Arts and Culture

Run My Roadtrip: Crossing The Great Western States

Jul 21, 2014
road and wilderness out front windshield
Brian Champagne

Summer is the time of family reunions, vacations, and roadtrips. We asked you for your travel tips to help UPR guest reporter Brian Champagne run a roadtrip from Kenosha, Wisconsin and back. Brian sent us this report, after crossing Wyoming and Nebraska.
Like many family roadtrips, Brian’s isn’t going quite as smoothly as expected. He reports:

Bar Fights And Gunfire, "Nerds" Defy Stereotypes

Jul 18, 2014

Very often as humans, we try to categorize the things we experience and the people we meet. We often dismiss what we do not understand. In a lot of ways, it makes it easier for us to get through life. Unfortunately, this is also how stereotypes are formed. This story is about a group who don't fit their stereotype.

rainbow gathering

Over the holiday weekend—and in the days leading up to it—you may have heard us report on something called the Rainbow Gathering. The event, which took place over the weekend, is a meeting of the self-proclaimed Rainbow Family, a group formed in the early 1970s at the height of hippy culture. The group has met annually since 1972 at its national gathering, and this year, about 8,000 Rainbow Family members convened just a few miles east of Heber City, Utah.

Ever since the location of this year’s Rainbow Gathering was publicized, there were concerns about a clash of cultures arising between the free-spirited attendees and the small-town residents of Heber. But did that conflict really pan out?

It’s the Fourth of July, and I’m having lunch at a busy burger joint in Heber City, Utah, called Dairy Keen—not to be confused with a different burger joint with a very similar name. As you could probably guess, business is booming today, and an unofficial survey of customers reveals that most people are from out of town. But no one here looks like they’re heading to the Rainbow Gathering today. I asked Dairy Keen manager Kim Houtz if she had actually come into contact with the Rainbow Family.

Layton Teen Sings His Way To Broadway Stage

Jul 3, 2014

There’s no business like show business, and after a week performing on stage in New York City, a Layton student plans on turning musical theater into a career.

Performing on a Broadway stage is the dream for many theater students, but recent graduate of Northridge High School, Matthew Richards, has already had that experience.

After winning Best Actor in Utah’s regional competition, Richards participated in the National High School Musical Theater Awards, or Jimmy Awards, in New York City this past week. He won third place, $2,500 and the chance to sing a solo on a Broadway stage.

"I was just really honored to be chosen as a finalist. It was so cool to just stand there and be all alone on stage and just sing my heart out," he said.

A man in a suit sits on a bench, with his back to the camera, looking on at a large painting on the wall.
Impulsive Eye Photography

What do the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, and the Utah Arts Festival all have in common? It may not be what you would initially think. The answer? The Utah Division of Arts and Museums helped to found each of these organizations. 

It’s no secret that the arts in all their forms are flourishing in Utah. In fact, Utah is home to the oldest arts council in the nation.

Laurie Baefsky is the Grants Manager of Utah Arts and Museums.

“If you look at how arts and museums are particularly valued by the citizens of Utah… we have some staggering statistics. For six years running we were voted ‘Top 25 Arts Destination’ by American Style magazine. We also have the highest per capita piano ownership in the nation, right here in Utah,” said Baefsky.

"Flippin' Sweet!" Napoleon Dynamite Turns 10

Jun 12, 2014
Fox Searchlight

Ten years ago this week the film "Napoleon Dynamite" hit the silver screen and became an almost instant success. Social media is abuzz with talk of the 10-year anniversary. UPR's Matt Jensen went back to Preston, Idaho where the film was shot to see where it all happened.

It’s the last day of classes at Preston High School where much of "Napoleon Dynamite" was shot during the summer of 2003. The independent film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival the following January and made its debut in theaters later that summer.

The bible is making a mighty comeback in the U.S. with the highest rated show in the history of the Game Show Network: “The American Bible Challenge.” This high energy program brings together a colorful range of teams from every religious denomination across the country to put their knowledge of The Good Book to the test.

Deborah Dushku Gardner is a member of the first ever Mormon team to compete on the show. They call themselves “The Mormon Moms.”

