Atlanta's great architects: Terry Sargent. But the exhibit, called "Triptychs," is also about the collaborative, artistic process of building design, starting with the architect's sketches, then the illustrator's watercolor and finally the photographer's image of the completed project.

Architect Joe Greco, a colleague of the late Terry Sargent, told Lois Reitzes that architecture is “really about finding the intersection of program and logic, and then putting it together in a really artful way.”

Adam K. Thompson

The first alternative-American films and pre-cursors to today’s independent movies were created by African-American filmmakers. These filmmakers worked outside of the Hollywood studio system that was just beginning to solidify between the two world wars. The so-called “race films” depicted black culture and issues and were screened in segregated theaters across the country.

courtesy Elisabeth Koch

Though “The Milliner of Beijing” may sound like the title of a Rossini opera, it’s actually the nickname given to Atlanta native Elisabeth Koch.

As mainland China’s only milliner, or hat-maker, Koch has steadily carved out a couture fashion niche, crafting hats for Chinese blockbuster movie stars and models on the cover of Vogue magazine.

In an interview for “City Lights” with Lois Reitzes, Koch credits her craftiness to her Dutch/Welsh parents: “I come from a very creative family … If you didn’t have it, make it.”

Courtesy of Shev Rush PR

Some words are simply untranslatable, but the meaning remains universal. Take, for example, “Gigil.” It’s Filipino for that irresistible urge to pinch something cute. Or “Waldeinsamkeit” – that’s German for the feeling of being alone in the woods. “Bazodee” is Trinidadian slang for a feeling of confusion, often because of love or lust.

It’s also the title of a new film set in Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean island nation where the two dominant groups in the country are those of South Asian (sometimes referred to as East Indian) and African descent.

Freddy Bensch co-founded SweetWater with his friend Kevin McNerney. On February 17, 1997, they sold their first keg of beer.
SweetWater Brewing Company

This Cultural Olympiad story was produced in partnership with ArtsATL as part of "Atlanta Remembers: The 1996 Olympics," WABE's series on the impact of the 1996 Summer Olympics on Atlanta, 20 years later. For more stories, click here.