Little Rock Winds Chamber Players present SUNDAY SONATA today

Little Rock WindsLittle Rock Winds Chamber Players present Sunday Sonata 3:00 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at Highland Valley United Methodist Church, 15524 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock.

As part of the Diversions chamber concert series, the program features soloists and ensembles of three to nine instruments, including a woodwind trio, a woodwind nonet, a brass quintet, the LR Winds clarinet section.

As the title suggests, the program’s focus is on music written in the sonata form but includes other forms as well, including a couple of popular song transcriptions.  I

Tickets are available at and at the door and are $15 for adults, $12 for adults 65 and over, and free for students.


  • Sonata from the Bankelsangerlieder (brass quintet) – Daniel Speer
  • Sonata for Brass Quintet – Henry Purcell / Evans
  • Fantasie for alto saxophone – Jules Demersseman
  • Petite Symphonie for Nine Winds – Charles Gounod
  • Sonatine for bass trombone – Jacques Castérède
  • Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano  – Francis Poulenc
  • Delta Jukebox (bassoon duet)  – Peter Schickele
  • America from “West Side Story” (clarinet choir) – Leonard Bernstein / Marani
  • The Music of the Night from “The Phantom of the Opera” (clarinet choir) – Andrew Lloyd Webber / Lavender
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz (clarinet choir) – Irving Berlin / Osterling

Home for the Holidays with the ASO and Maestro Philip Mann this weekend

Maestro Philip Mann and the musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra welcome singers Maria Fasciano and Vernon Di Carlo, Arkansas Chamber Singers, and the Episcopal Collegiate School Steel Drum Band to take the Robinson Center Performance Hall stage on December 14-16.

Kids aged one to one hundred will enjoy fun holiday favorites like “Silver Bells,” “O Holy Night,” and “White Christmas,” fun selections from The Nutcracker featuring steel drums, brassy Henry Mancini arrangements and winter-themed orchestral music.

Concerts are tonight at 7:30, Saturday, December 15 at 7:30 and Sunday, December 16 at 3:00.  Because Sunday’s show is nearly sold out, the Entergy Kids’ Ticket program has been extended to tonight’s concert.

ANDERSON – Sleigh Ride
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV – Dance of the Tumblers from The Snow Maiden Suite
LIVINGSTON/EVANS arr. Holcombe – Silver Bells (Vernon Di Carlo, vocal)
ADAMS/Ryden – O Holy Night (Maria Fasciano, vocal)
BERLIN/Moss – White Christmas (Vernon Di Carlo, vocal)
BIZET – IV. Farandole from L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2
TYZIK – Twelve Gifts of Christmas (Maria Fasciano, vocal)


MANCINI/Hayes – Christmas Rhapsody
TCHAIKOVSKY – Selections from The Nutracker (with the Episcopal Collegiate School Steel Drum Band)
RICHMAN – Hanukkah Festival Overture
STYNE/Hayes – The Christmas Waltz (with chorus)
COURTNEY – Festival Gloria (with chorus)
HERMAN/Hayes – We Need a Little Christmas (with chorus)
FINNEGAN – Singalong

Pre-concert happenings in the marble lobby:

  • Friday: Concertmaster Andrew Irvin’s violin caroling ensemble
  • Saturday: Brent Shires (ASO horn) leads his Hornaments ensemble
  • Sunday: Annual Children’s Fair (begins at 2 p.m.)

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.

60th Season of Community Theatre of Little Rock

ctlr1956-2016 – Sixty years. It is hard to believe that Community Theatre of Little Rock has been a Central Arkansas staple, delivering dramas, comedies, romances and musicals.

The season kicks off with Ira Levin’s Tony nominated murder mystery Deathtrap.  It runs September 3rd – 6th and 10th – 13th.

Seemingly comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a “dry” spell which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. A possible break in his fortunes occurs when he receives a script from a student in the seminar he has been conducting at a nearby college—a thriller which Sidney recognizes immediately as a potential Broadway hit. Sidney’s plan, which he devises with his wife’s help, is to offer collaboration to the student, an idea which the younger man quickly accepts.

Next up is the hilarious holiday musical The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical.  The holiday cheer runs November 26th to 29th, December 4th to 6th and 11th to 13.


It’s holiday time down in Armadillo Acres (North Florida’s premier mobile-living community), and everyone’s filled with warmth and beer. But when a freak bout of amnesia strikes the trailer park Scrooge, neighborly love is put to the test. Be on hand as Betty, Lin, and Pickles jingle all the way with some new neighbors in an all-new, all-trailer-park musical! This companion to the original GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is just as much of a cat-fightin’, sun-worshippin’, chair-throwin’ good time-—but with tinsel and Keg Nog.

The first show of 2016 is William Inge’s classic Bus Stop.  This romantic comedy-drama runs February 11th-14th and 18th-21st.

In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, is the passenger with most to worry about. She’s been pursued, made love to and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. As a counterpoint to the main romance, the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-age scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance.

The next show is the warm-hearted, nostalgic comedy On Golden Pond by Ernest L. Thompson.  It plays from April 14th – 17th and 21st to 24th.

This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory—but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Irving Berlin’s sharp-shooting musical Annie Get Your Gun closes out the season in June 2016. Running June 3rd-5th, 10th-12th, and 17th-19th, it shows why “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Annie Oakley is the best shot around, and she manages to support her little brother and sisters by selling the game she hunts. When she’s discovered by Col. Buffalo Bill, he persuades this novel sharpshooter to join his Wild West Show. It only takes one glance for her to fall head over heels for dashing shooting ace Frank Butler, who headlines the show. She soon eclipses Butler as the main attraction which, while good for business, is bad for romance. Butler hightails it off to join a rival show, his bruised male ego leading the way, but is ultimately pitted against Annie in a final shoot-out. The rousing, sure-fire finale hits the mark every time in a testament to the power of female ingenuity.

