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.

Florence Price focus of Mosaic Templars “Lunch and Learn” program today at 12 noon

Take a break from your work day for a Midday Music Moment at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center!  The program begins at 12 noon today (November 7).

They are partnering with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra to bring a special lunchtime presentation and performance by pianist/composer Karen Walwyn.

Karen will talk about one of Arkansas’s most renowned classical composers, Florence Price, and play snippets of her work. Karen will also lead discussion about the barriers that Price and other African American classical musicians have faced.

This is a free event.

The 2019-2020 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra MasterWorks season is announced

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announced its 2019-2020 Masterworks which includes guest conductors and a concert conducted by Geoffrey Robson, ASO’s Associate Conductor who has been named Interim Artistic Director.

The Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series opens Sep. 28-29, 2019, with a concert presented in partnership with ACANSA Arts Festival of the South. Luminary conductor JoAnn Falletta is the first featured guest conductor, and American trio Time for Three is featured in work written for them by former ASO Conductor in Residence Jennifer Higdon. The program also features Ravel’s La Valse and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

ASO’s casual concert and street party, Beethoven and Blue Jeans, returns Nov. 9-10 and features works by two Arkansas composers: William Grant Still’s Festive Overture and Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement. Karen Walwyn, a specialist in the piano works of Price, is the featured soloist, and Andrew Grams will conduct the concert.

The Masterworks series ends May 2-3, 2020, featuring music from Fanny Mendelssohn and Schubert along with the return of prestigious cellist, Zuill Bailey, performing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto.

The 2019-2020 season coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. ASO is celebrating by featuring two outstanding women conductors, JoAnn Falletta and Carolyn Kuan, two women soloists, pianist Karen Walwyn and violinist Simone Porter, and by performing works from four women composers: Pulitzer Prize-winner and former ASO Composer in Residence, Jennifer Higdon, an active and popular composer today, Little Rock’s own Florence Price, Lili Boulanger, and Fanny Mendelssohn.

The full Masterworks series includes:

  • JoAnn Falletta and Time for Three, Sep. 28 & 29, 219, with music from Higdon, Ravel, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.
  • Beethoven & Blue Jeans, Nov. 9 & 10, 2019, ASO’s annual casual concert, featuring works from Arkansas composers Florence Price and William Grant Still and guest conductor Andrew Grams.
  • Copland’s Rodeo, Jan. 25-26, 2020, with guest conductor Carolyn Kuan, and music from Ginastera and Bartok;
  • Sibelius & Debussy, Feb. 29 – Mar. 1, 2020, conducted by Geoffrey Robson, and featuring a multimedia work: In Seven Days: A Concerto for Piano and Moving Image, with pianist Andrius Zlabys.
  • Symphonie Fantastique, Apr. 18-19, 2020, with guest conductor Eric Jacobsen, and violinist Simone Porter performing the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 in addition to the titular orchestral showpiece by Berlioz.
  • Zuill Bailey Plays Dvorak, May 2 & 3, 2020, with guest conductor Vladimir Kulenovic.

The concerts will be at Robinson Center Performance Hall.