ASO Musicians Play at Capital Hotel This Evening


Scene from a previous ASO concert in the Capital Hotel lobby

Musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will be performing this evening in the lobby of the historic Capital Hotel.

In 2011, the ASO started these free concerts in the lobby of the Capital Hotel.  The marble and tile of this historic lobby provide a wonderful acoustic backdrop for the musicians.

The concert will feature short, accessible pieces along with commentary from the musicians.

Unlike concerts in music halls, guests here are encouraged to bring drinks to their seats or to stand and move around while the musicians are playing.  It is a relaxed, informal atmosphere where the audience and musicians alike are able to interact with each other.

This concert is part of the ASO’s ongoing efforts to play throughout the community under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann and Executive Director Christina Littlejohn.  In addition to the Capital Hotel concerts, they offer occasional free concerts at UAMS and have recently started the INC (Intimate Neighborhood Concerts) subscription series.

Science After Dark: How the World May End….Some Day

scienceafterdarkTonight, the Museum of Discovery’s monthly “Science After Dark” series returns with It’s Not the End of the World.  Science After Dark is a monthly program for adults 21 years and up.

Last month the Mayan “prediction” of the world ending did not come true.  Obviously. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t end some day.  Scientists have examined the life cycle of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies.  From this, they can extrapolate how the Earth might come to an end, years and years and years into the future.

Science after Dark occurs the last Wednesday of each month. Museum educators pick a science-related topic, and develop an event around it. The event is for ages 21 and older. General admission is $5 per person. Museum members get in free.

It is a great chance to explore the museum’s exhibits and enjoy downtown Little Rock.

LR Look Back: Mayor W. W. Stevenson

On this date in 1797, future Little Rock Mayor William Wilson Stevenson was born in South Carolina.  In 1811, he came to Arkansas when his family settled in Batesville.  An ordained Presbyterian minister, he married Ruana Trimble in 1821 and had two children.  After she died, he married Maria Tongray Watkins in 1831 and had two more children.

In 1831, he ran for Mayor in the first election for the office but was defeated by Dr. Matthew Cunningham.  The next year he ran to succeed Cunningham and was elected.  After leaving the Mayor’s office on December 31, 1833, he continued public service.  He was State Commissioner for Public Buildins in 1839.

In 1849, he delivered the funeral oration at the ceremony for Hon. Ambrose H. Seveier.  Later that year, he was hired as a geologist for the Little Rock and California Association which was created to take advantage of the gold rush.  He and his two oldest sons moved to California and never returned to Arkansas. He died in 1888.

No known photograph of Mayor Stevenson is known to exist.

Jets and Sharks in the Rock

Celebrity Attractions is bringing the national tour of West Side Story to Little Rock this week.  It will be at Robinson Center Music Hall on January 29, 30 and 31.

West Side Story features a book by Arthur Laurents and songs by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.  This modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet was originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

The show was originally on Broadway in 1957.  In 2009, an award-winning Broadway revival opened. The current tour is based on the revival.

For this tour, Arthur Laurents’ direction has been recreated by David Saint.  Joey McKneely reproduced the choreography both on Broadway and for the tour.  He studied West Side Story with Jerome Robbins as they worked on creating Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.

The design team includes James Youmans, David C. Woolard, Howell Binkley and Peter McBoyle.

For tickets, visit the Celebrity Attractions website.

Plans Announced for 2013 Literary Festival

lit fest logoLast week, the tenth annual Arkansas Literary Festival announced the plans for this year’s festival.

The premier gathering of readers and writers in Arkansas will include more than 80 presenters in locations on both sides of the river from April 18-21, 2013. The Main Library campus and other venues in the River Market and Argenta Arts districts are the sites for a stimulating mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops,presentations, opportunities to meet authors, book sales, and book signings. Most events are free and open to the public.

Festival authors include Richard Ford, Sylvia Day, Ben Fountain, Karen Russell, Ayana Mathis, Domingo Martinez, Da Chen, CD Wright, Pat Mora, Charles Todd, and more.

This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, James Beard Foundation Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Newbery Honor, National Book Critics Circle Award, a Coretta Scott King Honor, PEN/O.Henry Prize; Pushcart Prize; Barnes and Noble Discover Prize for Fiction, Roger Ebert’s Film Festival Thumbs Up Award, Pure Belpré Award, International Griffin Prize for Poetry, International Documentary Association Best Documentary Short, Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, and several National Book Award Finalists. Many of the presenters’ works have been translated into multiple languages and made into films.

Special events for adults during the Festival include a cocktail reception with the authors, food, wine, and spirits workshops, films, a play, and Spoken Word LIVE!, a city-wide poetry competition. Panels and workshops will feature topics such as fiction, memoir, screenwriting, super hero psychology & law, Warrior Writers Project, erotica, and more.

