RobinsoNovember: Dr. William Grant Still

bhm StillLast night, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Opus Ball was the first public event in the William Grant Still Ballroom of Robinson Center.  This afternoon at 3pm, the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra is playing a Still composition in a performance with Ballet Arkansas at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple on Scott Street.

Dr. William Grant Still was a legend in his own lifetime.  Dr. Still, who wrote more than 150 compositions ranging from operas to arrangements of folk themes, is best known as a pioneer. He was the first African-American in the United States to have a symphonic composition performed by a major orchestra. He was the first to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the US; the first to conduct a major symphony in the south; first to conduct a white radio orchestra in New York City; first to have an opera produced by a major company. Dr. Still was also the first African-American to have an opera televised over a national network

Dr. Still was born May 11, 1895 in Woodville, Mississippi to parents who were teachers and musicians. When Dr. Still was only a few months old, his father died and his mother took him to Little Rock. Inspired by RCA Red Seal operatic recordings, his musical education began with violin lessons.

After his studies at Wilberforce University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, he played in orchestras and orchestrated for various employers including the great W. C. Handy. For several years he arranged and conducted the “Deep River Hour” over CBS and WOR.

In the 1920’s, Still made his first appearances as a serious composer in New York. Several fellowships and commissions followed. In 1994, his “Festive Overture” captured the Jubilee prize of the Cincinnati Symphony orchestra. In 1953, he won a Freedoms Foundation Award for “To You, America!” which honored West Point’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. In 1961, he received honors for this orchestral work, “The Peaceful Land”. Dr. Still also received numerous honorary degrees from various colleges and universities, as well as various awards and a citation from Arkansas Governor Dale Bumpers in 1972.

In 1939, Dr. Still married journalist and concert pianist Verna Avery, who became his principal collaborator. They remained together until Dr. Still’s death in 1978.  In a proclamation marking the centennial of Dr. Still’s birth, President Bill Clinton praised the composer for creating “works of such beauty and passion that they pierced the artificial barriers of race, nationality and time.”

In 1995, Dr. Still was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

15 Highlights of 2015 – Opera in the Rock and ASO presented THE MAGIC FLUTE

680 Magic Flute LogoFully-staged, full-length opera returned to the Rock for the first time in over a decade tonight and tomorrow!

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, in partnership with Opera In The Rock, opens the 2014-2015 Intimate Neighborhood Concerts series with Mozart’s Magic Flute. Performances were on January 22 and Friday January 23 at the Albert Pike Masonic Center in downtown Little Rock.  Dancers from Arkansas Festival Ballet also appear in the performances which is stage directed by Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) was written during the last year of Mozart’s life (1791). The opera was composed in the style of Singspiel (using sung and spoken text) and was an outlet for Mozart’s Masonic belief.

Magic Flute was an immediate success, performed over 100 times in the first two years of its existence. Mozart was not alive to see the 100th performance, having died only months after the premiere.

Tickets are $25; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online ; at the Albert Pike Masonic Center beginning 60 minutes prior to the concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100.  The Friday performance is sold out, but tickets remain for tonight’s opening.

CAST
Dana Pundt, Queen of the Night
Nicholas Nelson, Sarastro
Darren Drone, Papageno
Genevieve West Fulks, Papagena
Vernon DiCarlo, Tamino
Bonnie Frauenthal, Pamina

Others in the cast include Maria Fasciano DiCarlo, Stephanie Smittle, Kelley Ponder, Daniel Foltz-Morrison, Suzanne Banister, Kathryne Overturf, Satia Spencer, Robert Holden, Luke Frauenthal, Chase Burns and Sam Prescott

CHORUS
Sopranos: Alisa Dixon, Hayley Coughlin, Margaret McMurray, LaSheena Gordon
Altos: Claire Wilkinson, Melissa Wilcox, Sarah Blakey
Tenors: Adam Baldwin, Aaron Baker, Jonathan Treloggen, Josiah Wheeler, Sage Shaddox
Basses: J.J. Albrecht, Luke Frauenthal

PROGRAM
MOZART: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620 (text by Ruth and Thomas Martin)

Sandwich in History today at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple

Albert Pike Memorial TempleThe monthly architectural history program “Sandwiching in History” visits the Albert Pike Memorial Temple, located at 712 Scott Street. The program begins at noon today.  A historian with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program delivers a brief lecture about the church before leading guests on a tour.

