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.


Mendelssohn String Symphony No. 10 tonight at Arkansas Symphony River Rhapsodies Series at Clinton Presidential Center

ASO NewThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth concert of the 2015-2016 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series: Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 10, at 7 PM Tuesday March 1, 2016 at the Clinton Presidential Center’s Great Hall.

ASO musicians present a chamber music showcase in the beautiful Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, featuring works from Prokofiev, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Bach in various ensembles.

A cash bar is open at 6 PM and at intermission, and patrons are invited to carry drinks into the hall. Media sponsor for the River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series is KUAR/KLRE.

Tickets are $23; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at; at the Clinton Presidential Center beginning 60 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100.


Geoffrey Robson, violin/conductor
Rockefeller Quartet:

  • Trisha McGovern Freeney, violin
  • Katherine Williamson, violin
  • Katherine Reynolds, viola
  • Aaron Ludwig, cello

Vernon Di Carlo, tenor
Tatiana Roitman, piano
Andrew Irvin, Kiril Laskarov, Eric Hayward, Meredith Maddox Hicks, Leanne Day-Simpson, Sandra McDonald, Yennifer Correia, violins
Ryan Mooney, Katrina Weeks, violas
David Gerstein, Ethan Young, cellos
Barron Weir, bass
Carl Anthony, harpsichord



PROKOFIEV – Sonata for Two Violins in C Major, Op. 56

BEETHOVEN  – String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18 No. 4

MENDELSSOHN – Selection of Songs for Voice and Piano

BACH – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BW 1048

MENDELSSOHN – String Symphony No. 10 in B minor

Broadway Rocks the Arkansas Symphony this weekend

ASO NewThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra welcomes Christiane Noll, Capathia Jenkins and Rob Evan for a weekend of Broadway music backed by the ASO.

Under the direction of Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson, this high energy show brings together exciting vocalists from the Broadway stage performing selections from rock and contemporary Broadway hits. Wicked, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Rent, The Wiz, The Phantom of the Opera – and many more of your favorites from the stage are featured on this exciting show for all ages!

Act I

  • Rocks Overture (arr. Fleischer)
  • Everybody Rejoice (The Wiz/Smalls)
  • This Is The Moment (Jekyll and Hyde/Wildhorn)
  • Good Morning Baltimore (Hairspray/Shaiman)
  • Jersey Boys Medley
  • Total Eclipse Circle of Life (Lion King/John)
  • Proud Mary (Fogerty)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar Overture (Lloyd Webber)
  • Seasons of Love (Rent/Larsen)
  • You Can’t Stop the Beat (Hairspray/Shaiman)


Act II

  • Come Sail Away
  • For Good (Wicked/Schwartz)
  • Anthem (Chess/Andersson/Ulvaeus)
  • I Will Survive
  • Defying Gravity (Wicked/Schwartz)
  • Mamma Mia Medley (Andersson/Ulvaeus)
  • And I Am Tellin’ You (Dreamgirls/Krieger)            
  • Phantom of the Opera (Phantom/Lloyd Webber)
  • Music of the Night (Phantom/Lloyd Webber)

All programs, dates and guest artists subject to change.

Capathia Jenkins, created the role of ‘Medda’ in the hit Disney production of Newsies on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in The Civil War. She then starred in the Off-Broadway 2000 revival of Godspell. She returned to Broadway in The Look of Love and was critically acclaimed for her performances of the Bacharach/David hits. Ms. Jenkins then created the roles of ‘The Washing Machine’ in Caroline, Or Change and ‘Frieda May’ in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, where she sang ‘Stop the Show’ and brought the house down every night.

Christiane Noll was nominated for both the 2010 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award and won a Helen Hayes Award for her portrayal of Mother on Broadway in the Kennedy Center Revival of Ragtime. She made her Broadway debut starring in Jekyll & Hyde, creating the role of Emma. Ms. Noll received an Ovation Award for her comedic turn as Hope Cladwell in the National Tour of Urinetown, wowed audiences again as Vanna Vane in the new musical The Mambo Kings, soared as Jane Smart in the American premiere of The Witches of Eastwick, and most recently received another Drama Desk nomination for her work in Chaplin.

