The Front Row, 08/09/2006

Today, the new administrative head of Houston's Opera In The Heights, Managing Director Roy Hughes, and Artistic Director William Weibel, tell us about the company's immediate plans for the 2006-2007 performance season, which opens next month, and about their long-range hopes for the organization's future. . . . .

Wiliam WeibelThe 11th season of Opera in the Heightsξwill be its first under the leadership of its recently-appointed new Managing Director, Roy Hughes.ξHe takes over the administrative reins following the resignation of one of the organization's founders, Reba Kochersperger, who ran the operation full-time for six years, but decided this Spring to return to her previous career path as an educator.ξAs General Director of Opera in the Heights, Ms. Kochersperger made all of the final decisions in both the administrative and programming areas. Conductor William Weibel toldξDean Daltonξthat the organization has been re-structured;ξWeibel will now be solely responsible for the company's artistic direction, and the new guy, Managing Director, Roy Hughes, will focus on business, financial and operational matters.ξAudio here.ξξ

Scholastic Art and Writing AwardsEach year since 1924, Scholastic, the company that publishes Scholastic Magazine and the U-S editions of the Harry Potter novels, has invited 7th - 12th graders to submit examples of their creative work in poetry and prose for the annual Scholastic Writing Competition.ξThe best pieces in eleven different categories, including personal essay, short story and poetry, are acknowledged with Gold Key first prizes and Silver Key second prizes, first on the regional level, and then nationally.ξ Past winners of the Writing Award include Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, Truman Capote and former U-S Poet Laureate, Rita Dove.ξThe Competition has been administered in the Houston region for the past seventeen years by the Harris County Department of Education, and this year, the local judges received 418 entries from students at 75 public schools and 17 private institutions.ξThis week, for the third consecutive year, weξcelebrate on The Front Row withξreadings of their work by five of the local young writers whose work received regional and national recognition.ξToday, Michael Franco, who graduated this spring from H-I-S-D's T. H. Rogers Middle School, reads an abridged version of his futuristic coming-of-age story, "The Games."ξAudio here.ξξ

Edward DolnickIn the early morning hours of a gloomy February day in 1994, as Norway was basking in the international spotlight over the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer ... 80 miles to the south, two men broke into the National Gallery in the capital city of Oslo, and made off with one of the world's most famous twentieth-century art works, Edvard Munch's "The Scream."ξThe seventy-million-dollar painting was eventually recovered through the brilliant and daring work of a colorful, half-American, half-English operative named Charley Hill, a member of the Art Squad of London's police force, Scotland Yard.ξThe facts of the case are told in a new book, The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece, penned by Edward Dolnick, former science writer for the Boston Globe, who became interested in the subject of stolen art when he covered the still-unsolved 1990 theft of three-hundred-million-dollars' worth of masterpieces from Bean Town's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.ξKUHF's Alison Young spoke by phone with Edward Dolnick.ξAudio here.ξξ

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