Completed in 1924, the three-story, Classical Revival-style temple was designed by George R. Mann and Eugene John Stern for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. In 1952 a fire damaged the southern end of the building, which was rebuilt and rededicated in 1956. The building’s monumental front facade, which encompasses an entire city block, is lined with nineteen Ionic columns. The interior features beautifully decorated spaces with ornate plaster molding, stained-glass windows, and pink and gray marble.

Sandwiching in History is a program of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  The AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other DAH agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Historic Arkansas Museum.

 

Music inspired by Shakespeare focus of program with youth divisions of ASO and Ballet Arkansas

ballet_and_ASOYEThe future of the arts is on display tonight in downtown Little Rock at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple at 7:30pm

The Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra and Ballet Arkansas Preparatory Program present their annual partnership and a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  The music comes from musical works adapted from Shakespeare’s plays.

The program includes music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2, Bernstein’s West Side Story and Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” ASYO is the premier ensemble of the Arkansas Symphony Youth Ensembles Program.

 

For the 3rd consecutive year, the dancers from Ballet Arkansas’ Preparatory Program under the direction of Kim Nygren Cox join the members of the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra under the direction of Geoffrey Robson for a joint performance.

Don’t miss this delighful collaboration! $20 General Admission, $10 for Students

 

Day 3 of ACANSA offers A Little Poetry and a lot of music, theatre and art

Acansa day 3The third day of this year’s ACANSA Arts Festival offers theatre, music and art!  Four different stages offer opportunities to experience unique performances.

A Little Poetry: The Art of Alonzo Ford – 5:30PM reception (Arkansas Arts Center)

The exhibition will be on view September 15 to October 25, 2015 in the Arkansas Arts Center’s Sam Strauss, Jr., Gallery.

Alonzo Ford, grew up on farm in the Southland Community near Lexa, Arkansas. His figurative drawings focus on his memories of a life lived on his family farm. Ford enjoys creating with color and drawing landscapes that depict farm life and old buildings and active portraits. Stark figures engage in the daily activities Ford recalls from childhood leaving one with a sense of the activity, simplicity, and intimacy of mid-century rural life in Arkansas.

The Exchange – 7pm (Albert Pike Memorial Temple) $20 (general admission); $50 (A Capella Lounge); $10 students/military

In just the past year, The Exchange, debuted their original EP, toured with the Backstreet Boys, and had a featured spot on NBC&The Sing Off.; The bands explosive energy is ignited by their diversity in music styles ranging from rock to hip-hop to opera. This amazing A Capella group blends different styles and instrumentation, but its sound will always be defined;by the raw, soulful power of the human voice.

The A Capella Lounge – “Meet the Artists” reception after the performance.

 

“The Dork Knight” – 9pm (Arkansas Rep Black Box, 550 Main) $20 (general admission)

Jason O’Connell brings an iconic interpretation of his relationship with Batman through the years. His impersonations are so lifelike that if you close your eyes, you would swear you were in the room with Christian Bale or Jack Nicholson. O’Connell keeps audiences in rapt attention, at times laughing hysterically or mesmerized in complete silence and he takes you with him on this journey with Batman.

“Blood at the Root” – 8pm (Argenta Community Theatre) $30 (general admission) $15 (students/military)

Based on a true story of the Jena Six, Blood at the Root, written by Dominique Morriseau, is a play that touches on many social issues. Directed by Steve Broadnax, head of the Pennsylvania State theatre program, this play has received international acclaim on its tours through South Africa, Scotland and Australia. It is an exciting piece of work that breaks traditional convention. It speaks to where America is right now racially, economically, and socially. It is also a fun show with musicality, and an emphasis on movement. The inclusion of many different perspectives makes for an exciting, thought provoking performance. Please note: This performance contains strong language.

