Today is #ArkansasGives Day

Arkansas GivesIf you are like me, you’ve been receiving notifications about Arkansas Gives Day for months.  Well, today is the day!  From 8am until 8pm, you can help grow the love for Arkansas’s nonprofit organizations by making a donation to the charity of your choice.  The event is sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation.

As a special incentive to give, each gift made through ArkansasGives on April 7, 2016 will be matched with additional bonus dollars; the more you give, the more bonus dollars your favorite charity will receive.

Nonprofit organizations and other tax-exempt charitable organizations may participate if they:

  • Are headquartered in Arkansas or have a base of operations in Arkansas.
  • Are a member of the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance.
  • Have 501c3 tax exempt status under IRS code AND are qualified as a 509(a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) organization or as a private operating foundation.

The minimum amount is $25; there is no maximum amount you may give. You may designate up to 10 charities per transaction.

Accepted Forms of Payment: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards online.
You will receive an email receipt of your gift; please retain it for tax purposes. Unless you choose to remain anonymous, your donor information will be sent to the nonprofits to which you give.

Here is a list of cultural organizations which offer services within the boundaries of the City of Little Rock.

There are MANY MANY MANY other worthy nonprofits which are participating. But since this is a culture blog, only the cultural institutions are listed.  But please consider visiting the website and perusing the entire list.


Explore Little Rock’s civil rights history with new app

Little Rock-area residents and visitors have a new way to explore the city’s rich civil rights history.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute on Race and Ethnicity and Little Rock city officials  have unveiled the Arkansas Civil Rights History Tour app.

The free Apple and Android app guides users on an excursion through some of the city’s most influential historical sites, going back to the 1840s. Each of the 35 stops on the GPS-guided tour includes compelling narratives, historic photos, audio, and links to related content.

Tour stops range from the L.C. and Daisy Bates House to the Trail of Tears. The tour includes a total of three National Historic Landmarks, three National Register Historic Districts, and numerous buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Narrated in both English and Spanish, the app also offers information about Jewish history in Little Rock, Hispanic migrations to Arkansas, and Native American tribes.

Organizers recommend app users begin their route at Broadway and West Ninth Street in downtown Little Rock, but the app can help people customize their own path.

A collaboration of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, led to the creation of the Arkansas Humanities Council-funded app.

“The institute’s mission is to remember and understand the past, to inform and engage the present, and to shape and define the future in the area of race and ethnicity,” said Dr. John Kirk, director of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

“The tour app helps us to do all those things: It powerfully sheds light on the past, it allows people to engage with the past in the present moment, and it helps us to consider how those legacies and lessons can shape and define the future of the city and state.”

The app can be found in the Apple App Store and on Google Play by searching for “Arkansas history.”

New Public Radio Network in Arkansas launched

natural state newsThe Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) awarded a $278,300 grant to four Arkansas public radio stations to support the creation of a statewide multimedia journalism collaboration based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  Natural State News will be a statewide news service focusing on reaching rural areas of the state.

KUAR, UALR’S public radio station, will be the lead station for the project, joined by Fayetteville’s KUAF, Jonesboro’s KASU, and Texarkana’s KTXK. Ben Fry, general manager of KUAR and classical station KLRE, will coordinate the collaboration to create and broadcast thematically unified content relevant to the interests and needs of Arkansans.

Though the stations have often collaborated, the radio news service marks their first official joint venture. Together, the stations’ staff members at the stations will report stories centered on three themes:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Energy

NSN will report breaking news as well as produce related special interest stories. The resulting multimedia content will be published online and heard on local and national public radio programs such as NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Here and Now.

“CPB is pleased to support this historic collaboration of Arkansas public media stations,” said Bruce Theriault, senior vice president of journalism and radio, CPB. “The Natural State News collaboration is an example of increased media integration and a pathway for stations to work together to maximize resources while expanding their high-quality journalism.”

The grant will help fund four new positions: a managing editor, two additional reporters, and a partner manager, who will raise additional funds for the project. Three of the new positions will be based in Little Rock, with one reporter to work out of Jonesboro.

Natural State News plans to break new ground with in-depth multimedia reporting to reach extensively into rural Arkansas to tell unfolding stories about wealth, poverty, race, and decision-making in education, healthcare, and the environment. Little-told stories from the region will give a distinctive vantage point for understanding larger national experiences.

NSN will partner with the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), and the print publication El Latino to provide and promote its diverse, nuanced content. All stories will be available in both Spanish and English, and NSN is committed to supporting diversity in its staff, student interns, and stories.

For more information on the partner stations, go to their websites: KLRE/KUARKUAFKASU and KTXK.