Rob Evan has performed in seven leading roles on the New York Stage including the original Broadway cast of Jekyll & Hyde, playing the title roles for three years and over 1,000 performances worldwide. He also appeared on Broadway as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Kerchak in Disney’s Tarzan, “The Dentist” in Little Shop of Horrors, and Count von Krolock in Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires. Off-Broadway, Rob created the roles of The Dancin’ Kid in Johnny Guitar and the hero Miles Hendon in Neil Berg’s m.

Holiday Music with ASO this weekend!

dec 18 20The ASO’s most popular and longest running tradition brings holiday cheer to music lovers of all ages. Featuring holiday music you know and the best artists from around the state – and beyond! – this concert is an ASO favorite and the best way to settle in to the most wonderful time of the year with the whole family!
The ASO, under the direction of Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson, will showcase holiday favorites like Joy to the World, Silver Bells, and Silent Night, seasonal orchestral classics from Bach and Gabrieli, children’s choir, the gospel vocals of Vickie Woodard, and special guest Bonnie Montgomery on vocals and guitar.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
BACH, J.S. Zion Hört die Wachter Singen from BWV 140 (Children’s Choir)
GABRIELI Canzon Noni Toni (Antiphonal brass)
von HERBECK Pueri Concinite (Children’s Choir + Christine Westhoff)
Silver Bells arr. Holcombe (Christine Westhoff)
O Holy Night (Christine Westhoff)
Silent Night (Children’s Choir)


Carol of the Bells
Pretty Paper (Bonnie Montgomery)
Little Drummer Boy (Bonnie Montgomery)
Deck the Halls Arr. Davis
Go Tell It on the Mountain Arr. (Vickie Woodard)
Joy To The World Arr. Schnurr (Vickie Woodard)
Christmas Singalong Arr. Finnegan (Bonnie Montgomery and others)

The concerts are at the Connor Performing Arts Center on the campus of Pulaski Academy.  They start at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday and 3pm on Sunday.

Music inspired by Shakespeare focus of program with youth divisions of ASO and Ballet Arkansas

ballet_and_ASOYEThe future of the arts is on display tonight in downtown Little Rock at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple at 7:30pm

The Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra and Ballet Arkansas Preparatory Program present their annual partnership and a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  The music comes from musical works adapted from Shakespeare’s plays.

The program includes music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2, Bernstein’s West Side Story and Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” ASYO is the premier ensemble of the Arkansas Symphony Youth Ensembles Program.


For the 3rd consecutive year, the dancers from Ballet Arkansas’ Preparatory Program under the direction of Kim Nygren Cox join the members of the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra under the direction of Geoffrey Robson for a joint performance.

Don’t miss this delighful collaboration! $20 General Admission, $10 for Students


Creative Class of 2015: Geoffrey Robson

geoffreyrobsonGeoffrey Robson has been the Associate Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, and the Music Director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles since 2012.  In the latter capacity, he has collaborated with the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre and Ballet Arkansas’ Preparatory Program.

He also performs as a violinist, frequently appearing in the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s popular River Rhapsodies chamber series, performing with principal members of the ASO. He has also performed with The Wildflowers and other music acts in Central Arkansas.  As a conductor, works with guest artists such as Midori, the Beach Boys, Vadym Kholodenko, Rachel Barton Pine, Lawrence Hamilton, Timothy Jones, Henrietta Davis, Christiane Noll, and Calvin Lee. In addition, Robson writes and produces “At the Symphony, a concert preview radio series on KLRE Classical 90.5.

