Black History Month – Andre Watts at Robinson Center

andre-wattsClassical pianist Andre Watts has performed at Robinson Center with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

In 1963, 16 year old Andre Watts won a piano competition to play in the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concert at Lincoln Center, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.  Within weeks of the contest the renowned conductor tapped Watts to substitute for the eminent but ailing pianist Glenn Gould, for a regular performance with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance was televised nationally, with Watts playing Liszt’s E-flat Concerto, and his career was launched.

Born in Germany to an American soldier and a Hungarian mother, he grew up on military bases.  At age 8, his family moved to Philadelphia. Following his 1963 performance, he won a Grammy in 1964 (at age 17) for Best New Classical Artist.

Since the 1960s, he has maintained a busy concert schedule. Along the way, he played for President Nixon’s first inaugural concert, graduated from college, been featured on PBS Live from Lincoln Center, toured Japan and Europe and the US.  At age 26, he received an honorary doctorate from Yale.  In 2004, he was appointed to the music faculty at the University of Indiana.  At age 70, he still performs concerts.  In 2011, he received the National Medal of the Arts.

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Bernstein and Brahms this weekend with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

ASO B&BThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth concert of the 2015-2016 Masterworks series: Bernstein & Brahms, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 27 and 3:00 p.m. Sunday, February 28 at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center at Maumelle High School. Eight collegiate choruses join the ASO to perform Brahms’s German Requiem and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. Bernstein & Brahms is sponsored by CHI St. Vincent. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. 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 www.ArkansasSymphony.org/freekids

Choral Ensembles
The ASO will collaborate with choirs from around the state of Arkansas for Bernstein & Brahms. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Vesper Choir is featured on Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Brahms’s German Requiem features choirs from Arkansas State University, Harding University,  Lyon College, Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Central Arkansas, and the Arkansas Chamber Singers.

Concert Conversations
All concert ticket holders are invited to a pre-concert lecture an hour before each Masterworks concert. These talks feature insights from the Maestro and guest artists, and feature musical examples to enrich the concert experience.

Shuttle service is available
The ASO provides shuttle service from Second Presbyterian Church in Pleasant Valley to the Maumelle Performing Arts Center and back after the concert. For more information and to purchase fare at $10 per rider per concert, please visit https://www.arkansassymphony.org/concerts-tickets/shuttle-service

 

Program
Bernstein            Chichester Psalms
with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Vesper Choir

Brahms                 Ein Deutsches Requiem
with mass collegiate choir and the Arkansas Chamber Singers

Program notes
Bernstein composed Chichester Psalms during a sabbatical from conducting in 1965. In his own words, “I wrote a lot of music, twelve-tone music and avant garde music of various kinds, and a lot of it was very good, and I threw it all away. And what I came out with at the end of the year was a piece called Chichester Psalms, which is simple and tonal and tuneful and as pure B-flat as any piece you can think of.” Ein Deutsches Requiem was not composed for the people of Germany, but in the German language and was intended to be addressed to all mankind. Breaking from the historic requiem form, in which there is a strong focus on Judgment and the seeking of forgiveness, Brahms instead concentrates on offering consolation to the living who are mourning their departed loved ones.

On Twelfth Night – Remember TWELFTH NIGHT is part of 2016 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre lineup

AST 2016 TwelfthToday is Twelfth Night. (Or is it Tonight is Twelfth Night?)  It is a good time to remember that the 2016 the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season will feature Shakespeare’s play of that name, as the one-hour Family Shakespeare adaptation.

Twelfth Night takes us to the island of Illyria, where shipwrecked Viola must disguise herself as a boy—causing complications in her love life.

Actual performance dates and casting will be announced later.

The other three titles for 2016 are:

The 2016 outdoor Shakespeare: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Directed by Robert Quinlan
A comic romp of epic proportions, this magical comedy and its lovers, fairies, and oh-so-Rude Mechanicals are the perfect company for an Arkansas midsummer night.

The 2016 tragedy: ROMEO AND JULIET
Directed by AST Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet
Romance, intrigue, and adventure abound in Shakespeare’s timeless tale of the original
star-crossed lovers caught between their
warring families.

The 2016 musical: WEST SIDE STORY
Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein , Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Jeremy Williams
This beloved musical transplants the story of Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York City, where the warring Jets and Sharks stand in the way of true love.

