A Celebration of Art Porter Sr. tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.

Tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre, Arkansas Sounds is hosting a special presentation of rare video and audio clips and photographs, as well as a panel discussion celebrating the continued legacy and eighty-fifth birthday of Arkansas pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher Art Porter Sr. This event is co-sponsored by AETN.

Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. They can be made here.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

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CALS seeking public input as part of strategic planning process

The Central Arkansas Library System is going through a strategic-planning process.  As part of that, they are asking people to take a few minutes to fill out a survey.

It does not take long.

There is no capturing of email or phone number at the end which will end up putting you on a list to be barraged with offers.

It helps the Central Arkansas Library System and all of its programs such as the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Sounds, Arkansas Literary Festival, and the list goes on.

Here is the link.

LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Tonight at 7, Arkansas Sounds salutes composers Florence Price and William Grant Still at Ron Robinson Theater

AR Sounds price_stillTwo of the leading American classical music composers in the first half of the 20th Century were from Arkansas and were African American.  Tonight (February 26) Arkansas Sounds pays tribute to Florence B. Price and William Grant Still in a program at 7pm at the Ron Robinson Theater.

Arkansas Sounds pays tribute to two of Arkansas’s most highly acclaimed African American classical composers with a screening of The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price followed by performances of Price’s and Still’s compositions by members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and the ASO Youth Orchestra. The film’s length is approximately 1 hour.

Little Rock native Florence Price (1887-1953) was the first African American female classical composer to have her composition played by a major American symphony orchestra. The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price traces Price’s life, detailing her cultured childhood in an extraordinarily gifted family, her struggles and eventual departure from the South due to racial tension, and her great artistic impact and success. Her compositions were favored by famed soprano Marian Anderson, and in 1933, her “Symphony in E Minor” was performed at the Chicago World’s Fair by the Chicago Symphony.

Born in Woodville, Mississippi, and raised in Little Rock, William Grant Still (1895-1978) achieved national and international acclaim as a composer of symphonic and popular music and, as an African American, was hailed for breaking race barriers of his time. His Afro-American Symphony was the first symphony composed by an African American to be played by a major symphony orchestra and is still performed today. Still was a prolific composer whose work includes symphonies, ballets, operas, chamber music, and works for solo instruments, totaling nearly 200. He also received numerous honors and achievements such as the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1934, 1935, and 1938. He also received eight honorary degrees from institutions such as Oberlin College, the University of Arkansas, Pepperdine University, and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) comprises the state’s most sought-after professional musicians and is celebrating its 50th season. The ASO Youth Orchestra comprises over 200 student musicians, ages 9-18, who travel from over thirty-seven communities throughout Arkansas.

Arkansas Sounds presents Mad Nomad and Ghost Bones at the CALS Ron Robinson tonight

arkansas_sounds_2013Tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, Arkansas Sounds presents Mad Nomad and Ghost Bones.

This evening evening of fresh, energetic, indie rock music will begin at 7pm.  Tickets are $10.

Mad Nomad performs melodic, high powered, heavy rock music that has been described as “informed by…the Replacements, Built to Spill, Dinosaur Jr. and unabashedly guitar-centric.” (Robert Bell, Arkansas Times) The band’s style has also been classified as “a cohesive mix of hard rock, punk, scream metal, ’90s pop rock and even twinges of ’80s metal, all held together with an accessible and undeniable sense of melody.” (Sean Clancy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) Based in Little Rock and founded in September 2012, Mad Nomad won the 2014 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Ghost Bones plays post-punk, alternative dance rock music that may be described as urgent, angular, and inspired by art school sensibilities. It is a young and experimental band that strives to create an original sound that appeals to a mass audience. At a time when the alternative rock scene is dominated by male bands, Ghost Bones has drawn attention as a female-fronted band. Based in Hot Springs and founded in September 2014, Ghost Bones won the 2015 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Arkansas Sounds and Arkansas Times present premiere of URANIA DESCENDING film tonight

urania_descendingThe U.S. premiere of a film by Arkansas’s Tav Falco, a musician, artist, author, and filmmaker, who will hold an audience discussion after the screening. The film’s length is 1 hour, 8 minutes. This event is presented by Arkansas Sounds in partnership with the Arkansas Times.

The screening is free and open to the public.  It begins at 7pm in the CALS Ron Robinson Theater.

Urania Descending is described as “a black and white film poem infused with metaphor and mood, where the past overtakes the present…the story of an American girl on a one-way ticket to merry/sinister old Vienna who becomes embroiled in an intrigue to uncover buried Nazi plunder.”

Tav Falco has created films for over fifteen years, working with performers, artists, and directors such as Winona Ryder, Bruce MacDonald, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Iggy Pop.

Hear the sounds of Arkansas at Arkansas Sounds Holiday Concert tonight

RRT holiday concertThe Dave Rosen Big Band and the Maumelle High School Jazz Band will play Christmas and holiday favorites with jazz and swing arrangements at this free concert.

The Dave Rosen Big Band, led by local musical instrument store owner Dave Rosen, is an 18-piece big band jazz powerhouse. These top-notch musicians have been playing classics from the Big Band and Jazz eras since 2004.

Led by band director Carl Mouton, the Maumelle High School Jazz Band plays a variety of music, representing different styles of music and cultures. MHS Jazz Band students learn to improvise within a song using the given chords as a guide. They put these skills to work by performing at local holiday and spring concerts, as well as community events.

Friday, December 11, 7:00 p.m.
CALS Ron Robinson Theater
100 River Market Avenue
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC