Arts and culture

Jay Janner / AP Photo/

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Courtesy of Michal Daniel for Minnesota Opera

The opera scene in Atlanta is evolving, growing and blossoming. That's largely thanks to one company, the Atlanta Opera, and their general and artistic director Tomer Zvulun.

When he took over the troupe in 2013, Zvulun told Lois Reitzes that his mantra has been to "increase the artistic risk and lower the financial risk." That meant pairing familiar opera favorites with new, visually-stunning interpretations. 

Ben Wright

Clarinetist Julian Bliss and his band are heading this year’s Emory Jazz Fest. Bliss, however, dedicates most of his musical career to classical music as a touring soloist and chamber player.

Bliss was an early fan of clarinetist Benny Goodman, who is the perfect foil for Bliss. Goodman was a legendary jazz musician and bandleader, but during his musical career, he wanted to dip his toe into classical. Classical composer Aaron Copland wrote his clarinet concerto for Goodman. That same concerto was the impetus for classically-trained Bliss to experiment with jazz.

Jonathan Beilin /

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

BreeAnne Clowdus, Courtesy of Theatrical Outfit

"Whatever affects one destiny affects us all."

That is the big idea behind Theatrical Outfit's current production, "Moxie."

Traveling from war-torn Afghanistan to an inner-city classroom in Detroit -- and many places in between -- the show follows the journey of a handmade book as it passes from one reader to another.

Dana Hawley

"The Love Factory" is how actor Benjamin Walker characterizes novelist Nicholas Sparks. Sparks is responsible for "The Notebook," "Message in a Bottle" and "A Walk To Remember," to name just a few of his books that have been adapted for the screen.

"The Choice," which opens in theaters this week, is the latest of those. It follows a decade of romantic ups-and-downs in the life of a pair of neighbors who fall in love after meeting for the first time.

Courtesy of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Courtesy of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

One member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records this week.

Bassist Jane Little, 87, will set the world record for the longest professional tenure with a single orchestra.

Her career has spanned the whole history of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She joined the group in 1945 when it was still a youth orchestra under maestro and educator Henry Sopkin. It turned professional in 1947, and Little finally got paid for the first time for her bass playing, a whopping $35 every other week.

Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

Mardi Gras is just around the corner and many are planning to visit New Orleans for their celebration destination. For those who want to travel a bit further this year – to the western side of Louisiana for example – “City Lights” travel commentator and Southbound Magazine editor Kevin Benefield suggests Lake Charles, “where Cajun meets cowboy.”

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

As Joshilyn Jackson continues her break from writing “Origin Story” to focus on her book being released later this month, she’s contemplating how the reader will respond. Jackson says whenever she publishes a book she’s “always nervous” thanks in part to the “exposed feeling” of the experience.

Jackosn begins this installment of “Writer To Reader” on “City Lights” by reading an excerpt from “The Opposite Of Everyone,”giving listeners a chance to respond.

Associated Press

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes"

Stefano Berca / Courtesy of AJFF

This week at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, moviegoers have the opportunity to learn about a little-recognized period in history.

The film, "Midnight Orchestra," follows a Jewish man’s return to Morocco, where he was raised. 

Slowly, through the film, he discovers why his father, a famous musician, made his family leave the country for Israel decades before.

"Homeage to King" at the King National Historic Site
Al Such / WABE

February is Black History Month, which means that schools and families will be learning all about the history of the civil rights movement and the accomplishments of African-American scientists, inventors, civil rights leaders and more. Atlanta's history is jam-packed with prominent figures, and artists from all corners have built monuments dedicated to their accomplishments.

Atlanta houses gorgeous works inspired by the struggle for civil rights with a variety in genres – from reliefs to humongous copper statues.

Joan Marcus / Courtesy of Atlantic Records

He may have been dead for over 200 years, but Founding Father Alexander Hamilton will be making a big splash on the Fox Theatre's stage.

"Hamilton" will begin touring in 2017, and Atlanta's one of its stops. The show will be part of Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta's 2017-2018 season.