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

 

Free ASO concert at Capital Hotel tonight with Quapaw Quartet

ASO at CHMusicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will be performing this evening in the lobby of the historic Capital Hotel. The music will start at 5:15 pm.

The concert will feature the Quapaw Quartet.  Members of the quartet will introduce the pieces to be performed: “A Little Night Music” featuring music from Mozart, Bernstein, and Debussy.

  • MOZART – Allegro from String Quartet K. 525
  • LLOYD WEBBER arr. Naughtin – The Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera
  • MOZART – Romanza from String Quartet K. 525
  • DEBUSSY – Clair de Lune
  • MOZART – Menuetto and Trio from String Quartet K. 525
  • BERNSTEIN – Tonight from West Side Story
  • MOZART – Rondo from String Quartet K. 525

The members of the Quapaw Quartet are: Meredith Maddox Hicks, violin; Eric Hayward, violin; Ryan Mooney, viola; Ethan Young, cello.

Unlike concerts in music halls, guests here are encouraged to bring drinks to their seats or to stand and move around while the musicians are playing.  It is a relaxed, informal atmosphere where the audience and musicians alike are able to interact with each other.

In 2011, the ASO started these free concerts in the lobby of the Capital Hotel.  The marble and tile of this historic lobby provide a wonderful acoustic backdrop for the musicians.

2016 season for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announced

AST 2016Last week, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announced the four titles for the 2016 season, their 10th season of bringing the Bard and more to Central Arkansas.

Actual performance dates and casting will be announced later.

The 2016 outdoor Shakespeare: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Directed by Robert Quinlan
A comic romp of epic proportions, this magical comedy and its lovers, fairies, and oh-so-Rude Mechanicals are the perfect company for an Arkansas midsummer night.

The 2016 tragedy: ROMEO AND JULIET
Directed by AST Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet
Romance, intrigue, and adventure abound in Shakespeare’s timeless tale of the original
star-crossed lovers caught between their
warring families.

The 2016 musical: WEST SIDE STORY
Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein , Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Jeremy Williams
This beloved musical transplants the story of Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York City, where the warring Jets and Sharks stand in the way of true love.

The 2016 Family Shakespeare: TWELFTH NIGHT
This one-hour Family Shakespeare adaptation takes us to the island of Illyria, where shipwrecked Viola must disguise herself as a boy—causing complications in her love life.

Beethoven, Bernstein, Brahams, Borodin & Blue Jeans with the 2015-16 Arkansas Symphony Masterworks Season

Under the baton of Maestro Philip Mann, the 2015-2016 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks series features a lineup with something old, something new, something borrowed and jeans that are blue.

The borrowed is the location. For the second of two seasons, the Maumelle Performing Arts Center will be the Masterworks home.

The new includes a World Premiere of D.J. Sparr’s Concerto for Jazz Guitar, which will feature Ted Ludwig.  Another new selection is Scott McAllister’s Black Dog which is based in hard rock.

Among the old friends returning are pieces by Grieg, Dvorák, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Borodin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Stravinsky, Brahms, Shostakovich and Bernstein.

The season kicks off with Grieg’s Piano Concerto on September 26 & 27. The guest artist that weekend is pianist Jon Kimura Parker.  The concert will include Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, Op. 26 “Fingal’s Cave,” Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 and Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 in B minor.

Next is Dvorák’s Symphony No. 8 on October 17 & 18. Imre Palló will be the guest conductor, and Cicely Parnas, cello will be the featured artist. The program will include Kodály’s Dances of Galanta; Haydn’s Concerto for Cello in C Major;and Dvorák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88.

The annual Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert will be November 7 & 8 featuring guest artist Kelly Johnson, clarinet.  The lineup will feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93; McAllister’s Black Dog; and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20a.

2016 will start with Firebird Suite and featured soloist Kiril Laskarov. On January 30 & 31 the program will include Rossini’s La gazza ladra: Overture; Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Visconti’s Black Bend and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite (1919).

February 27 & 28 the program is Bernstein and Brahams.  The concert will have Bernstein’s Chicester Psalms and the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem. 

The 2015-2016 season will wrap up on April 9 & 10 with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. The concerts will include Bernstein’s Candide Overture; Sparr’s Concerto for Jazz Guitar and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47.