 

The Bo-Keys – 10pm (South on Main) $20 (general admission)

The Bo-Keys are a soul/jazz band from Memphis, formed as an homage to the city’s rich musical tradition. They keep the sound of classic Memphis R&B vital and contemporary.Featuring legendary singer Percy Wiggins and led by Grammy nominated producer-bassist Scott Bomar, group also includes historic session musicians from Stax and Hi Records studio bands

Earlier in the day – at noon, there is a Lunch and Learn at the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library.  It will feature a discussion of Arkansas art pottery by David E. Gifford. This program is free.

The Angela Davis Johnson Exhibit will be on display at the Argenta Gallery all day today (and through October 12). It has free admission as well. A reception will take place this evening.

Day 2 of ACANSA offers Laughs, Learning, Thrills and Thought-Provoking Moments

Acansa day 2The second day of this year’s ACANSA Arts Festival offers theatre, dance, music and art!  Four different stages offer opportunities to experience unique performances.

The Hot Sardines – 8pm (Clinton Presidential Park Lawn) $20 (reserved seating), $50 (includes Jazz Cafe), $10 (lawn only)

Take a blustery brass lineup, layer it over a rhythm section led by a stride-piano virtuoso in the Fats Waller vein, and tie the whole thing together with a one-of-the-boys front woman with a voice from another era, and you have the Hot Sardines. (We haven’t even told you about the tap dancer yet.)

“The Dork Knight” – 9pm (Arkansas Rep Black Box, 550 Main) 9pm

Jason O’Connell brings an iconic interpretation of his relationship with Batman through the years. His impersonations are so lifelike that if you close your eyes, you would swear you were in the room with Christian Bale or Jack Nicholson. O’Connell keeps audiences in rapt attention, at times laughing hysterically or mesmerized in complete silence and he takes you with him on this journey with Batman.

“Blood at the Root” – 8pm (Argenta Community Theatre) $30 (general admission) $15 (students/military)

Based on a true story of the Jena Six, Blood at the Root, written by Dominique Morriseau, is a play that touches on many social issues. Directed by Steve Broadnax, head of the Pennsylvania State theatre program, this play has received international acclaim on its tours through South Africa, Scotland and Australia. It is an exciting piece of work that breaks traditional convention. It speaks to where America is right now racially, economically, and socially. It is also a fun show with musicality, and an emphasis on movement. The inclusion of many different perspectives makes for an exciting, thought provoking performance. Please note: This performance contains strong language.

PUSH Physical Theatre – 7pm (North Little Rock Middle School Auditorium) $20 (general admission), $10 (students/military)

Seeing award-winning PUSH Physical Theatre is like watching a live-action movie. This talented group of performers inspires awe with physical illusions and gravity-defying, dance-infused, acrobatic high-jinx.

PUSH’s repeated sold-out performances have established them as the masters of physical storytelling.

Earlier in the day – at noon, there is a Lunch and Learn at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple.  It will feature a tour of the building and a chance to learn about its history. This program is free.

The Angela Davis Johnson Exhibit will be on display at the Argenta Gallery all day today (and through October 12). It has free admission as well. A reception will take place this evening.

Shorts and Features everywhere in Day 3 of 2015 Little Rock Film Festival

LRFF2015 longThe 2015 Little Rock Film Festival kicks into high gear today.  At 10am at the Ron Robinson Theatre there is an LRFFYOUTH! Screening of the film “Three Wishes Once Choice” and “Flowers in Concrete.”

Tired Moonlight will be shown at 11:15 at the Ron Robinson Theater. At 1pm, at the Butler Center, the documentary Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey looks at Hal Holbrook’s sixty year career of portraying Mark Twain. Also at 1, the film I Am the People will be shown at the Ron Robinson Theater.

