Ravel and Villa-Lobos are on the program for tonight’s Arkansas Symphony River Rhapsodies

Ravel & Villa-LobosThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra continues the 2019-2020 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music season with Ravel and Villa-Lobos, Tuesday, November 12th at 7:00 p.m. at the Clinton Presidential Center.

ASO’s Rockefeller String Quartet, along with other musicians are performing Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, Ives’ Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano, Missy Mazzoli’s Death Valley Junction, and Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5.

River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Concerts are held in the intimate setting of the Clinton Presidential Center’s Great Hall. A cash bar is open before the concert and at intermission, and patrons are invited to carry drinks into the concert. The Media Sponsor for the River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series is UA Little Rock Public Radio.

General Admission tickets are $26; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSympohny.org; at the Clinton Center beginning 60 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 1.

Artists
Rockefeller String Quartet
-Trisha McGovern Freeney, violin
-Linnaea Brophy, violin
-Katherine Reynolds, viola
-Jacob Wunsch, cello

David Gerstein, cello
Katherine Williamson, violin
Geoffrey Robson, violin
John Krebs, piano
Casey Buck, cello
Rafael Leon, cello
Daniel Cline, cello
Stephen Feldman, cello
Kristin Smith, cello
Hannah Yeo, cello
Maria Fasciano, soprano

Beethoven, Blue Jeans, and a Brace of Arkansas Composers on tap for ASO Weekend Concerts

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents the second concert of the 2019-2020 Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks season: Beethoven and Blue Jeans, Saturday, November 9th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 10th at 3:00 p.m. in the Robinson Center.

The ASO is proud to present Beethoven and Blue Jeans, featuring the works of two Arkansan composers, Florence Price and William Grant Still, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica.”  Beethoven and Blue Jeans is sponsored by The DoubleTree Hotel. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.  The concerts will be under the baton of guest conductor Andrew Grams.

Interim Artistic Director, Geoffrey Robson, gives these notes: “Beethoven and Blue Jeans will feature your Arkansas Symphony performing two works by 20th century African-American composers with deep Little Rock roots. William Grant Still’s Festive Overture is a lively march that passes the virtuosic torch around to all sections of the orchestra. Florence Price is rapidly gaining long overdue notice for the powerful late-romantic style and unique harmonic idiom of her compositions; her music will be interpreted by guest artist pianist and scholar Karen Walwyn. The second half of the program is filled by Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony, a beloved work representing the dividing line between the Classical and Romantic eras.”

All people with a ticket to Beethoven and Blue Jeans are invited to the annual pre-concert street party: Symphony Local. The party is on W Markham St in front of the Robinson Center starting at 5:30 on Saturday and 1:00 on Sunday. ASO will serve free brats, Stone’s Throw Brewery will sell beer, and music will be provided by the Episcopal Collegiate Steel Drum Band, under the direction of ASO percussionist Erick Saoud. The Arkansas Food bank collect non-perishable food donations, and will provide any patrons who bring 10 items or more will receive a voucher good for two best available tickets to a future Masterworks or Pops Live! concert. To learn more visit http://www.ArkansasSymphony.org/party

Tickets are $16, $36, $57, and $70; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Robinson Center street-level box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 1. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at https://www.arkansassymphony.org/freekids.

Artober – Behind the Scenes. An Arkansas Symphony Orchestra rehearsal in 2017

Image may contain: 2 people, people sittingOctober 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.

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Artober – Music. The sounds of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

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Little Rock has a thriving music scene from jazz to blues to r&b to rock to soul to gospel to, well, you name it.

For over 50 years, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has been playing a pivotal role in that scene.  While they play programs that are largely classical music, they also incorporate many different styles of music into their offerings.  Last night, they played a concert with Tony and Grammy winner Heather Headley which spanned numerous musical genres.  The ASO is led by Interim Music Director Geoffrey Robson and Executive Director Christina Littlejohn.

Incorporated in 1966, the ASO now performs more than 60 concerts per season, which includes the Masterworks and Pops Concerts. In addition, the orchestra has a Chamber Series, River Rhapsodies, at the Clinton Presidential Center, ASO, I.N.C.: Intimate Neighborhood Concerts, and a busy schedule of statewide touring and educational performances in numerous venues, along with collaborations with Ballet Arkansas and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Integral to the ASO’s activities are its resident string quartets, the Rockefeller and Quapaw Quartet; The ASO Brass Quintet, ASO Big Band, and the Arkansas Symphony Youth Ensembles, which comprises two string-only ensembles and two full orchestras. Through ASO education programs over 40,000 children each year experience the magic of music.

Distinguished guest artists including Bill Clinton, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horn, Andre Watts, Maureen McGovern, Bernadette Peters, Maya Angelou, and Doc Severinsen, among others, have appeared in concert with the orchestra in Arkansas.

Comprised of the state’s most sought after professional musicians, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is heard by more than 165,000 Arkansans each year, and consistently plays to high critical praise.

2019-2020 ASO season kicks off this weekend

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The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents the first concert of the 2019-2020 Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks season: Scheherazade, Saturday, September 28th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 29th at 3:00 p.m. at the Robinson Center.

The ASO collaborates with ACANSA Arts Festival of the South to present American trio, Time for Three, an ensemble that “defies any traditional genre classification,” and prestigious conductor, JoAnn Falletta. The concert will also feature Ravel’s La Valse, Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 and will conclude with Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful musical telling of the Arabian Nights legends, Scheherazade. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

Interim Artistic Director, Geoffrey Robson gives these notes: “This program, led by distinguished conductor Joann Falletta, is vivid, lively, and bursting with character. Ravel’s La Valse was conceived as a ballet and a tribute to the Viennese waltz. Its relentless, adrenaline-soaked rhythmic drive pushes the orchestra to its limits and by design almost breaks apart at the finish. American composing phenom Jennifer Higdon wrote her Concerto 4-3 for the group performing it, Time for Three. The music is steeped in bluegrass, reflecting the eclectic tastes of the performers, who perform with an edgy and multicultural style. Last on the program is the great symphonic favorite Scheherazade, based on the Arabian Nights folk tales. Four movements of colorful music tell four stories, connected by themes for the dangerous king and the brilliant storyteller Scheherazade herself.”

Tickets are $16, $36, $57, and $70; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Robinson Center street-level box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 1. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at https://www.arkansassymphony.org/freekids.

MADAMA BUTTERFLY this weekend presented by Opera in the Rock

Opera in the Rock at The Rep | Pucccini | Madama Butterfly | May 17, 2019, 7:30 PM | May 19, 2019, 2:30 PMOpera in the Rock presents Madama Butterfly this weekend.

1904: Nagasaki. Pinkerton, a U.S. naval officer, rents a house on a hill for himself and his soon-to-be bride, the 15-year-old “Butterfly.” Bound to be a brief marriage of convenience for Pinkerton, love and heartbreak ensue for the young Cio-Cio San.

Starring the world-class soprano Francesca Mondanaro as Butterfly, a singing actress with rave reviews for performances that are “electric” (Opera News) and “entirely riveting” (Washington Post), Opera In The Rock’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, a staple of the operatic repertoire, is not to be missed!

Directed by David Ward and featuring musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Robson, the cast also includes Daniel Foltz-Morrison, Sarah Stankiewicz Dailey and Dallas’ Theodor Carlson, among others, including 15-year-old Tania Kelley making her operatic debut.

Performances are Friday, May 17, 2019 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 2:30 PM.  The Opera in the Rock performances will be at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.