October is Arts and Humanities Month nationally and in Little Rock. Americans for the Arts has identified a different arts topic to be posted for each day in the month. Today’s focus is “Behind the Scenes.”
In 2017, I had the rare privilege of sitting on the stage during an Arkansas Symphony Orchestra rehearsal. These are some of the photos I took from that time. It was exciting to not only hear the music up close but the see the musicians interact with each other on breaks. My appreciation for the ASO musicians (which was already high) grew even more so that evening.
As I was seated next to the violins, most of the photos are of the strings section. I tried to be as subtle as possible in taking the photos.
Festival of the Senses, the free performing arts series sponsored by Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church at 4106 JFK Boulevard, again presents the ARmusica duo of Julie Cheek on piano and Andrew Irvin Tuesday, April 2, at 7:00 p.m. in a program of “Spring Surprises”: music by composers Arvo Pärt and Ludwig von Beethoven, plus a selection of beloved musical themes from the movies by Ennio Morricone and John Williams.
Julie Cheek, a Little Rock native who made her professional debut at age 14 as a soloist with the Arkansas Chamber Orchestra, has performed and held master classes with orchestras across America and Europe and has traveled around the world as a popular entertainer on several cruise lines. She continues to teach at Interlochen and elsewhere and to concertize throughout the U.S.
Violinist Andrew Irvin, concertmaster of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), has played his 1765 Gagliano violin in concerts throughout North America and Europe. In addition to being a cofounder of ARmusica in 2012, he is a member of the Irvin/Christopher Duo and the Camino Trio and has recorded on the Potenza and Naxos labels.
This season marks the eighth year of Festival of the Senses, with nine events spotlighting some of the region’s most distinguished and dedicated musicians and artists. Designed as a gift of the arts to the community to entertain, enlighten, and inspire, all events are free and open to the public. The performance will be followed by a reception in the parish hall for attendees to meet and greet the performers.
Come see the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles perform in the annual Mid-Winter Youth Orchestra concert at 6 pm at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center.
The four groups performing will be:
- Preparatory Orchestra, conducted by Casey Buck
- Prelude Orchestra, co-conducted by Andrew Irvin and Kiril Laskarov
- Academy Orchestra, conducted by Tom McDonald
- Youth Orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey Robson
Ranging in age from 9-18 and traveling from over 37 communities throughout the state, the ASYO has grown to over 200 members.
These youth work hard throughout the year on the music, which is often over and above their efforts with school music programs and individual private lessons. The conductors choose music that is challenging for them but also appropriate for the level of the ensemble. They also have the opportunity to interact with the professional musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra throughout the year.
$10 tickets can be purchased at the door or atwww.ArkansasSymphony.org
Tonight (January 14) at 7pm at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Drew Irvin, Stephen Feldman, and friends will perform the Mozart Clarinet Quintet.
Also on the program is the premier of the work “The Fence, The Rooftop And The Distant Sea”, by Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh for string quartet and clarinet.
Tickets are available at the door for a suggested donation of $15. Students are admitted for free with I.D.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth concert of the 2015-2016 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series: Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 10, at 7 PM Tuesday March 1, 2016 at the Clinton Presidential Center’s Great Hall.
ASO musicians present a chamber music showcase in the beautiful Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, featuring works from Prokofiev, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Bach in various ensembles.
A cash bar is open at 6 PM and at intermission, and patrons are invited to carry drinks into the hall. Media sponsor for the River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series is KUAR/KLRE.
Tickets are $23; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Clinton Presidential Center beginning 60 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100.
Geoffrey Robson, violin/conductor
- Trisha McGovern Freeney, violin
- Katherine Williamson, violin
- Katherine Reynolds, viola
- Aaron Ludwig, cello
Vernon Di Carlo, tenor
Tatiana Roitman, piano
Andrew Irvin, Kiril Laskarov, Eric Hayward, Meredith Maddox Hicks, Leanne Day-Simpson, Sandra McDonald, Yennifer Correia, violins
Ryan Mooney, Katrina Weeks, violas
David Gerstein, Ethan Young, cellos
Barron Weir, bass
Carl Anthony, harpsichord
PROKOFIEV – Sonata for Two Violins in C Major, Op. 56
BEETHOVEN – String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18 No. 4
MENDELSSOHN – Selection of Songs for Voice and Piano
BACH – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BW 1048
MENDELSSOHN – String Symphony No. 10 in B minor
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will showcase Concertmaster Andrew Irvin’s 250 year old Gagliano violin on October 27 as part of the ASO’s 2015-2016 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music series at 7 PM. The program features Mr. Irvin and his exceptional violin in various ensemble settings in the beautiful Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, performing music spanning the quarter-century life of the instrument.
The program includes:
- Mozart – Sonata for Violin and Piano
- Shostakovich – String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 122
A cash bar is open at 6 PM and at intermission, and patrons are invited to carry their drinks into the hall. The media sponsor for the River Rhapsodies Chamber Series is KUAR/KLRE.
General admission tickets are $23; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org, at the Clinton Presidential Center box office beginning 60 minutes prior to the concert, or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100
“Great instruments require skilled musician hands to come alive — yet in these hands, they become personified beings that dwell in a realm unshackled from the bonds of time — and in so doing, connect musicians across centuries through the uniquely profound relationship that musicians have with their instruments. Mr. Irvin’s violin is a direct connection to musical history. Its previous masters’ preferences are infused in is tone, their gaffes inscribed upon its body, and its surface is a story of centuries of perspiration and effort in service to art. Musicians are merely the caretakers, or curators, of these instruments for a short human lifespan, and this program is a celebration of not only an instrument’s anniversary, but of all the musicians since 1765 who have made it possible.” – Philip Mann, music director
About the violin
The violin was made by Nicolo Gagliano in approximately 1765 (Gagliano marked his violins by decade only, so the exact date is unknown) in Naples, Italy. Headed by Alessandro Gagliano, the Neapolitan school of violin makers is considered to be among the pinnacles of high quality musical artisanship. Alessandro’s son, Nicolo, is possibly the greatest of the Gagliano luthiers. His legacy began with his four sons employed in his workshop and lasted well into the 20th Century, ending when the firm of Vincenzo Gagliano and Sons closed in 1925.
Before 1820 violins had shorter necks set up for gut strings, which have lower tension than modern steel strings. Composers like Beethoven demanded higher pitches and more sound, which drove changes to violin constructions. Violins were refitted with a longer neck for an increased range and the body was reinforced to handle the increased tension of more resonant steel strings.
Michael Purcell of Philadelphia maintains the violin, and Mr. Irvin returns to his shop twice a year for maintenance.