Category Archives: Naperville ArtsVision

BEHIND RIBFEST – Feature-Length Documentary Film Provides All-Access Behind-the-Scenes Look at Naperville Ribfest

by Stuart Meyer

For the past 26 years, the Naperville Exchange Club has produced Naperville Ribfest as a charitable event which donates 100% of net proceeds toward the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence.  Prepare to be entertained and inspired as you journey behind-the-scenes of the Naperville Ribfest for an exclusive inside look at every aspect of this volunteer-run charitable BBQ and music festival.  Behind Ribfest  is a feature-length documentary film produced by my production company, Social Frequency Media Communications, and after making some rounds at film festivals we’ve decided to release the film online in two parts.  We hope you’ll watch and share this film with others.  Watch the film below or simply click here.

The Many Ways Naperville’s Kidz Kabaret Helps Our Kidz

Annie_Ben takes a Bow

My youngest son, pictured in the middle, has found his passion in theater through Kidz Kabaret.

by Stuart Meyer

As any parent knows, no two children are the same.  As a matter of fact, its been my experience that siblings tend to be opposite in personality, interests and behavior.

As a parent, my dream for my children is for them to discover their own unique dream and support them as much as I can in their journey.

While my oldest son is a natural-born competitive athlete, it’s been a process of elimination for my youngest son in his journey to discover his own unique niche.

Over the past few years, we’ve worked our way through soccer, t-ball, cub scouts, coach pitch baseball, football and pottery.  He loved the pottery class he took through our incredible Naperville Parks District and this Summer took the leap, participated in a Theater day camp at Kidz Kabaret here in Naperville and fell in love.

The one detail I’ve left out is the fact my youngest son is a pretty shy kid and often struggles in relating and communicating with other kids.  Of course, once he gets comfortable just sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

Kidz Kabaret and its 501(c)(3) Fair Lady Productions is a Naperville-based non-audition children’s theater company that began in 2003 as a summer stock performance in Executive Director Kandiss Hernandez’s backyard.  Today, their facility on Quincy Avenue is pretty incredible in terms of its size, theater and rehearsal space.

“Non-Audition” means every kid gets a chance to perform even if that means having 15 different casts each with their own performance date.  They focus on helping kids develop self-confidence while learning the many exciting aspects of theater production.

For my son, the Summer Theater Camp “Aladdin” performance at Kidz Kabaret led to the Fall program where he performed in “Annie Jr.” to the Winter program where he just finished “It’s a Fairy Tale Life” heading toward the Spring Program. We were pretty amazed by how well these pint-sized triple threats were able to put it all together with the support of the Kidz Kabaret teachers.  Even more, we were blown away to see our little shy guy acting and singing solos… on a stage… with bright lights… in front of an audience.

It’s all the more comforting to see the absence of competitiveness and the sense that the biggest stage Kidz Kabaret is preparing our children for is the stage of life… to help them build confidence, commitment and discipline… to learn how to communicate… to work together as a cast… to express themselves and to enjoy the arts.

That’s about as much as a parent could ask for.  While there are plenty of great performance arts programs and activities in and around Naperville, I’m particularly grateful for the efforts of the whole crew at Kidz Kabaret.  Special thanks to De!  

Kidz Kabaret is located at 1665 Quincy Avenue, Suite 143 in Naperville and their Executive Director is Kandiss Hernandez.  You can learn more on their website at

Association Publishing Magazine Features Composer and Filmmaker Stuart Meyer in September/October 2009 Issue

Association Publishing ArticleMy advance apologies for the dreadfully ego-centric sounding headline above.  I simply wanted to make sure this posting was optimized for search engine results… or “SEO” as it is called… which translates into posting views and insures that this story might reach a wider audience.

As many of you know, I’ve spent the second half of this year making the transition toward living and sustaining my life purpose.  This wonderful article, written by the very talented Carla Kalogeridis, provides a deeper perspective on how I am working to translate my humbling gifts and talents into my daily vocation as composer, filmmaker and not-for-profit social media consultant.

Earlier this year, as a step along this journey, I voluntarily composed a theme song (click here to listen) for the Association Forum to be used as a source of motivation for all the not-for-profit association professionals out there who have weathered a very difficult year.  The title of the theme song is “Go the Distance” which pretty much says it all to anyone from any walk of life who has endured this year of economic heartbreak and setbacks.

Within the past couple of months, I was contacted by Association Publishing Magazine about their interest in writing an article about the story behind this piece of music.  If you click here you can read the full article.

As the journey continues, I also invite you to support my current documentary film project, Imprévu – The Kenneth von Heidecke Storywhich is an inspiring story about a blue-collar Midwestern kid from Chicago who faces unimaginable triumph and tragedy in pursuing professional and international acclaim in the world of ballet.