Two men singing a duet with a chorus of women in the background. Appears to be a scene from the play Les Miserables.
Utah Festival

Over 250 high school students will strut their best stuff  at the 4th Annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards at Utah State University. 

Months of preparation will culminate in a spectacular evening on Saturday, May 10 featuring young aspiring actors and actresses from across the state of Utah. The competition is partnering with several programs including the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre to provide winning artists with scholarship, mentorship, and apprenticeship opportunities. 

The cover of this DVD, showing a photograph of a woman and her baby, as well as three small photographs from three of the experts highlighted in this film.
The Power of Mothers

This year marks the 100 year anniversary for the celebration of Mother’s Day in the U.S. For the past three years, two local filmmakers have traveled the globe, compiling the perspectives of experts and mothers into a special Mother’s Day DVD. 

To go beyond the usual flowers and chocolates, local filmmakers Shelly Locke and Barry McLerran have set out to honor mothers in their new DVD entitled “The Power of Mothers.” Together they scoured the globe to gather wisdom and insights from world leaders and mothers themselves.

Woman in a red volunteer vest poses, smiling. Has a volunteer badge attached to shirt.
Logan Regional Hospital

Since October of last year, patients and visitors at Logan Regional Hospital have been enjoying the soothing ambiance music provided by volunteers. This new program, called "Musicians for Healing," has provided university students and members of the community the opportunity to donate their time and talents to create a peaceful hospital atmosphere.  Ramona Fonnesbeck, the Director of Volunteer Services, worked with the administration to bring this program to the hospital. In the process, she was able to secure a brand new, baby grand piano.

Part 6: Aging Alone

May 7, 2014
woman stands in front of house
Utah Public Radio, Elaine Taylor

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part six of six.

“My name is LaRue, and that's L-a capital R-u-e. It means ‘the street’ and I always figured it meant I’d been walked on all my life [laughter], which is not true. Anyways, my address is ‘home.’”

As baby boomers hit retirement and the U.S. population ages, more and more people are left living alone in their later years. And more are choosing to stay at home.

LaRue Willis was born in Idaho in 1928. She married her husband in 1953 and together they had eight children. Three years ago her husband passed away, leaving LaRue to forge a new life for herself – alone. On the day I met with LaRue in her ranch-style house in northern Cache Valley, she described how hard the last few years had been.

“The hardest part is the loneliness. Sometimes I get panic attacks when I am alone and it’s really difficult.”

Part 5: Green Living On An All-Natural Orchard

May 6, 2014

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 5 of 6.

“My name is Lorin Harrison and my name is Ali Harrison, and our address is Paradise Valley Orchard.”

Paradise Valley Orchard is one of the only pick-it-yourself orchards in Utah. People come from around the United States come to personally pick apples off the trees.

Through their naturally grown orchard, which includes 250 apple trees, a three-quarter acre garden, a food dehydrator, rabbit fur clothing, a commercial juicer, and chickens, Ali and Lorin say they try to practice green living day-to-day.

“Our effort here is to be sustainable for ourselves. 75 to 80 percent of what we eat we try to grow here on the property," Ali said. "We like to trade things, we trade vegetables for eggs and dairy and cheese. So, I think trading is a way to be sustainable.” 

Ali said the orchard is all naturally grown.

“We’re not certified organic, so you have to be careful about the term because they don’t like you saying you’re organic if you haven’t done the certification," Ali said. "What we tell people is that we grow everything naturally."  

She said that includes no added chemicals and no non-organic pesticides.

Regardless, Lorin said killing off bugs with chemicals is not always beneficial.

Connie and Parry Winder.
Taylor Halversen

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 4 of 6.

“My name is Connie Winder and my name is Parry Winder, and our address is Cache Valley Sunsets.”

Parry Winder was an air force pilot and due to the nature of his work, he, his wife and four children would move every three months to three years, with individual trainings and deployments for Parry in between. The family has moved a total of 23 times, living in many diverse places.

“Of course our unique place would be Germany, such a different place to live,” Connie said.  

“We feel like it was an opportunity so we lived in a small German village rather than on the base. We shopped in the German stores and we went to the German restaurants and tried to become immersed in the German community and the German way of life, and it was just great; we loved it,” Parry said.

“Our favorite place was probably Alamogordo, New Mexico because we finally were able to buy our own home and have our own fenced-in back yard. Probably not the place that everyone would want to live; it’s not on anyone’s bucket list to go to Alamogordo, New Mexico, but we loved it,” Connie said.

The Winders say each place brought something interesting and new, but along with the unique opportunities that came with a career in the air force, there were some difficulties as well.

“Sometimes I could tell Connie where I was going and sometimes I couldn’t because we were in classified operations so we just would deploy and I’d say ‘I’ll be back when I’m back’,” Parry said.

Part 3: From Mansion To Yurt

Apr 29, 2014
Matt Jensen

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 3 of 6.

When you walk into Steve Hatch’s home your eyes are immediately drawn to the ceiling where a four-foot clear dome collects the light like a magnifying glass. Hatch lives in a small yurt he built in this tiny town near the Idaho border.

His new living space is a drastic shift from what he was used to. Just a few years ago he owned a $350,000 home and earned a comfortable living. But all that changed when he lost his job in the aerospace industry where he had worked for 36 years. On top of that he divorced and the value of his hillside home plunged when the housing bubble popped.

Unemployed and armed with what was left of his retirement, he moved into an apartment in Brigham City and quickly decided he needed to find a cheaper solution.

“I only had $60,000 to spend total on this project so I had to figure out a low cost way," he said. "I explored mobile homes but their cost would run me nearly $100,000 by the time I finished up."

He decided on a yurt — a sort of semi-permanent rounded structure with latticed walls and a domed roof held in place by a compression ring at the center.

“As you see a yurt from the outside and you walk in, I think you’re immediately impressed by how much space there is,” he said. “Living in the round is kind of a unique experience. It kind of changes the way you view a structure. It’s just a nice feeling inside. Most people that come into yurts feel that feeling.”

Hatch says his new 731-square-foot space is plenty big and it’s changed the way he thinks about a home and what goes inside it.

New Record Label For LDS Music Scene

Apr 25, 2014

Brandon Metcalf is the founder and producer of a new record label called Eleven 17 which will produce music for the LDS music niche.

"It will be working with other song writers and artists, and singers and musicians who are working on music that is of a faith-based or of an inspirational nature," Metcalf said. "I myself am LDS, but it is not limited to just that. I think the message can potentially appeal to a larger audience."

A photograph of a smiling Bob Chilcott, against a yellow background
John Bellars

Internationally acclaimed composer and conductor, Bob Chilcott, will be featured at the Cache Valley Choirfest on Saturday. Over 350 youth from 11 children’s choirs from all over Utah will present a world premiere of one of his pieces, commissioned specifically for this concert.

After three years of patient waiting, the time has finally come for youth from all over Utah to have the opportunity to work with composer, conductor, and former member of the “King’s Singers,” Bob Chilcott. He is especially well known for his compositions for children’s choirs. 

April Ashland / Utah Public Radio

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 1 of 6.

Don Baldwin decided as a young man he wanted to be a dairy farmer, but the square mile, 600-head dairy he now owns in Lewiston began as a much smaller operation.

I grew up in Salt Lake City on the east bench. I come from a non-farm background, and we bought two heifers that had already calved, and 13 springers on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981. We originally started with just those two cows on a rented dairy, an old dilapidated dairy, it took us almost a week to get enough milk in the bottom of a very small tank that they could even measure it where the truck could pick it up.

And we just started from there. Laurie and I working together. She worked as much as I did. I helped her in the house, she helped on the farm. Lots of times we had the kids with us in a cardboard box sitting in the barn or with us in a tractor, you know that's how they grew up was with us. And the kids worked too.

Don’s job on the farm is more than just an owner and dairyman, he grows most of the food used to feed his cattle, from plowing the ground to fertilization and harvesting and mixing the ingredients together. In a given week, he is husband, father, chemist, veterinarian and mechanic.

Don’s existence is intrinsically tied to the milk his cows produce and the land. He says public perceptions about where food comes from has affected farmers.

He believes the majority of the public has lost their connection to the farm, and it affects all aspects of his life. Whether cities are encroaching on the farm and getting upset by the smell, how food is produced, or legislative issues, the American populace is separated from their food by too many generations.

