42 Years of Arkansas Rep

On November 11, 1976, the curtain went up on the first Arkansas Repertory Theatre production.  It was the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht musical The Threepenny Opera.  Rep founder Cliff Baker directed the show and played the leading role of Macheath aka Mack the Knife.

Others in the cast included local attorney Herb Rule, Jean Lind, Theresa Glasscock, Connie Gordon and Guy Couch.  Byl Harriell was the technical director and production designer while Donia Crofton was the costume designer.

The production took place in the Rep’s home which was the converted former home of Hunter United Methodist Church on the eastern edge of MacArthur Park.  (Harriell’s business Bylites is now in that location.)

Baker had previously worked at the Arkansas Arts Center theatre when it was attached to a degree granting MFA program. He had also directed shows in other parts of Arkansas.  He returned to Little Rock and founded the Arkansas Philharmonic Theatre which performed in Hillcrest.  The Arkansas Repertory Theatre was a step forward with the establishment of a professional repertory company.

The first season of the Rep would include Company, Suddenly Last Summer, Marat/Sade, and Stop the World–I Want to Get Off. Season tickets for a total of seven shows were $30.

Baker served as Artistic Director of Arkansas Rep from 1976 until 1999.

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Little Rock Look Back: Little Rock Celebrates End of The Great War

Portion of a Pfeifer Brothers ad in November 11 1918 ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT

Portion of a Pfeifer Brothers ad in November 11 1918 ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT

When the residents of Little Rock awoke on Monday, November 11, 1918, they discovered that the Armistice had been signed.  A celebration of Peace broke out and continued on throughout the day.

The Arkansas Democrat (an afternoon paper) got the ball rolling when it issued a special edition at 2:27am that the treaty would be signed. In addition to being distributed around the City, copies were rushed to Arkansas Governor Charles Brough and Little Rock Mayor Charles Taylor.  Mayor Taylor declared he would issue a proclamation setting aside Saturday, November 16, as a day of celebration in the city.

Unwilling to wait that long, throngs of people filled the streets greeting each other with handshakes and hugs. From the wee hours of the morning through late at night, friends and strangers alike were treated as familiars as the celebratory love swept through the city.

Firecrackers, car horns, whistles, and church bells competed with each other and with the shouts of the citizenry in contributing to the din of celebration.  An impromptu parade formed at Third and Main around 9:00am and eventually stretched the length of Main Street’s business district.  Student forgot their studies and participated in the parade instead of going to the high school at Scott and 14th Street.  (While many businesses closed that day, the schools did not.  But one suspects that attendance was light.)

At 10am, there was five minutes of silence. Most men stopped and removed their hats while many women were seen offering silent prayers.  Then the Governor and Mayor addressed the crowds gathered at Capitol and Main Streets.

Two hundred recent arrivals from Puerto Rico who were in to Little Rock to work at a factory grabbed an American flag and joined in the parade once they were informed of the news. They joined a throng that cared not about race or ethnicity, class or status, faith background, gender, or occupation.

Three thousand employees of the Missouri Pacific Railroad marched in a parade led by a coffin with an effigy of Kaiser Wilhelm in it. Next came the railroad’s marching band, followed by row after row of railroad employees.  Interspersed were rail company trucks equipped with railroad bells which had been rung previously as part of war bond rallies. Now they were rung in tribute to peace and victory.

Around noon, the crowds moved back to sidewalks and side streets, turning Main Street and Capitol Street over to an automobile parade. Cars, trucks, and other vehicles were festooned with red, white, and blue bunting and packed with people.  Overhead throughout the day, airplanes performed acrobatic feats to the delight of crowds below.

Government offices closed early as did factories and most businesses.  About the only people working that day seemed to be the Little Rock police.  They reported no major incidents, although one officer did have to rescue his hat from being nearly trampled by a group of dancing women.  The only quibble seems to have come from various groups claiming to have been the first to start the celebration.

A Full Fall Weekend with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Tonight (11/10) and tomorrow, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has a full slate of activities, perfect for enjoying the autumnal weather.

While the centerpiece is the concert (7:30 pm on Saturday and 3:00 pm on Sunday), things kick off with a new festival celebrating local community organizations, arts and crafts, food trucks, and brews!

Symphony Local will celebrate local community organizations, including Arkansas Foodbank, and local arts and crafts vendors. Food trucks and drink vendors include Lost 40 Brewing, Say Cheese, Adobo-to-Go, Arkansas Heart Hospital Food Truck ‘Food from the Heart,’ Adams Mobile BBQ and more.

The festival takes place on Markham Street in front of Robinson Center prior to the concert from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and admission is free with a concert ticket to Elgar’s Enigma.

Once again, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is partnering with Arkansas Foodbank to help provide food to those in need. Arkansas Symphony patrons can help by bringing non-perishable food items to the Symphony Local festival. Anyone who brings 10 or more non-perishable food items will receive a voucher good for one pair of tickets to any upcoming ASO concert in the 2018-2019 season.

Also prior to the concert is the Concert Conversation.  All concert ticket holders are invited to a pre-concert lecture an hour before each Masterworks concert. These talks feature insights from the Maestro and guest artists, and feature musical examples to enrich the concert experience.