GoToVan /

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Paul Kolnik / Courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is on tour, and they will be stopping at the Fox Theatre next week for an extended stay. From Feb. 10 to 14, the company will perform a collection of pieces and end each show with "Revelations," a celebrated piece by Alvin Ailey.  

Among her other roles, Ailey dancer Jacqueline Green will perform as the lady with the umbrella in “Revelations,” a role she always looked up to.

Isadora Pennington

Content warning: This story contains some adult language.

How does one make friends? Anyone who has moved to a new town or just finds themselves socially bereft knows it can be difficult to connect with complete strangers.

That is at the center of Alayna Huft-Tucker's story "Walk Right Up." It’s a part of the ongoing series "Storytellers," which collects first-person narratives from writers around Atlanta.

David Raccuglia

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Courtesy of the High Museum of Art

Alabama-based artist Thornton Dial died Monday. He was 87 years old.

For Paul Arnett, Thornton Dial wasn’t just an artist, he was a personal hero.

Arnett is acting director of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which is dedicated to documenting the work of self-taught African-American artists. His father, William Arnett, is known for bringing the works of these artists, notably the quilters of Gee’s Bend, to the wider art world. William Arnett was introduced to Dial and his work in 1987.

Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When curator Renée Mussai and her team unearthed a collection of undocumented photos in Getty Images' Hulton Archive, she knew they'd found something special.

These were photos that hadn’t been seen in over 130 years. Working closely with the Hulton Archive, Autograph ABP put those photos on display in London in 2014 in an exhibit called “Black Chronicles II.”

Elizabeth calls "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara "one of the most life-affirming books I've read." It's also made everyone she's given the book to cry.
Kate Sweeney / WABE

Think of your personal list of all-time favorite books. It's likely that the list hasn't changed much for some time. What would it take for a book you read now to make the cut?

Well, in this installment of "Page-Turners," Elizabeth Anderson tells us the story of the book that she read last year that did just that.

As a bookseller at Charis Books And More, Anderson -- who is also the executive director of Charis Circle, the store’s partner nonprofit -- has spent most of her adult life surrounded by stuff to read. 

Paul A. Hebert / Invision/Associated Press

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Kevin Rinker / WABE

Throughout the “City Lights with Lois Reitzes” series “Writer To Reader,” bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson has been taking listeners through the process of writing her book, “Origin Story.” With her deadline six months away, Jackson says she “can see that hazy outline of that tape across the finish line” but has stopped writing the book altogether.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Natalie Avital

In 2009, three Americans went on a hiking trip in northern Iraq. They had been working in Syria as activists and journalists.

On their trip, they accidentally strayed across the unmarked Iranian border. Iranian guards accused them of spying for the United States, and the three ended up in the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran.

Two of the hikers, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, were held there for two years without a trial. Sarah Shourd was held for one year in solitary confinement.

Dan Ellyot / Courtesy of SCAD FASH

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Courtesy of Alliance Theatre

In Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Disgraced," Amir Kapoor, a corporate lawyer makes fun of his nephew for changing his name from Hussein to Abe.

"I've known you your whole life as Hussein, I'm not going to start calling you Abe now," says Amir.

"You know how much easier things are since I changed my name?" Abe retorts. "It's in the Quran, you can hide your name if you have to."

The Savannah College of Art and Design's new fashion museum, SCAD FASH, is unveiling two new, very different exhibits.

One, titled "Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken" after a quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, features an army of garments designed and worn by "London's most outrageous dresser" – a title given to Daniel Lismore by Vogue. 

Lismore's style ranges from geisha to "Star Wars'" Padmé Amidala, and his clothes are collages of materials. One of his outfits at SCAD FASH is composed of an Alexander McQueen gown, fabric from Vietnam and chainmail. 

Nina Subin

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Library of Congress

Perhaps it's the Scots  — and the Scots alone — who find a dish like haggis palatable, but poetry lovers the world over adore the national hero of Scotland, Robert Burns.

Burns was born on Jan. 25, 1759, and Scots generally celebrate his birth on or around his birthday. And how does one celebrate a long-dead poet? With Burns Night — an evening of music, poetry and, of course, haggis.