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.

Creative Class of 2015: Israel Getzov

Israel Getzov 286x400Newly appointed Little Rock Wind Symphony music director and conductor Israel Getzov has won wide acclaim for his ability to evoke expressive and enthusiastic performances from his musicians, and begins his inaugural season with the LRWS in 2015-2016.

Getzov is also the music director of the Conway Symphony Orchestra and the principal conductor of the Tianjin (China) Philharmonic. He is in demand as guest conductor in the United States as well as China.

As the Assistant Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony from 2001-2008, Getzov led classical subscription, pops, and education concerts as well as numerous outreach concerts around the state.

Getzov also hosted his own weekly radio program called “Izzy Investigates” on KLRE Classical 90.5 in Little Rock, and has performed live on WFMT and WBEZ in Chicago.

Raised in Chicago, Mr. Getzov’s musical studies began with the violin at age four, and later included percussion, which he played in his schools’ wind ensembles and jazz bands. At sixteen he earned a position in the violin section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Getzov holds a bachelor of music degree from the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and a master’s degree in conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and received additional training at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and the National Conducting Institute with the National Symphony Orchestra.

First UALR Artspree of the season features Saint Louis Brass Quintet

SLBQNewSmall-825x510The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s first Artspree event of the 2015-16 season will feature one of America’s longest standing brass quintets, Saint Louis Brass Quintet, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, in Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall.

Originally formed by members of the St. Louis Symphony, the Saint Louis Brass Quintet has performed more than 2,500 engagements throughout the world during its 40 years.  Current members of the Quintet are Allan Dean, trumpet; Ray Sasaki, trumpet;  Jeff Nelsen, horn; Melvyn Jernigan, trombone; and Daniel Perantoni, tuba. Jernigan is the only original member still with the group.

General admission for the concert is $15 and $10 for non-UALR students. Admission for UALR students, faculty, and staff is free. For tickets call 501.569.8993 or order online at

Artspree is a performing arts series funded in part by the UALR Chancellor’s Circle Foundation and supported by KLRE Classical 90.5.

Artspree aims to bring unique musical and cultural performances to central Arkansas. In addition to the opening concert by the Saint Louis Brass Quintet, the series will feature an award-winning mime who has appeared on Broadway and two trios — one jazz and another that specializes in a wide array of musical periods.

Thanks to a partnership with the Little Rock School District, Artspree also is steeped in its commitment to educational outreach to young students.

For more information, contact Dr. Naoki Hakutani, Artspree director at 501.683.7230 or

Tonight at 7 – AR Symphony River Rhapsodies series starts with Jon Kimura Parker

ASO lowres-jkp-321The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the opening concert of the 2015-2016 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series: Artist of Distinction: Jon Kimura Parker on September 29, 2015 at 7:00 PM.

ASO musicians including the Rockefeller Quartet are joined by the 2015-2016 Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction, pianist Jon Kimura Parker, for music from Borodin, Hirtz, and Beethoven in the beautiful Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center. 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 are can be purchased online at; at the Clinton Presidential Center box office beginning 60 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100.


Jon Kimura Parker, piano

Rockefeller Quartet:

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

Leanna Booze, oboe

Kelly Johnson, clarinet

Susan Bell León, bassoon

David Renfro, horn


BORODIN                            String Quartet No. 2 in D Major

HIRTZ                                    Wizard of Oz Fantasy

BEETHOVEN                       Quintet for Piano and Winds, Op. 16

Program Notes:

Mr. Parker on Hirtz’s Fantasy, from

My friend and colleague, the composer William Hirtz, can work pianistic miracles out of harmony, rhythm and texture. Several years ago he showed me a piano duet Fantasy that he had composed using several of Harold Arlen’s iconic themes from the “Wizard of Oz” soundtrack. It was joyous, technically raucous, and seemingly featured dozens of notes all at once. I jokingly commented that I if he could arrange this Fantasy for one piano two hands, I would happily play it. I thought nothing more about it.

Fast forward several months: one day my fax machine started up and several insanely dotted pages spewed forth. I recognized the music – it was indeed the Fantasy arranged for two hands – but couldn’t imagine how it might be played. I called Bill and complained, “Hey, didn’t you know that when you rearrange a four hand work for two hands, that you’re supposed to leave out some of the notes!!

Here is the Wizard of Oz music in all its glory. It’s one of the most difficult works I’ve played, period. If you’re a pianist and would like to order a copy of either the two handed or (more reasonably playable) four handed version, feel free to contact William Hirtz directly at

About Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 50th season in 2015-2016, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, and performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools.

For more information about the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra call 501-666-1761 or visit