The talks are one hour before each Masterworks concert, 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. The talks are in the Robinson Performance Hall’s Upper Tier Lobby. Take the elevators on the East (Doubletree) side of the building to the Upper Tier level. Exit the elevators and walk forward to the lobby.

The concerts begin at 7:30 p.m on Saturday , November 10th and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 11th. Guest conductor Sara Ioannides will begin the concert with Joan Tower’s Made in America. The program continues with Smetana’s The Moldau and Šárka from his set of symphonic poems entitled Má Vlast, and concludes with Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust. Elgar’s Enigma is sponsored by Doubletree Hotel.

 

Community Input sought by CALS

The Central Arkansas Library System is undergoing a strategic planning process, and they would like your input and comments.

As part of the process, CALS is conducting an online community survey.  They encourage all residents – whether or not you use the Library regularly – to complete the survey.

The community survey is available online (English | Español) through December 15th.  Paper, hard copies of the survey will also be available at Library facilities.  The short survey only takes about 10 minutes to complete.  It includes an open-ended comment section, and all suggestions for the future directions of the Library are encouraged.

The survey is being conducted by the independent, Library Strategies Consulting Group, and all individual responses will be confidential. Only aggregate responses will be reported to the Library Board and administration.

The community survey, along with other Library data and trends, and input from the staff, Board and other key stakeholders, will form the basis for the strategic plan.  The plan is expected to be completed and approved in the first quarter of next year.

This weekend’s ASO guest conductor Sarah Ionnides speaks today at the Clinton School

This weekend, Sarah Ioannides is guest conductor with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Today at noon, she is featured at the Clinton School Speaker Series.

Sarah Ioannides has received international acclaim for her work as a conductor. She has been listed as one of the top twenty female conductors worldwide by Lebrecht’s “Woman Conductors: The Power List,” and described by the LA Times as “one of the six female conductors breaking the glass podium.” Ioannides is a recipient of the Joann Falletta award for the most promising female conductor.

She is now in her 5th season as Music Director of the Symphony Tacoma. Previously she was Music Director with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra from 2005-17 and the El Paso Symphony between 2005-11. Under her leadership both Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Tacoma have received ArtWorks grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for creativity in collaboration, community, and commissioning projects and is now well recognized for her skills as a musical curator and adventurous programming.

In her career, Ioannides has had guest engagement spanning 6 continents. She has conducted the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Nationale de Lyon, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Flemish Radio Orchestra, National Symphony of Colombia, Daejeon Philharmonic, Translyvannia Philharmonic Orchestra, Wuttenbergisches Kammerorchester, and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.

Ioannides has also led orchestras extensively in the United States including the Buffalo Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, Hawai’i Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, New West Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, and Tulsa Symphony with numerous return engagements. Ioannides has also appeared in special engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Little Rock Look Back: LR voters create Airport Commission

On November 7, 1950, Little Rock voters approved the creation of the Little Rock Airport Commission.  This was an extremely rare initiated ordinance.

Local business leaders had tried two times prior to get the City Council to create an Airport Commission.  At the time, the Airport was managed by the Council’s Airport Committee, composed of aldermen.  Both times, the Council rejected the measure.  This prompted an organization called the Private Flyers Association to begin the drive to collect the signatures to place the ordinance on the ballot.  Mayor Sam Wassell was in favor of the creation of the separate commission to oversee the airport and was a member of the Private Flyers Association.

At the general election on November 7, 1950, the ordinance was on the ballot.  It passed with an overwhelming majority: 13,025 voters approved of it, and only 3,206 opposed it.  The Arkansas Gazette had been a proponent of the switch, endorsing it with a front page editorial entitled “An Airport for the Air Age.”

In many ways this movement was a precursor to Little Rock’s switch to the City Manager form of government later in the decade.  Where once the business leadership and city council had been one and the same, over the 1940s the two diverged.  Business leaders were less interested in party politics (and at the time the city races were partisan affairs) and more interested in professionally run government.  The main argument for a separate commission was that it would allow the airport to be run more efficiently and removed from party politics.  These would be the same arguments used by the Good Government Committee in 1956.

Also on the ballot in 1950 was a GOP challenger to a Democrat for one of the aldermen positions.  George D. Kelley, Jr., ran against incumbent Lee H. Evans.  Kelley was the first GOP contestant for a city race since Pratt Remmel ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 1938.  Remmel would be back on the ballot in 1951, this time for the position of mayor in a successful effort.

187 years since Little Rock was chartered

With the stroke of Territorial Governor John Pope’s pen, Little Rock was officially chartered as a town on November 7, 1831. This followed approval by the Arkansas legislature a few days earlier.

As a chartered, officially recognized municipality, the Town of Little Rock was authorized to create a government and to plan for a Mayor and Aldermen to be elected. That election would take place in January 1832 with the initial council meeting later that month.

There are several earlier and later days which could be used to mark Little Rock’s official birth (La Harpe sighting in 1722, first settler in 1812, permanent settlement in 1820, selection of trustees in 1825, chartered as a City in 1835, chartered as a City of First Class in 1875) — but it is November 7, 1831, which has been the officially recognized and accepted date.

In 1931, Little Rock celebrated her centennial with a series of events.  Likewise, in November 1981, Little Rock Mayor Charles Bussey signed and City Clerk Jane Czech attested Resolution 6,687 which recognized the Little Rock sesquicentennial.