At 3pm the Made in Arkansas Shorts (Block 2) will be shown at The Joint .  The films being shown are “MatchMaker” by Robin Sparks, “Hush” by Kenn Woodard, “Dim the Lights” by Dwight Chalmers, “The Pop N’ Lock” by Jadon Barnes, “Rapture Us” by Levi Agee, “The Ask” by Edmund Lowry and “Contact” by Alexander Jeffery.

“One, Two” World Shorts Block will also screen at 3pm.  It features “Biscayne World,” “one hitta quitta,” “Boxeadora,” “Day One,” “Hunter’s Fall,” and “Bookin’.”  It will be shown in the Bill and Margaret Clark Room on the 3rd floor of the River Market.

The Chinese Mayor will be screened at 3:30 in the Ron Robinson Theater. Also at 3:30, How to Dance in Ohio will be shown at the Butler Center.

At 4:45, the panel “Made in Arkansas: Can I Make a Living Doing This?” will take place in the Filmmakers Lounge.  Local working Filmmakers Bryan Stafford, Daniel Campbell, Brent Bailey, and UCA Professor Bruce Hutchinson discuss the current professional environment for filmmaking in the state of Arkansas. The panelists will share their secrets for making a living in the Industry without moving to the coasts. From producing your own work, to freelancing for the advertising community, to getting work on Hollywood productions in the surrounding states, this panel will help get you on your way to a career in film production right here at home.

At 5:30, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead will be shown at the Clinton School.  This film looks at three Harvard graduates who started the first national humor magazine for adults, launching the careers of some of Hollywood’s most legendary talent. Also at 5:30, Krisha will be shown in the Butler Center.  And at 5:30 as well, “Made in Arkansas” Shorts Block 1 will be shown.  It includes “Loser” by Andrew Lisle, “Forsaken” by Krisha Mason, “Monotony Broken” by J. C. Cocker, “Stranger Than Paradise” by Johnnie Brannon, “Rites” by Cody Harris, and “The Dealer’s Tale” by Justin Nickels.  These will be shown at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple.

Another round of “Made in Arkansas” Shorts will also be shown at 5:30.  Block 3 consists of “Undefeated” by Nathan Willis, “Little Brother” by Eric White, “Spoonin’ the Devil” by Michael Carpenter, “Meredith” by Scott Eggleston, and “The Town Where Nobody Lives” by Al Topich.  It will be shown at the Ron Robinson Theater.  Another “Made in Arkansas” film, this time the feature length The Grace of Jack will be shown at The Joint at 5:30.

Finally, the last 5:30 slot goes to “Quirks” World Shorts.  It features “The Department of Signs and Magical Intervention,” “Woman of the World,” “reConception,” “Happy Hour,” “Miss Famous,” “Love in the Time of March Madness,” and “Jake Plays First Base.”  This will be shown at the Bill and Margaret Clark Room on the third floor of the River Market.

At 8:00pm:

  • Uncertain – Ron Robinson Theater
  • King Jack – Butler Center
  • Made in Arkansas The Phone in the Attic – The Joint
  • “Made in Arkansas” Shorts Block 4 – Albert Pike Memorial Temple
    • “The Tricycle”-David Bogard, “What Was Lost”-Romello Williams, “Overgrown”-Bruce Hutchinson, “Pyro”-Cole Borgstadt, and “The Space Station”-Michael Sutterfield
  • “Explore” World Shorts Block – Bill and Margaret Clark Room
    • “Swimming in Your Skin Again,” “Beach Week,” “The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano,” “Displacements,” “Pequeño bloque de cemento con pelo alborotado conteniendo el mar” and “When I Write.”

At 10pm, the “Made in Arkansas” Blow Out at South on Main.  The party will feature food from the kitchen of executive chef Matthew Bell and feature cocktails from Mixologist David Burnette. Music performed by Isaac Alexander and band. This party is open to following pass holders: Sponsor, Filmmaker, Press, Gold, Silver, and Student.