When I first met Ken, I knew this was a powerful story that had to be told in a way that is as uniquely creative and as beautifully artistic as his life.  This film will not be your typical documentary, but rather an emotive and inspiring cinematic journey that well leave audiences reflecting, and hopefully acting upon their own inexhaustible purpose and calling in life.

Please join the official Imprévu film group on Facebook by clicking here where you can read our production diary dating back to 2008, listen to clips of film music I’ve composed and see our growing collection of production photos. I also welcome you to spread the word.

My 5 Questions Article from the Monday Edition of the Naperville Sun

sun-article1It is with humble good fortune that I was recently selected to be highlighted in the Naperville Sun’s “5 Questions” feature, which was published on Monday, January 19th. 

I first want to thank long-time Naperville Sun writer Kathy Millen for sharing her considerable talents in capturing and sharing my story.  Further, I also offer my deepest thanks to photo journalist Danielle Gardner, of the Naperville Sun, for her artistic talents in capturing a great photo image of me working within my studio which ran with the story.   On behalf of our community, we thank the both of you for sharing your passion and purpose in continuing to share Naperville stories.  

To access the complete story, CLICK HERE.  SM

6 Tips for Discovering and Living Your Unique Purpose

horizonMy own road in life has been a twisting journey of purpose with each day offering the possibility of a new piece of the puzzle being revealed.  As I’ve written recently, there are many out there within our Naperville community and beyond who have felt the crush of our nation’s economic collapse over the past year.  Despite the tough times, in many ways the slowdown may very well provide the perfect conditions to connect/re-connect with your own unique purpose in life.

We all have a unique purpose within our heart and soul which I believe keeps tapping us on the back throughout our lives despite the free will we exercise in attempting to make what we believe are the best decisions for ourselves in “the moment”.

As I’ve said, it doesn’t matter the size of stage or economic reward attached, it’s all about finding true meaning and fulfillment in life.  Even better, in taking the journey down your own path of your uniquely prescribed purpose, you might just discover that all of those material trappings aren’t quite as important as they once seemed.  Inspired and inspiring lives emerge not from the material of the world, but rather the material of the soul.  Further, always remember that money is merely a measure of survival, not purpose.

To help you on your way, below are 6 tips I’ve used to guide my way along my own path of purpose in life:

1)  Throughout your life, what interests/experiences have consistently filled your heart with a joy and happiness that is unique to  you and you alone?

2) What do you enjoy doing so much that the constraint of time seems to slip away, yet it still feels effortless and energizing?

3) If you could help others in a way that is your own unique contribution measured not by external recognition/validation but only by internal reward and satisfaction, how would you do so?

4) Once the answers to the first three questions begin to emerge yielding an internal sense of truth, try to connect with at least one other person outside of your immediate life who can understand and relate to your purpose.

5)  Focus your energy on the “what” not the “how” so as not to construct a wall of self-adversity.  An act of purpose could be something as simple as sharing it with someone else. 

6)  Write in a journal as often as possible specifically about the many elements, possibilities and dimensions of your purpose.  Don’t hold back, on paper anything is possible. 

Though I have many more ideas, experiences and thoughts on the subject of purpose, this should help you get started.  In the meantime, perhaps a first step for you might be sharing your thoughts here in the form of a comment.   So what are you waiting for?  SM

PART 2: An Inside Look at the New North Central College Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center

dsc_0156In my mind, the early pre-construction artist renderings of the new North Central College Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center did not adequately convey the depth of architectural form which can be found in the final product.  The facility is as alluring on the outside as it is on the inside.  Stacked shapes and sharp angles adorn the grand two-story convex panoramic glass front of the center.   

My entrance to the interior of the center was delayed by a series of photographs I captured as the afternoon lighting created an amazing perspective of the building.  Upon entering, I was greeted by Ted Slowick and after dropping my coat off, we were on our way. 

Our first stop was the art gallery which has already featured its first exhibit and is gearing up for yet another.  Anyone can access the gallery free of charge during regular hours during exhibits.  In my mind, the gallery was a great idea to draw in the community on what will hopefully be a regular basis. 

picture5After the gallery, we took a brief walk through the lobby into the facility’s centerpiece, the Wentz Concert Hall.  As a musician and composer I was quite excited about finally getting inside this space.  I had heard much about the structural and acoustical design strategy.  The first thing you notice right away as you walk through the double doors is the realtive intimacy of the space matched by little or no “dead” space.  Our quieted voices carried freely around the interior.  While there is a basic speaker setup flying overhead, it’s clear to see that it would be largely unnecessary even for the smallest ensemble.  