Children’s special events include a storytime on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion, a book fiesta, the artmobile, plays, outdoor activities, and Super Hero Activity Afternoon. Festival sessions for children will take place at both the new Children’s Library, 4800 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street.

Level 4, the Main Library’s teen center teens can meet authors and illustrators, participate in ComiCALS, activities and panels such as a cosplay contest, video game tournament, a writing workshop, and zombie survival activities.

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System; Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL); Department of Arkansas Heritage; Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau; Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Mosaic Templars Cultural Center; Regions; ProSmartPrinting; MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History; Historic Arkansas Museum; Clinton Presidential Center; Hendrix-Murphy Foundation; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Arkansas Times; Christ Church, Little Rock’s Downtown Episcopal Church; Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center; Arkansas Library Association; Henderson State College; University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service; Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre; Arkansas Governor’s Mansion; Hendrix College Creative Writing and the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature & Language; Hendrix College Project Pericles Program; Hendrix College; University of Arkansas at Little Rock, English Department; University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Department of Rhetoric and Writing; Pulaski Technical College; Jewish Federation of Arkansas; Arkansas Arts Center; Power 92 Jams; Central High School National Historic Site; National Park Service; Literacy Action of Central Arkansas; Capital Hotel; Little Rock Film Festival; and LuLav. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Author! Author!, a cocktail reception with the authors, will be Friday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $25 in advance, and $40 at the door.

GEE’S BEND at Arkansas Rep

Quilts are not just coverings for warmth, they often tell a story.  The quilts and quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama are the focus of the play Gee’s Bend, which opened on Friday night at the Arkansas Rep and continues through February 1

Gee’s Bend was written by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder.  It follows a group of women as they turn to quilting to provide comfort and creative expression to their lives. Pieced together from discarded clothes and seasoned with laughter and tears, the women sew a patchwork of inventive abstract designs in rich, blazing colors.

The play opens in 1939, with the beginning of the era of African-American land ownership. The story then advances to 1965, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement and the historic visit to Gee’s Bend by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The production concludes in 2002, on the eve of the unveiling of “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.

Gee’s Bend was commissioned by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writers Project, where it received a staged reading in 2006 and premiered in January 2007. A graduate of the dramatic writing program at New York University, Wilder received the American Theatre Critics Association’s 2008 Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright.

Gee’s Bend is directed by Gilbert McCauley, who has directed several plays previously at the Rep.  The cast features Corey Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Shannon Lamb and Monica Parks.   The design team includes Mike Nichols (scenery), Yslan Hicks (costumes), John Horner (lighting), Allan Branson (sound) and Lynda J. Kwallek (props). Robert Hupp is the Producing Artistic Director of the Arkansas Rep.

The Rep’s production of Gee’s Bend is supported and sponsored by The Design Group, Philander Smith College, Arora, Delta Airlines and the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.  It is also made possible in part by a grant from the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation, a component fund of the Arkansas Community Fund.

ASO and ASYO Concerts This Weekend

20121020-054530.jpgThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performs its first Masterworks concert of 2013 this weekend with performances at Robinson Center Music Hall on Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27.

Guest conductor Guillermo Figueroa takes the podium in a program featuring Beethoven’s classical masterpiece 2nd Symphony, Resphigi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, and the ASO’s own David Gerstein as he steps up from the Principal Cello chair to perform Tchaikovsky’s Mozart inspired Variations on a Rococo Theme.

David Gerstein, cello


David Gerstein, a devoted performer of chamber and contemporary music has played concerts all over the world, from the stage of Carnegie Hall to the Great Wall of China.

Mr. Gerstein has recently appeared in concert with the Ying Quartet, flutist Leone Buyse, clarinetist Michael Webster, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, soprano Renee Fleming, cellist Fred Sherry, violinist Jonathan Carney, and Vern Sutton of The Prairie Home Companion.


Guillermo Figueroa is Music Director of both the New Mexico Symphony and the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado as well as Principal Guest Conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony, with whom he performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall in 2003, the Kennedy Center in 2004 and Spain in 2005.

As a Guest Conductor in the US he has appeared with the Symphony orchestras of Detroit, New Jersey, Memphis, Phoenix, Colorado, Berkeley, Tucson, Santa Fe, Toledo, Fairfax, San Jose, Juilliard Orchestra and the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center.

Immediately after the Masterworks concert on Sunday January 27, the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra under the direction of Geoffrey Robson will perform a program featuring Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Beethoven’s Overture from Egmont. The FREE performance starts at 5pm on January 27 right after the ASO concert!