Performances are at the Studio Theatre at 328 W. 7th Street.  Curtain times are: Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nights, 7:30 pm and Sunday Matinees, 2:00 pm.


12 Days of Christmas Movies: HOLIDAY INN & WHITE CHRISTMAS

Holiday WhiteToday’s Christmas movie(s) are combined because they share a star, a composer and a song.  The latter is often erroneously referred to as a remake of the former.

Irving Berlin’s 1924 black & white Holiday Inn tells the tale of a crooner (Bing Crosby) who retires from show business to start an inn which would only be open on holidays.  Fred Astaire plays his former song and dance partner who has a knack for stealing all of Bing’s girlfriends. The rest of the cast is largely forgettable, indeed most did not have extensive careers before or after this movie.  One exception is the underused Louise Beavers stuck in the role of Crosby’s domestic at the Inn.  She had leading roles in several movies, but due to her race and the time, would still find herself playing maids and cooks with little onscreen time too much of her career.

The real gem here is the score. Though there are some forgettable (“I Can’t Tell a Lie”) and embarrassing (“Abraham”) but this also features “Happy Holidays,” “Be Careful It’s My Heart,” and “Easter Parade” (which Berlin had written for a musical revue in the 1930s).  The knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark breakaway hit was “White Christmas,” which went on to win the Oscar for Best Song.

(As a side note, this movie was the inspiration for the name of the hotel chain when it started in the 1950s.)

Twelve years later, Crosby, Berlin and “White Christmas” reunited for the film White Christmas.  By now color movies were more common, and the powers that be wanted Crosby singing the song in a color movie.  This time Crosby is joined by Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.  Oscar winner Dean Jagger and character actress Mary Wickes round out the leading roles.

For this film, Berlin supplied a new score, only repeating “White Christmas.” Though several of the songs were already popular in the Berlin songbook.  The main joy in this movie is to see Crosby, Clooney, Kaye and Vera-Ellen at the peak of their careers.

Though most of the songs work in this movie, there is one which doesn’t seem to fit. “Choreography” is a spoof of modern dance. It falls flat and drags the movie down. Though if you look at the chorus, you can see future Oscar winner George Chakiris of West Side Story fame.

It may be surprising that Michael Curtiz directed this film. He is often remembered today as the Oscar winning director of Casablanca (and justifiably so). But in his career he often bounded between light fare (Yankee Doodle Dandy, Life with Father) and heavier (Mildred Pierce, Angels with Dirty Faces) with some adventure films (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood) thrown in.

Separately or together, Holiday Inn and White Christmas are fun Christmas movies.  White Christmas is the stronger of the two, partly because all of the characters are likeable.

Wave the Flag – Annual LR Wind Symphony Flag Day concert in MacArthur Park

The Little Rock Wind Symphony’s annual Flag Day concert will take place this evening in MacArthur Park at 7pm.  Sponsored, in part by the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, the concert is the LRWS’s annual salute to the red, white, and blue.  Picnics are encouraged. There will also be free ice cream and free American flags to wave throughout the concert.

Featuring Jim Munns, baritone, the musicians of the Little Rock Wind Symphony will perform the following selections:

Morton Gould: American Salute
Leroy Anderson: Bugler’s Holiday
George Gates: Sol y Sombra
John Philip Sousa: Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
John Philip Sousa: The Glory of the Yankee Navy
Meacham / Norris: American Patrol
Rodgers and Hart: Blue Moon
Rodgers and Hammerstein: Some Enchanted Evening
Irving Berlin: God Bless America
Bob Lowden: Armed Forces Salute
Samuel Ward / Carmen Dragon: America the Beautiful
John Philip Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever

In case of rain, the concert will be played tomorrow evening.

Flag Day Concert in MacArthur Park tonite

flagdayOn Saturday, June 8, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History will host the 17th annual Flag Day concert, A Stars and Stripes Celebration, featuring the Little Rock Wind Symphony.

The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. and is free to the public.

Our annual Flag Day salute to the red, white, and blue, features hand-clapping marches, flag-waving patriotic songs, toe-tapping happy tunes.  There will be free American flags, ice cream and water.

The program will featured Timothy Tucker, baritone in selections with the LR Wind Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Karen Fannin.  The performance will include:

  • Dudley Buck: Festival Overture on the Star Spangled Banner 
  • John Philip Sousa: Washington Post March
  • Sousa: Who’s Who in Navy Blue
  • Aaron Copland: Old American Songs
  • James Barnes: Star-Spangled Salute!
  • Henry Fillmore: The Klaxon
  • Henry Fillmore: Circus Bee
  • Irving Berlin: God Bless America
  • Bob Lowden: Armed Forces Salute
  • Samuel Ward / Carmen Dragon: America the Beautiful
  • Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever


flagdayaudienceBring a picnic dinner for your family, lawn chairs or a blanket, and enjoy the concert at historic MacArthur Park in downtown Little Rock.   Dogs on leashes are welcome — and don’t forget there is a new dog park in MacArthur Park as well.

Black Hound Barbecue and Hot Dog Mike will be available to purchase food as well.  In the event of rain, the concert will be rescheduled for Sunday, June 9.

This event is sponsored by MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Little Rock Wind Symphony, Blue Bell Creameries, Woodmen of the World, Central Arkansas Water and Premium Refreshment Service.