Perhaps the coolest aspect of the Wentz Concert Hall is not only the general acoustics but the acoustical variability which has been built into the space.  What does this mean you might ask?  It means the actual physical room can be altered to create the perfect acoustically treated environment based on the needs and characteristics of each performance group.  For staters, there are two reverb chambers flanking the stage at the balcony level.  These spaces take in the ambient sound in the hall picture3through a pourous surface and works its way up and over the top to be re-introduced into the hall high above.  What it means to the audience is your head will not spin from swirling reverb hitting you constantly at ear level.  In a way, the sound is recycled and re-introduced into the room at consistent balanced levels regardless of where you sit. 

Additionally, high above the stage there are curtains that can be raised and lowered which serve to vary the amount of sound absorption based upon the size of the performance group.  Becuase of the acoustics and modest size, Ted mentioned that there has been quite a bit of interest to utilize the space for recording sessions.  

picture1The interior design of the concert hall reminds me allot of a large modern church.  Perhaps it’s the choir seating which hovers just above and behind the main stage.  The stage itself is as basic and  as bare as it gets.  Nonetheless, make no mistake, this is a music space which is fine tuned for the highest quality listening experience rather than overly ornate gandure.

After spending a few minutes on the stage, I can imagine that performers will find this space as exciting as the audience in terms of acoustics.  The only thing missing on the stage was the center’s Steinway grand piano which I would have loved to sample in the concert hall’s environment.  Regardless, we would run into that Steinway later on.

picture6After the Wentz Concert Hall, our next stop after a quick trip down a set of stairs was the black box theater, which is a small intimate flexible space which can be used in a number of different configurations.  Fear not, this space is fully equipped and it reminded me allot of being in a television studio or small sound stage. 

Our next stop after the black box theater was what I would call the center’s “backstage” which consists of an array of rehearsal and classroom spaces amidst the green room and dressing rooms for concert hall and black box theater.  It’s amazing how the interior feel of the building quickly shifts from a performing arts center to an academic space.  The good news is we finally encountered that Steinway grand piano I mentioned earlier and Ted indulged me in playing a few passages from one of my recent compositions for my film project, Imprévu – The Kenneth von Heidecke Story.

picture4 I could also hear the muffled sound of students rehearsing a variety of instruments as we walked down the halls.  It’s clear this facility is a huge huge huge boost to North Central College’s music program. 

As we rounded out our tour, I provided some thoughts and perspectives to Ted on how North Central can maximize the community accesibility. 

First, I hope this space does not become a traditional “fine” arts only space as so many different types of musical forms and genres would provide a fascinating audience and perfomer experience in this space.  Further, while I was thrilled to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra play an early date after the facility’s opening, I was less than thrilled to see the $150/ticket price tag for a concert which appeared to have heavy corporate sponsorship as well.  Granted, I realize there are economic realities to hosting groups the size of CSO in a mid-sized concert hall; however, to me it sends a message to local audiences when a trip can be had to Symphony Center in Chicago for less. 

picture21Second, I took advantage of my time with Ted to pitch an idea of having open performance nights in which local artists might have an opportunity to take the stage and perform for the community.  Let’s face it, to achieve a level of sustainability for arts centers these days, “friendraising” is as important as fundraising.  My greatest hope is this center is as much a home for showcasing local artists as it is for visiting artists.   

Regardless, I am a fan of the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center and look forward to taking in my first performance in the near future.   As a community, I encourage everyone to rally around this facility and know that North Central College wants this to be not only an NCC facility but also a community institution.  The first season’s schedule is already underway and many opportunities to experience performances remain.  You can access the performance scedule by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, though Ted didn’t raise the issue, it goes without saying that while capital construction is complete, there is always a financial need for the ongoing operations and offerings for any arts center.  As such, I would like to issue an unsolicited personal challenge to you to consider making a donation to ensure a strong future for the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center.  You can do so by clicking on the MAKE A GIFT link here.  Let’s continue to support the continued evolution of world class arts in Naperville!  SM

PART 1: Photos of Visit to North Central College Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center


Thanks to Ted Slowik, former Naperville Sun news guru turned North Central College PR/Media Relations Director, I had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the brand new North Central College Wentz Concert Hall Fine Arts Center this evening. 

While I will be writing a more in-depth posting or two about the experience, I of course took a number of photos which I will be sharing as well. 

As the afternoon waned, I headed downtown, parked in the central parking garage and walked up the small hill toward the new arts center.  Given the timing of day and the fact we had been blessed with a sunny day here in Naperville, I captured this particular image even before stepping foot into the lobby to meet Ted.  It was amazing how the sun splashed the walls casting directional shadows and reflections. 

ncc_wentz-bw-exterior Of course, to those of you who may be familiar with my photography know that a color image is a rarity, especially when it comes to architecture.  Thus, so as not to disappoint, I also have a black-and-white image to share as well.  

It was definitely the perfect time of this January day to be walking up upon the western exposure of the arts center.  In the postings still to come, I will provide a perspective of the Wentz Concert Hall and Arts Center through my own eyes as a musician and composer and why I believe you must experience a performance in this space.  

To be continued.  SM