Organist Henry Webb highlights 16th Robert Young Ellis Concert

The Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists presents The Sixteenth Annual Concert Celebrating the Life of Robert Young Ellis. Featuring Henry Webb, organist, it will take place tonight (April 5) at Christ Episcopal Church.  There is no admission cost.

Henry Webb is a Sophomore at the Eastman School of Music, studying Organ Performance with Nathan Laube. For the year following his high school graduation, Henry served as Organ Scholar at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas under the guidance of Graham Schultz and Scott Dettra. Henry began his music studies in late 2010 and his teachers have included Christina Harmon and Scott Dettra.

In 2012, Henry received first prize in the Oklahoma City University High School Organ Competition. He has been featured as a recitalist in Texas and beyond, notably as part of the dedicatory series at the parish of Christ the King, Dallas, the Baylor University’s Pipedreams Live, and the 2016, 2017, and 2018 East Texas Pipe Organ Festival.

Henry has participated in numerous organ academies including the Oberlin Organ European Winter Term and Summer Academy, the Leipzig Europäische Orgelakademie, French and Spanish Organ Music Seminars, various Pipe Organ Encounters, and Curtis Institute Organ Camps. Henry also enjoys Astronomy, hiking, photography, and playing tennis.

Robert Young Ellis was Professor of Organ at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia for 35 years from 1952 to 1987. It is hoped that this series will inspire musicians young and old, as Ellis, through his teaching and playing, influenced innumerable students and colleagues who remember him as a musician of genius and as one who brought both wit and sophistication to the lesson and to the classroom.

Little Rock Look Back: MacArthur Returns

MacArthur and Mayor Remmel

General MacArthur and Mayor Remmel

On Sunday, March 23, 1952, General Douglas MacArthur made his only post-infancy visit to Little Rock. He had previously been scheduled to visit Mississippi, and Little Rock Mayor Pratt Remmel had persuaded him to add a visit to Little Rock to the agenda. The fact that Little Rock now had a Republican mayor had apparently piqued the General’s interest.

General MacArthur, accompanied by his wife and son as well as several journalists and members of his military retinue, arrived at Little Rock Airport at 10:40 am. He was met by a delegation of civic leaders including Mayor Remmel. Alderman James Griffey made welcoming remarks on behalf of the city. Then the General and Mayor boarded an open car and led a motorcade from the airport to downtown.

The motorcade’s destination was Christ Episcopal Church at Capitol and Scott streets. It was at this church that MacArthur had been baptized as an infant. The delegation was greeted by the Episcopal Bishop R. Bland Mitchell, Rector J. Hodge Alves, and Rector Emeritus W. P. Witsell. (While he had been Rector, Dr. Witsell had garnered national attention by issuing an Easter blessing to Gen. MacArthur as he had been evacuating the Philippines at the height of World War II.) In order to gain admittance to the church that morning, church members and guests had to have tickets.

Following the worship service, the General and his party went to three events in the park named in his honor. The first was a tour of the Museum of Natural History (now the Museum of Discovery and located in the River Market; the current tenant of the building is the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History), which was located in the building in which the General had been born. After the tour, he spoke at a dedication of a small rose garden adjacent to the museum. It was sponsored by the Little Rock City Beautiful Commission and the Garden Clubs of Greater Little Rock.

Though every stop of the General’s visit had featured crowds, the largest was at the third location in MacArthur Park. A crowd of several thousand greeted the General as he spoke from the Foster Bandshell in the park’s southwest corner. Chamber of Commerce president Richard C. Butler (brother-in-law of Mayor Remmel) was the master of ceremonies. Following an invocation by Methodist Bishop Paul Martin, the only other speaker was the General. In his remarks he spoke of his Southern heritage and of his appreciation for the support of the citizens of Little Rock over the years.

Several gifts were bestowed upon the MacArthurs at the ceremony. The City of Little Rock presented Mrs. MacArthur with an engraved silver serving tray.

Following the events in MacArthur Park, the family retired for a brief respite to the Hotel Marion. They then attended a luncheon buffet in their honor at the home of Howard and Elsie Stebbins on Edgehill Road. The General and Mrs. MacArthur circulated through the house greeting guests and then eschewed a special table in favor of balancing their plates on their laps and sitting in wingback chairs. Meanwhile Arthur MacArthur stayed upstairs and discussed stamp collecting and other hobbies with the Stebbins’ two teenage sons.

