Help the ASO with an acoustic test at Robinson Center

The ASO in rehearsal at Robinson Center

School’s back.

It is test time!

Tonight you can take a test that has no wrong answer. It requires no studying.

ASO is conducting an amplified acoustic test and tuning of the Robinson Center on Tuesday, August 27, with a goal of optimizing the concert and listening experience for our Pops Live! series and other concerts with amplified instruments or voice.

The orchestra will be on stage and the ASO needs you to be in the house to get a realistic sonic environment, and to provide feedback on your listening experience. You will have a rare chance to peek behind the curtain at a working rehearsal, where you will hear ASO work on selections chosen to test the venue for an optimized orchestra experience, including two vocalists, a sneak peek at an upcoming Pops Live! Concert, and maybe even a Holiday selection!

This free, general admission event is limited to ASO season ticket holders, Concert Members, SHARP members, donors, members of the ASO’s youth and education programs, and their invited guests. If you have friends you would like to introduce to the orchestra, please invite them! We will ask all attendees to complete a very short survey about your listening experience. We want people to spread throughout the hall so we have listeners in every section, so we can best serve our entire audience. Please RSVP for you and your guests at

The orchestra will work in an empty hall from 7 p.m., the audience will be allowed in to take their seats at 7:45 p.m., and the open rehearsal/test will begin at 8 p.m. and will last about an hour.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates a decade of fiscal responsibility and artistic growth

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra announced its 10th break-even fiscal year in a row at the end of June. The 54-year-old Little Rock nonprofit has broken even or finished with a small surplus each year since the 2009-2010 season while growing from a $2.8 million annual operating budget to a $3.5 million budget.

The orchestra achieved this monumental task through the support of the community, a hard-working and engaged Board of Directors, professional musicians and a culture of partnership with all musicians, leadership, volunteers and administrators.

The orchestra’s Chief Executive Officer, Christina Littlejohn, expressed gratitude to the community. “On behalf of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, ‘thank you’ to the more than 3,500 individuals who have given to sustain live music, music education and Arkansas’s quality of life. Your generosity shows how valued ASO is by the Little Rock and statewide community, and we are grateful and invigorated by your support.” Littlejohn also said the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will continue to be a disciplined, creative and innovative community partner in Little Rock and Arkansas for decades to come.

In addition to financial health, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s past 10 years have been marked by many achievements:

  • Opened the Robinson Center with a free concert to say thank you to the community for the new concert hall. More than 2,000 tickets were distributed in 39 minutes.
  • Formed a financial recovery task force in 2010 which set standards and practices which enabled the paying off of $700,000 in accumulated deficit, the restoration of full-time and part-time musician pay, and issued cost of living increases.
  • Created the Sturgis Music Academy, providing string education to more than 250 students each week
  • Made Sunday concerts free for 16,000 children with the Entergy Kids Ticket.
  • Provided violin instruction to Bale Elementary School, Forest Park Elementary School, and Fulbright Elementary School with the Violin in Your School program
  • Added a new neighborhood concert series and special performances, increasing the number of musician services
  • Supported annual residencies of guest artists for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles program starting with a residency of violinist Midori
  • Performed in temporary venues for two-and-a-half years during the Robinson Center renovation, and used the opportunity to reach and entertain new, diverse audiences
  • Nearly doubled the endowment ($4 million in June 2010 to $7.6 million as of May 2019)
  • Set a new record for the largest Annual Fund ever raised by the orchestra, over $1 million given for its annual fund in 2019
  • Received national and local coverage of orchestra programs
  • Commissioned and premiered six new works for orchestra including a commission of Christopher Theofanidis by orchestra musicians in honor of the Board of Directors
  • Board of Directors recognized as “Best Non-Profit Board of Directors” by Arkansas Business
  • Introduced SHARP, ASO’s young professionals group and growing attendance from 30 in its first year to over 200 in four years

Chris White, Market President of Simmons Bank Central Arkansas, and a member of the Board of Directors, said the orchestra’s education and community service programs, which serve more than 26,000 children each year, are the key to its future success. “Simmons Bank regards social and civic responsibility as an inherent part of everything we do. There’s real value for Little Rock and Arkansas by supporting the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and specifically its youth programs that foster disciplined, hardworking and team-oriented people.”

The 2019-2020 ASO season is focused on the Arkansas and Little Rock community, presenting programs in partnership with other community institutions, highlighting the compositions of local composers, and maintaining a commitment to accessibility, service, artistic excellence, and fiscal discipline. Subscriptions are on-sale now and offer discounts from single ticket prices as well as benefits exclusive to subscribers, such as guaranteed priority seating and free and flexible ticket exchange.

36th Pops on the River, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Pops on the River, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will take place Thursday., July 4, in downtown Little Rock.

In its 36th year, this free community event is the largest Fourth of July event in the state as more than 30,000 are drawn downtown to the events surrounding Pops on the River.

Pops has continued to grow these last three decades in no small part because it has held true to its roots and continues to focus on a family-friendly environment complete with fantastic food, fireworks, and music by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. It is a heralded community event that many remember for years to come.

Pops on the River will begin at 3pm in the River Market area of downtown Little Rock with free activities for kids in the Kid’s Pavilion, a marketplace for shopping, food trucks and entertainment for all ages.

Entertainment inside the First Security Amphitheater will include live music by Nicky Parrish, Rodney Block and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. and are shot off the Main Street Bridge.

The event is free to the public and a portion of proceeds benefit a local charity. This year’s benefiting charity is Rock City Rescue. Pops on the River is also sponsored in part by the Orion Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 106.7 The Ride and Waste Management.