Ok, right now, we are hauling manure onto our fields. It's a by-product of the dairy, and it represents a valuable source of nutrients for our cropping and crop rotations. People used to understand that was part of the game. Now, there's a hue and a cry if we start hauling manure that we are contaminating the roads, we are destroying the aesthetic value of the community because it smells.

gallery with artwork
Taylor Halversen / Utah Public Radio

As you open the gate of the small historic house, a colorful teepee to your right as you walk the pathway steps and music wafting as you enter the front door, you realize this is no ordinary home; it has been transformed into a haven of art and community. 

Eight years ago, Dr. Brenda Sun moved to Logan, Utah and decided to open her home as a housewarming party, which turned into something much more. 

Arches National Park arches
Neal Herbert / Nations Park Service

The Utah Symphony, in concert with the Utah Office of Tourism, will be offering a series of special outdoor performances in the state’s major national parks. The performances, some of which will involve the full orchestra, are in commemoration of the Utah Symphony’s 75th anniversary.

Have you ever gone hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park and thought yourself, “This landscape would be perfectly complemented by Johann Strauss’s Voices of Spring Waltz”? Well, you weren’t the only one who thought so.

Poster with an Elk bust and the title "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
Caine College of the Arts

Once described as a "soap opera with excellent music," the opera department at Utah State University will present two performances this weekend of the delightful and hilarious 'The Merry Wives of Windsor" by Otto Niccolai. The new Director of Opera Studies, Dallas Heaton, has injected his own fresh, new perspective into the production. 

A native of Kaysville, Utah, Dallas Heaton assumed the position of Director of Opera Studies at Utah State University this January. He completed a Master’s in Collaborative Piano at Arizona State University, and an artist’s diploma in Opera Coaching at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Since then, Dallas has worked professionally as a collaborative artist for several years. 

Music Of WWI: A Centennial Commemoration

Apr 11, 2014

Music played a major role in World War I both in uniting soldiers in a rhythm and a march, and also in uniting a nation behind a cause. Graduate music students at Utah State University will be presenting a program this Saturday which will combine both music and research from this era. This event will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

Irving Berlin once declared “the history of America can be traced through its music.” Graduate students from the Music History Seminar course at USU will be tracing the events that occurred in World War I through music and lecture. Their goal is to present how music reflects the complex sentiments that come with fighting a war and, in turn, how music itself influenced individuals during that time.

Pharrell Williams, who frequently goes by just his first name, is the sort of pop star whom many people would like to view as a friend. Emerging from hip-hop, he makes charming recordings that suggest a deep appreciation of pop, soul and R&B music extending at least as far back as the 1960s. To hear Pharrell on his new album G I R L, you'd think his world consisted of grooving on catchy beats and flirting with women. It's a lightweight image that draws gravitas from his prolific work ethic and a shrewd deployment of those influences.

The aerospace museum at Hill Air Force Base announced that it will be reducing its collection of aircraft and other vehicles.

Hill Air Force Base Spokesman George Jozens said the nearly 30-year-old museum will be making the aircraft available to other museums worldwide in an effort to reduce costs.

“The museum needs to reduce its collection by about 18 aircraft, three missiles and a number of different support vehicles,” Jozens said. “The reason for this is it takes money to maintain and keep those aircraft up all of the time.”

A Native American dancer in full regalia competing in a pow wow dance competition.
Native American Student Council

Held in the spring to celebrate the renewal of life, pow-wows have traditionally served as vehicles for sharing and preserving Native American culture.  The Native American Student Council at Utah State University will be hosting their annual pow-wow this weekend. Jason Brough, the president of this council, is Shoshone and part of the north-western band.  

“If you go to the pow-wow, there’s a lot of spirituality that’s out there. It’s very much a religious ceremony, so you can still get those same feelings. You start hearing the drum going and that, I find, inspires people to learn more about the culture,” Brough says.

Pow wows are rife with symbolism, from the traditional regalia or special dress, to the symbolism of the circle which the audience and drum group form. Regardless of your background, there is something there for everyone.  

LDS Church Official's Speech Causes Uproar

Feb 19, 2014

A speech given to BYU Idaho students about morality and modesty by Tad R. Callister, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy,  was given with the intent to inspire people to follow the church’s policies.