Main Street in small towns across America is a recurrent area of keen interest for Urbana native Scott Kirby.
A well-traveled composer, visual artist, director and musician, Kirby first created an Americana-style show called “Main Street Souvenirs” about small towns across the Great Plains. He presented the show locally in 2017 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center in Springfield.
Now, Urbana will be treated to its own customized version of Kirby’s “Main Street” creation.
Kirby will present his “Main Street, Champaign County — A Movie-Concert” at the Gloria Theatre, Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.
This multi-media program is a narrated documentary about Champaign County integrated into a live piano and storytelling performance, including interviews with local artists and historians, tours through museums and original music and artwork of the area by Kirby.
Tickets are $5 at the door.
Kirby said compiling this piece for his native community was a pleasant challenge.
“In some ways it was easier, because I have connections here and know my way around,” Kirby said. “But I have put more work into this — by far — than any program I have ever done. This was a conscious decision because I wanted to go deeper into the community — its history, its character, its beauty.”
Kirby also discovered commonalities with the other communities he has visited in his travels.
“The most surprising thing I learned during this process was how much impact Champaign County has had on the rest of the country, and in fact, the world,” he said. “Not just for famous people, artists, etc., but some obscure historical figures that were quite significant — including innovations in manufacturing, like the Warren Grimes story.”
Kirby began his study of music at the age of 6 and continued formal piano instruction for 17 years. He worked under Robert Howat of Wittenberg University and Sylvia Zaremba at the Ohio State University. Kirby moved to New Orleans and began his professional music career as a street performer. In the following four years, he recorded the complete rags of Scott Joplin and made his debut at all of the major ragtime festivals in the United States, as well as festivals in Belgium, France, Norway, New Zealand and Hungary. He has composed over 150 original works for piano and other instruments.
The music and narratives at the Nov. 7 show will be accompanied by a video featuring nostalgic archival images from Champaign County’s past, as well as photography and Kirby’s own watercolor paintings of his native community.
The program is presented by the Champaign County Historical Society and the Champaign County Arts Council with special accommodations by the GrandWorks Foundation.
A version of this show will be presented to various Champaign County schools throughout the year, and is sponsored by The Grimes Foundation, the Peoples Savings Bank of Urbana, Allen and Sue Maurice, Ned Kirby, Lilli Johnson and the Medicine Shoppe of Urbana.
Reach Brenda Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.