2019-2020 Little Rock Winds season starts tonight

Image result for little rock windsThe Little Rock Winds and conductor Israel Getzov open their 2019-20 Season on Thursday, October 10th at 7:30 p.m. with “Melody and Passion”, a program of gorgeous melodies that exude passion and fire!

And, for the first time, the LR Winds’ will feature a string player as the guest soloist.  Stephen Feldman, cello, will perform Tramonto: Romanza for Cello and Winds, a reflective piece by Luis Serrano Alarcón that artfully employs full wind symphony accompaniment to the romantic cello solo.  Other lush melodies include songs from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and Whitacre’s Seal Lullaby.  Chance’s Incantation and Dance and the finale from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 present passion and fire so hot, the band may need fire-proof tuxes.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 10, 2019
Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock.

Tickets are available online at lrwinds.org and are $15 for adults, $12 for adults 65 and over, and free for students.

Program

Davide Delle Cese         L’Inglesina
John Barnes Chance    Incantation and Dance
Eric Whitacre                 The Seal Lullaby
George Gershwin         Porgy & Bess
Luis Serrano Alarcón   Tramonto: Romanza for Cello and Winds
                                           Stephen Feldman, cello
Dimitri Shostakovich    Symphony #5: Finale
Leonard Bernstein        Slava!

A gifted and enthusiastic communicator in recitals, chamber music, and solo performances, Stephen Feldman’s cello playing has taken him from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Sacramento, California.  Formerly a member of the Fetter and Rivanna String Quartets, he also performed in the Quapaw and Sturgis String Quartets during his six years with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, the Eastman School of Music, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Feldman’s mentors include cellists Steven Doane and Timothy Eddy.  He considers chamber music coach Julius Levine and Baroque specialists Arthur Haas and Paul O’dette also to be significant musical influences.

Israel Getzov has been the Music Director and Conductor of the Little Rock Wind Symphony since 2015.  He also serves as Music Director of the Conway Symphony Orchestra, and previously held the position of Associate Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony and Principal Conductor of the Tianjin Philharmonic, the resident orchestra of the Tianjin Grand Theater.  Mr. Getzov has conducted orchestras throughout the United States and abroad including Abilene Philharmonic, Asheville, Symphony, Cleveland Pops, Monroe Symphony, Skokie Valley Symphony, Shanghai Philharmonic, Symphony of the Mountains, Tianjin Symphony, Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra, Bolivia Classica, University of Taipei Symphony, and the Encuentro Jovenes Musicos Festival in La Paz, Bolivia.

Mr. Getzov started the violin at age 3, and later studied viola, piano and percussion.  An in-demand educator of ensemble techniques, Mr. Getzov holds a tenured professorship at the University of Central Arkansas and has given clinics at many schools in the U.S. and internationally.  A

Little Rock Winds was founded in 1993 to recognize the diverse heritage of the wind band tradition in Arkansas. It is dedicated to providing Arkansas communities live wind band music, including a variety of compositions and transcriptions that inspire audiences, challenge the players, and preserve the wind band tradition. LR Winds is an important outlet for the wind and percussion musicians in the central Arkansas area. The approximately 48 professional and semi-professional musicians are selected by audition and participate for personal development and enjoyment and as a service to the community. Six concerts are performed annually in Little Rock, and the band has performed statewide, from Texarkana to Cherokee Village, Harrison to McGehee.

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“An American In….” is theme of LR Winds Concert tonight

Izzy in ParisFor this late winter concert, Little Rock Winds presents “An American In …”, a program that paints musical visits to fun places. The concert begins at 7:30 pm at Second Presbyterian Church.

The LR Winds are under the direction of Israel Getzov, Music Director.

PROGRAM

•  David Maslanka:  On This Bright Morning
•  Ralph Ford:  Go West!
•  Michael Daugherty:  Brooklyn Bridge Clarinet Concerto, mvt. 3 & 4
•  Alfred Reed:  Alleluia! Laudamus Te   (In memory of Elizabeth Plowman)
•  Chris Sharp: An American Spectacular 
•  George Gershwin: An American in Paris
•  Henry Fillmore: Americans We

LETTER SWEATER NIGHT!
Hunt down your high school band letter sweater or jacket and wear (or bring) to the concert for a fun photo op and story session!

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Rocking the Tonys: Baryshnikov at Robinson (part 2)

One of the presenters at Sunday’s 72nd Tony Awards is Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Twenty-nine years ago, he himself was a 1989 Tony nominee for Actor in a Play (for playing a man-turned-cockroach in an adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

In 1985, Baryshnikov returned to Little Rock to perform again at Robinson Center under the auspices of Ballet Arkansas.   He had performed here two years earlier, as well.

Among the dancers who joined him in the program was future Tony nominee Robert LaFosse.  He would be nominated for a 1989 Tony as well. But he was up for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.  Other dancers in the company were Cynthia Harvey, Susan Jaffe, Leslie Browne, Elaine Kudo, Cheryl Yeager, Amanda McKerrow, Deirdre Carberry, Bonnie Moore, Valerie Madonia, Ross Stretton, Peter Fonseca, Gil Boggs, John Gardner, and John Turjoman.