He completed his M.M. at Yale University in 2004, studying violin performance with Erick Friedman. In Connecticut, he served as co-concertmaster of the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, and assistant concertmaster of the Waterbury Symphony. Robson also worked as a public schoolteacher in New Haven, CT, and has taught violin, piano, viola, and music theory extensively as a private instructor.

Robson studied orchestral conducting at the Mannes College of Music in New York City under the tutelage of David Hayes. He has twice attended the London Conducting Workshop, an annual course at the Royal College of Music in London, and the International Conducting Festival and Workshop in Zlin, Czech Republic. Robson graduated from the honors college at Michigan State University in 2002, where he studied violin performance with Dmitri Berlinsky and I-fu Wang, and conducting with Leon Gregorian.

Studio Show series of Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre launches with THE UGLY DUCKLING

aac ct ss UglyDuckling_posterThis year, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre features three Studio Shows in addition to its mainstage shows.  Up first, The Ugly Duckling, Aug. 28-Sept. 6, 2015.

Devised and directed by Katie Campbell, The Ugly Duckling is a reimagining of the classic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. It follows a young girl as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and personal transformation. This shadow play unfolds with three actor-puppeteers, two overhead projectors, nearly 100 paper puppets.

“The striking and graphic simplicity of the paper cutting along with the inherently cinematic quality of overhead projector puppetry lays the aesthetic foundation for the production,” Campbell said. “There is no dialogue as the narrative unfolds entirely in the visual language of puppetry and the emotional topography of music.”

Campbell, a North Carolina native, made her home in Little Rock eight years ago when she became a company member with the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre. The Ugly Duckling stemmed from a thesis project as she pursed an MFA in directing theatre for young audiences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“It happened out of necessity—I needed a story that could be told with very few actors and a minimalist set in order to share a tour van with another student,” Campbell said. “But I believe in the story so much. I love telling stories of personal transformation, so it was a natural fit for me to reimagine Andersen’s classic but to adapt it from my personal life lens.”

After touring in North Carolina, Campbell contacted the AACCT to gauge their interest in her show. “There’s never been a single idea that Brad [Bradley Anderson, AACCT artistic director] has said ‘no’ to,” Campbell said. “He and the Arts Center are just so supportive and encouraging of anyone with artistic ambition.”

Before the show could begin at the AAC Children’s Theatre, Campbell needed to find new music since the University of North Carolina at Greensboro owned the rights to the original scores. Enter the Jim Henson Foundation.

The Ugly Duckling was the recipient of a 2015 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant which celebrates innovation and excellence in puppetry. The grant allowed Campbell to approach Jessica Drake Mosher to compose and arrange new, original music.

The two met through a mutual friend on Facebook, and after only a few months of comparing notes, the ensemble was complete. Mosher’s music will be performed live by a 15-piece ensemble from the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra, directed by Geoffrey Robson.

“I have long been interested in collaborating with the Arkansas Arts Center and this is a wonderful opportunity for a first collaboration,” said Robson, associate conductor for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

“I was even more excited that Katie was commissioning new music to be written for this production,” Robson said. “It is always a thrill to be involved in a world premiere, and to give students the opportunity to work with a living composer. Performing a piece of music for the first time is a unique learning experience, and it is a thrill that all of this is happening as the Arts Center kicks off its Studio Series.”

“This is a true collaboration of arts organizations,” Campbell said. “I just consider myself a caretaker of this project because it would not have been possible without any of them.”

After the 36-minute show, the audience is invited to participate in a hands-on demonstration of the shadow puppetry process.

The Ugly Duckling is presented by The Philip R. Jonsson Foundation and sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation. The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor, Arkansas BlueCross Blue Shield; Fall Season Sponsor, Centennial Bank; Spring Season Sponsors, The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas and Dr. Loren Bartole, ‘Family Foot Care’; Additional Support Provided by The Morris Foundation and Media Sponsor, Little Rock Family Magazine.

Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices: $10 General admission, $8 for Arkansas Arts Center members