Following the luncheon, the MacArthur party went back to the airport and by 4:00pm, the plane was in the air.

Though this visit was coming at the end of a whirlwind of activities, by all accounts, the General and Mrs. MacArthur were very gracious and accommodating. The General was being mentioned as a potential GOP candidate for President, but purposefully steered clear of any political comments in his remarks. He and Mrs. MacArthur dutifully posed for photos not only for the media but also for amateur photographers. At lunch, the General even asked a Gazette photographer to take a photo of him with his Little Rock Police motorcycle escorts so that they could have a souvenir of the visit.

Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys in concert tonight at Christ Church

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Considered by many to be the leading U.S. ensemble in the Anglican choral tradition, the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys provides music for five choral services each week at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, NY, and for the past three decades has also toured throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Tonight (March 21) they will be in concert at Christ Church in downtown Little Rock at 7pm.

Director of Music, Daniel Hyde, will make his final tour with the choir in March, of which their concert at Christ Church will be a part. Admission is $25, $10 for students. Ticket are on sale  at the door the night of the performance.

Festival of Hymns tonight at Christ Church

Image may contain: 1 personRichard Webster is a leading American composer of church music, especially of brass arrangements for congregational hymns.

Webster will lead the Christ Church Choir and the congregation in “Blow Ye the Trumpet in Zion: A Festival of Hymns for the Church Year,” singing your favorite hymns set to dazzling arrangements for brass. The hymn festival is free and open to the public (so bring a friend!), and a festive reception will follow.

The program starts at 7pm at Christ Church, located at the corner of Scott and Capitol Streets.

Mulehead tonight at the Undercroft

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and textTonight at 8pm, Mulehead performs in The Undercroft.

Band mates Kevin Kerby, Geoff Curran, David Raymond, and Brent LaBeau are promising a “chill set” for their next concert underneath the church. Are they telling the truth? Come see—and enjoy a “Capitol” night with homemade Undercroft Brew and soda for a donation.

$10 at the door.

The Undercroft is located at 509 Scott Street.

Michael Kleinschmidt returns for organ recital tonight

The Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists again hosts world-renowned organist Michael Kleinschmidt in a concert tonight.

It will start at 8pm at Christ Episcopal Church.

Michael Kleinschmidt is Canon Musician of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle. He previously served as Canon for Cathedral Music at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. He holds degrees from Eastman School of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.

Michael is an accomplished organist, having played in recital across the world, including an All-Bach concert on the Flentrop Organ at St. Mark’s in 2012. He also has a keen appreciation for the ministry of music in children, and serves on the faculty of the Royal School of Church Music summer courses.

Little Rock Look Back: Gordon Neill Peay

Mayor PeayOn December 12, 1819, future Little Rock Mayor Gordon Neill Peay was born.  The Peay family arrived in Arkansas from Kentucky in 1825.  They quickly became one of Little Rock’s leading families.

Mayor Peay’s father, Nicholas Peay served on the Little Rock Board of Trustees (which existed before the town was incorporated) and later served on the City Council and was acting mayor. It is Nicholas Peay’s Egg Nog recipe which inspired the Historic Arkansas Museum Nog Off!

Godon N. Peay served as mayor of Little Rock from 1859 to 1861.  During the Civil War, Peay served as Captain and later Colonel of the Capital Guard.  He later received a pardon from the federal government.  In the days leading up to the Civil War and during it, Mayor Peay was one of a select group of civic leaders who corresponded with President Lincoln and other Union leaders. It has been said that this conciliatory tone is a reason that Little Rock fared better during Federal occupation and Reconstruction than did many other Confederate cities.

The Peay family owned the Peay Hotel, Little Rock’s first hotel, and were also co-founders of what became Worthen Bank.  They were also a founding family of Christ Episcopal Church. Mayor Peay later served as Pulaski County Chancery Clerk.

He died on December 14, 1876, and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery along with many members of his family.  A nephew of his, Ashley Peay, served on the City Council in the 1920s.  Mayor Peay’s great-grandson Joseph Barber Hurst, Sr. served on the Little Rock City Board of Directors from 1967-1971. One of Mr. Hurst’s sons, Howard, was born on Mayor Peay’s birthday.