The company danced to pieces choreographed by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Marius Petipa, future Tony Award winner Twyla Tharp, Lisa de Ribere, and La Fosse.  The music composers included George Gershwin, Jacques Offenbach, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Hector Berlioz, as well as composers who wrote songs for Frank Sinatra.

While Ballet Arkansas did not have any dancers perform during the evening, the organization presented it and was able to receive the proceeds which exceeded the expenses.  For several years in the 1980s, the Ballet would either commence or conclude their season with such an performance. In fact, the 1985 Baryshnikov program contained a promotion of a 1986 visit by Alvin Ailey’s dance company.

Whereas the 1983 Baryshnikov appearance had been sponsored by the Arkansas Democrat, this time, the rival Arkansas Gazette was the sponsor.

 

Pulitzers play Little Rock – OF THEE I SING

OfTheeISingBefore Robinson Auditorium opened, the stage of Little Rock High School (now Central High) was the prime performance location in Little Rock.  In 1933, it welcomed the national tour of the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Of Thee I Sing.

This was the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  In fact, because no musical had won the award before, the jury appeared to not know how to handle a composer in a writing category.  Librettists Morris Ryskind and George S. Kaufman and lyricist Ira Gershwin were named as recipients. But composer George Gershwin did not receive the Pulitzer.  (In 1998, he received a posthumous Special Pulitzer.)

The musical, a satire of politics and popular culture, was directed by Mr. Kaufman.  The tour came to Little Rock for one performance on February 9, 1933. The Broadway production had closed less than a month earlier after 441 performances (a very long run at the time).

The tour starred Oscar Shaw (who had played the male lead in the original production of the Gershwins’ Oh Kay!) and Harriette Lake.  She would later change her name to Ann Sothern.  Other main roles were played by Donald Meek and Cecil Lean.   A few months after Little Rock, the tour played a month on Broadway.  Miss Lake continued in her role, but the men were replaced by their original Broadway counterparts.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama being given. To pay tribute to 100 years of the Pulitzer for Drama, each day this month a different Little Rock production of a Pulitzer Prize winning play will be highlighted.  Many of these titles have been produced numerous times.  This look will veer from high school to national tours in an attempt to give a glimpse into Little Rock’s breadth and depth of theatrical history.

Little Rock Look Back: President Clinton performs with Arkansas Symphony

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton addresses the audience after reciting Martin Luther King’s famous speech, ‘I Have A Dream’, to the music of Alexander L. Miller at Robinson Auditorium March 25, 2003 in Little Rock. (Photo by Karen E. Segrave/Getty Images)

On March 25, 2003, former President Bill Clinton took the stage of Robinson Center Music Hall to perform with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Entitled “Let Freedom Ring – A Patriotic Celebration,” the evening was a joint fundraiser for the Symphony and the Clinton Foundation.

Before a packed house, Clinton narrated Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait which weaves excerpts from Lincoln speeches with Copland’s own unique classical take on American heartland music.  Clinton also narrated Let Freedom Ring, a symphonic setting by Alexander Miller of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

The evening also consisted of Broadway veteran and Little Rock favorite Lawrence Hamilton singing “Wheels of a Dream” from the musical Ragtime.  On Broadway and on national tour, Hamilton had previously sung the song.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra also performed An American in Paris by George Gershwin and “Jupiter” from The Planets by Gustav Holst.  This final selection was a tribute to the seven astronauts who had died in the crash of the space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003.

David Itkin, who was then the musical director of the ASO, conducted the concert.

Black History Month – Ella Fitzgerald and Robinson Auditorium

ellaElla Fitzgerald appeared at Robinson Auditorium in the 1940s.  She made the stops as she crisscrossed the US performing her hit songs.

Born in Virginia in 1917, she was raised in Yonkers. At 17 she won a contest at the Apollo Theatre which launched her career.  Saxophonist Benny Carter and bandleader Chick Webb were both instrumental in helping her establish her career.  She would tour with Webb until his death, and then took over as bandleader.

In 1938, at the age of 21, Ella recorded a playful version of the nursery rhyme, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” The album sold 1 million copies, hit number one, and stayed on the pop charts for 17 weeks.

She later toured with Dizzy Gillespie’s band and there met Ray Brown. The two would marry and adopt a son, Ray Jr.  Though they divorced in 1952, they remained friends.

In the late 1940s through the 1960s, Ella joined the Philharmonic tour, worked with Louis Armstrong on several albums and began producing her songbook series. From 1956-1964, she recorded covers of other musicians’ albums, including those by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and Rodgers and Hart.

As she moved into the 1970s, Ella kept performing. She also started receiving honors and honorary degrees.  She was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1979.  In 1987, President Reagan bestowed upon her the National Medal of the Arts.  Her final concert was in 1991 at Carnegie Hall.  She died in June 1996 in California.