Arts and culture

Ayumi Sakamoto

You might not want to ask The Ringling International Arts Festival Curator Dwight Currie how many mountains he had to move to make this year's RIAF happen.  This year, ahead of the Ringling's opening of its Asian Arts and Cultural Center, the focus of the festival is Asian artists.

Credit Marty Sohl / Metropolitain Opera via Associated Press

I'm in the third row, watching the Metropolitan Opera perform Giuseppe Verdi's  Il Trovatore. It's a pretty good view. I could see the anguish in a character's face as she sings an aria about an angry mob burning a woman alive. That event ignites the classic opera's flames of revenge -- flames that can only be doused with blood. 

But I wasn't watching the performance at New York's Lincoln Center. I was a little over 1,000 miles away, in an auditorium at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. 

Tim Redman

This weekend, Michael Francis will take the stage with The Florida Orchestra as its new Music Director. For the concerts to open the Masterworks season, Francis chose Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3 and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, which will feature Valentina Lisitsa.

Francis said his idea was to present "two true epics," adding that they represent "very much the start of an American journey."

Pope Francis speaks his mind, and he did that again in his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday morning. But, in the vein of the best Jesuit teachers, Francis praised America, its rich political history and its ideals before delicately delivering some things its political leaders might, well, want to consider working on.

There were political messages that challenged the orthodoxy of both American political parties, but, in this 51-minute address, there were a lot more points of emphasis Democrats are happy about — and that put some pressure on Republicans.

Tony Gentile / Associated Press

When Sister Anne Dougherty of the Franciscan Center in Tampa received a call from Congresswoman Kathy Castor inviting her to see Pope Francis in Washington DC, she almost had to pinch herself. She thought she was dreaming. 

Pope Francis arrives in Washington, D.C., this afternoon for his first trip to the U.S. Here's a look at some of the key moments to watch during the leader of the Roman Catholic Church's six-day visit.

Tuesday: The President Greets The Pope

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don't expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

Puerto Ricans Head To Central Florida At Fast Pace For Climate, Jobs

Sep 15, 2015

In a small, crowded shopping plaza, the smell of mofongos drifts from Melao, a popular Puerto Rican bakery. A few doors down people eat plantains at Puerto Chino a Puerto Rican-style Chinese spot. Others buy books at libreria cristiana, a Spanish bookstore.

This is Buenaventura Lakes, part of Kissimmee St. Cloud, where Spanish is the new lingua franca and Puerto Rican flags propped in windows is now a common sight.

Janet Colon remembers less than ten years ago when the area was different.

Dave Gordon
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

It's been 14 years since we were glued to the television, watching those riveting images of planes flying into the World Trade Center, and the towers collapsing into dust. One photographer living near Boston at the time was troubled by those repeating images, and drove to Manhattan to capture what he says is the human toll of the attacks.

Bill Meek, is the owner and director emeritus of the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples.  He wanted to bring the work of American Master Robert Vickrey to his alma mater, Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Meek was friends with Vickrey for 30 years. And tomorrow night, Sept. 11, Meek will lead a walking tour of the Vickrey exhibition.

Your Real Stories is putting on the 2nd annual "Story Days in Tampa Bay" this week. It starts September 8th with events through September 12th. 

Lillian Dunlap, co-founder of Your Real Stories, said "Our aim for story days is to have a lot of different ways for people to hear, tell and experience stories."

Florida Cowboys Week: Part Two

The state of Florida has a rich and diverse tradition of cattle ranching. Recently we explored the black cowboys of Florida. There are other distinctive elements to the state's past as well.

"Indian cowboys," for instance.

Wikimedia Commons

Millions of puzzle fans opening their Sunday crossword this week didn't know the game they crave lost one of its masters: the inimitable Merl Reagle. The Tampa resident died over the weekend from complications due to acute pancreatitis, his wife told the Tampa Bay Times.

When President Obama was sworn into office for his second term in January 2013, it was Miami-raised writer Richard Blanco who read the inaugural poem.

He was the first Latino and first openly gay inaugural poet in U.S.  history. And now Blanco, a child of Cuban immigrants, will put his poetic stamp on another historic event -- the re-opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba.

My Time In Cannes

Aug 12, 2015
Quincy Walters / WUSF News

Before each feature film at the Cannes Film Festival, an enchanting piece of music from Camille Saint-Saen's Carnival of the Animals, plays. For me, it reinforced the magical nature of attending one of the world's most important film venues. 

Carol Highsmith, Jan. 10, 2010 / The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce is using renewed relations between the Obama Administration and government of Cuba to re-establish the link between the “Cigar City” and Havana.

Larry Wilder is chairman of the chamber.  He said Havana and Ybor are a natural fit since the Cuban capital pretty much gave birth to Tampa's cigar industry when so many cigar workers moved here in the late 1800s.

Tampa Karate Kid Prepares to Take on the World

Jul 30, 2015

It’s not every day you meet a 10-year-old who frequents words like “perseverance” and “self-control” in their vocabulary. But if you catch Sammy Gillespie talking about karate, the sport he is currently dominating, you just might find one.

He is currently celebrating his new title as a karate national champion, and preparing to take on karate masters from 27 different countries at the World Karate Competition in Orlando this fall.

Southern governments at the state and local level have been reassessing the confederate battle flag.  Tuesday Walton County took a middle path, replacing the current flag with an earlier version.


This installment of StoryCorps Tampa Bay is the final one of the series that started in May 2014. As we sunset this vast collection of local stories, what more appropriate conversation to have is there than one about aging?

John Hoopes asks his dad, Ray Hoopes, the tough questions on aging starting with, "Is it hard to get old?"

Music Used:

"Silver Haired Daddy of Mine" by Norah Jones and Billie Joe from the album, Foreverly.