LR Winds Holiday Concert tonight

LR Winds at UA-PTC CHARTSThe Little Rock Winds annual holiday concert takes place tonight (December 5). It features yuletide favorites performed with a cheerful chorus, delightful dancers, stunning soloists, and a right jolly old elf, all at UA-Pulaski Tech CHARTS Theater!

Under the direction of conductor Israel Getzov, guest artists include Michael Oriatti, tenor; Pat Walker, narrator; Arkansas Festival Ballet Performing Company with artistic director Rebecca Miller Stalcup; Sylvan Hills Choirs with director Elaine Bohannon Harris; Baton auction winner Michele King Hellstern, guest conductor.

There will be a silent auction before the concert, offering lots of items to fill those Christmas stockings. The auction opens at 6:30 p.m. and bidding will conclude at the end of the concert intermission.

AND there will be a photo booth for Selfies with Santa!

Creative Class 2016: Christen Burke Pitts

cc16-pittsDancer and choreographer only defines two of Christen Burke Pitts‘s involvement with the arts.  She and her family are also active supporters of the Arkansas film industry and are patrons of all of the performing arts.  But it is in dance that Christen probably makes her largest impact.

Since 1996, she has been the founder and director of the NLRHS Dance Program.  In that capacity, she teaches scores of students each year as well as choreographs musicals, plans workshops, and produces dance performances.  She received the 2012 Governor’s Arts in Education Award from the Arkansas Arts Council and was also named the 2012 Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association Teacher of the Year.

Christen holds her MEd from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a BA in Drama/minor in Dance Performance from the University of Arkansas. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, pointe, and musical theatre with various instructors across the country and trained at workshops/intensives with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, MOMIX, Pilobolus, Luigi, Frank Hatchett, Finis Jhung, Bill Hastings, and many others.

Christen has performed in over fifty shows throughout the South including Damn Yankees at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the Shoji Tabuchi Show and The Crystal Gayle Show in Branson, and numerous industrial shows. She has appeared in local and national commercials, “The Ernest Green Story” on The Disney Channel, and in television specials on The Family Channel. Christen was a company member of the Memphis Dance Ensemble and the University of Arkansas Dance Company.

She has taught dance workshops for the ARC National Performing Arts Camp, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre (Summer Theater Intensive-Camp Rep), Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association, and Arkansas Dance Network. A co-founder of the Arkansas Dance Network, she has also served been affiliated with ACANSA Arts Festival, the THEA Foundation, Arkansas Festival Ballet, and Argenta Community Theatre, among others.

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)

Dracula Unearthed at Wildwood Park

Dracula unearthedThursday, Friday and Saturday at Wildwood Park for the Arts, Arkansas Festival Ballet and Praeclara collaborate to tell a new Dracula story in song, dance, and dramatic narrative! Dracula’s servants help him rise from the grave, expecting him to resume his evil works — but instead, he becomes entangled in the life of his daughter, Wilhelmina, who does not realize what her father is. But how long can the count deny his own nature? And what will happen when Wilhelmina comes to truly know her father … and realizes what she herself may be?

This show is appropriate for adults and teens. Its story is told through the interaction of choreography and dramatic masterworks by Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Bartok, and more. Coffins, fog, and strobe lights will occasionally be used to set the mood on stage.

The Wildwood gates open at 6:30 p.m. for guests to enjoy a bit of life in the village of Bran before Dracula’s castle (thetheatre) opens for seating at 7:45. Enjoy the “Dead Ringers” handbell concert — take your picture with Dracula and his coffin — sample garlic-based hors d’oeuvres and bat-themed sweets!

Performances begin at 8pm.  Tickets are available at the Wildwood website.

Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE brings opera back to LR in joint venture of ASO and Opera in the Rock

680 Magic Flute LogoFully-staged, full-length opera returns 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 are on Thursday, January 22nd and Friday January 23rd at 7 p.m. 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.

The opera is filled with symbolism, especially focused on the number three.  Examples include the opening with Der Dreimalige Akkord, the thrice-repeated chord, three Ladies, three Spirits, and even the selection of key: E-flat major in three flats.

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)

About the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 49th season in 2014-2015, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, and performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools.

Opera In The Rock
Opera in the Rock is 501(c)3 professional opera company that was formed in the spring of 2012. Our mission is to enrich the cultural life of Arkansas through opera by utilizing local, state and regional talents. Our purpose is to produce main stage opera and a continuing opera review series, in addition to providing educational and outreach programs for our community youth through the Jennifer Boccarossa Young Artist Program. Our goal is to provide local, state and regional talents an opportunity to further their artistic careers. Opera In The Rock is partially funded by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Charlotte Gadberry

charlotte-gadberryCharlotte Gadberry has long been a supporter of Little Rock’s various cultural institutions. She has both served on boards and consulted with boards in strategic planning.  She is a Cultural Touchstone, however, because of her vision to found ACANSA Arts Festival.

A trip to Charleston, South Carolina, amid it’s Spoleto USA arts festival inspired her to dream that Little Rock could play host to a similar endeavor.  Using her fundraising prowess and connections, she started to raise funds, friends and awareness for this idea.

In September 2013, the inaugural ACANSA Arts Festival was announced for September 2014.  Under her leadership, ACANSA (a name derived from an early Native American variation of what is now called Arkansas) incorporated both local cultural institutions as well as performers brought in for the event.

It kicked off on a Tuesday with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion and concluded the following Sunday with a reception at Wildwood Park for the Arts.  In between there was theatre, dance, mime, puppetry, instrumental music, choral music, opera, jazz, painting, photography, history, lectures, and gallery tours.

Under her leadership as founder, plans are already underway for the next edition.  ACANSA Arts Festival 2015 is scheduled for September 16-20. Tickets go on sale next spring.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Lorraine Albert Cranford

Lorraine Albert Cranford formalized ballet training and performance in Little Rock.  Together with her husband, she was the founder of Ballet Arkansas—a company that traces its roots to the Little Rock Civic Ballet of the 1960s—as well as a dance teacher.

Lorraine Albert was born on September 4, 1918, in Steubenville, Ohio, to Henri Albert and Arthurine Van Klempette Albert. Her mother was a ballroom dancer who started her daughter in dance classes. By the time she was three, her family lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Albert studied ballet under Karl Heinrich in Pittsburgh and went to New York at age fifteen to continue her dance training. Her training was not limited to classical ballet, and she studied and danced in the same shows as famous performers such as Gene Kelly and George M. Cohen.

She married D. Cater Cranford, a dancer originally from Little Rock, with whom she had performed. They had one daughter. They moved to Dallas, Texas, and lived in a house formerly owned by the outlaw Belle Starr. In 1957, they founded the Cranford House of Ballet, which developed dancers for the Dallas Civic Ballet, later named the Dallas Ballet. The company was dissolved in 1988.

In 1966, D. Cater Cranford moved to Little Rock, where he founded the Little Rock Civic Ballet; Lorraine Cranford joined him in Little Rock later. D. Cater Cranford died in 1977, and Lorraine Cranford founded Ballet Arkansas in 1978. Ballet Arkansas is perhaps best known for its annual production of The Nutcracker, which had begun with the Little Rock Civic Ballet. Ballet Arkansas has also contributed to the formation of most of the other ballet companies in central Arkansas, such as the Arkansas Festival Ballet, established in 2000. In addition to her work establishing ballet schools and companies in Arkansas, Cranford was a teacher herself and even performed as the grandmother in The Nutcracker.

Cranford died on December 3, 2004.