Creative Class of 2015: Stephanie Smittle

resized_99263-smittle-v_47-16964_t300A few weeks ago, within the space of a few days, Stephanie Smittle went from originating two roles in an opera to singing with a Klezmer band.  This shows not only her versatility, but also the wide range of music offerings in Little Rock.

A lyric soprano, she is a native of Cave Springs and  holds a Bachelor’s of Philosophy degree from Hendrix College. Comfortable in a variety of genres, Smittle composes and performs her original work with the jazz-Americana group “The Smittle Band,” sings with acclaimed metal band Iron Tongue, leads an Arkansas-music-based duo called “Stephen y Stephanie,” and performs traditional Yiddish music with the Meshugga Klezmer Band.  From venues of a few seats to several hundred, there are few stages in Little Rock on which she has not performed.

Smittle’s operatic roles include: Fiordiligi in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” with Opera in the Ozarks, Queen Anne and Queen Elizabeth Woodville in the premiere of Karen Griebling’s “Richard III: A Crown of Roses, A Crown of Thorns,” Second Lady in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, performances with Opera in the Rock, as well as summer study in Italy as a scholar with the Oberlin Conservatory. Her oratorio performances include Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde,” Rutter’s “Requiem,” and Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem.”

Meshugga Klezmer Band tonight at The Studio Theatre

klezmerCome hear Arkansas’s premiere (maybe only) klezmer ensemble!!!

It all begins tonight at 7:30 pm at The Studio Theatre. For only a $10 cover, experience the joy of Meshugga Klezmer Band (Meshugga.org)

Meshugga Klezmer Band was formed in Little Rock in 1999 and has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, for bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and at Jewish food festivals, Juanita’s Cantina, Wildwood Park, the Afterthought Lounge, Acoustic Sounds Café, and private parties.  They have played on the stage of both the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium and the Ron Robinson Theater.

Klezmer music has eastern European Jewish folk roots and is characterized by the cantorial, vocal, often crying style reminiscent of Jewish prayer. Like the cantor, the lead musicians sob, laugh, and slide from note to note.

The musicians include:

  • Jim Harper: clarinet
  • Izzy Getzov: violin
  • Stephanie Smittle: vocals
  • Rand Retzloff: drums
  • Peter Miller: guitar
  • Casey Huie: Trombone
  • Roland Gladen: bass

 

Meshugga Klezmer Band at South on Main Local Live Tonight

meshugga11-14.jpeg.190x140_q60_cropTonight’s installment of Local Live features the fabulous Meshugga Klezmer Band! Presented by the Oxford American magazine, Local Live showcases the best of local and regional music talent and is always free and open to the public. Call ahead to South on Main to make your reservations and ensure a table: (501) 244-9660.  The music starts at 7:30 p.m.

The Meshugga Klezmer Band was formed in Little Rock in 1999. They are still to this day Arkansas’ only klezmer band. Klezmer music has eastern European Jewish folk roots and is characterized by the cantorial, vocal, and emotional style reminiscent of Jewish prayer. Like the cantor, the lead musicians sob, laugh, growl, and slide from note to note. Meshugga Klezmer Band has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings, and at local festivals, lounges, and private parties.

Band members include Jim Harper (clarinet), Stephanie Smittle (vocals), Izzy Getzov (violin), Casey Huie (trombone), Peter Miller (guitar), Roland Gladden (bass), and Rand Retzloff (drums).

Shopping, Klezmer Music and Big Band Sounds all part of Butler Center fun tonight

holiday_concertCelebrate the season with holiday shopping at Second Friday Art Night in the Butler Center Galleries, 401 President Clinton Avenue, and holiday music presented by Arkansas Sounds at the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Avenue, on Friday, December 12.

Second Friday Art Night will be held 5-8 p.m.

The Arkansas Sounds holiday concert will be held at 7:30 p.m.; the theater doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

At Second Friday Art Night, the Butler Center Galleries will offer hand crafted art by numerous Arkansas artists, perfect for holiday gifts. Refreshments will be served, and one-man-band Paul Morphis will play music in the galleries. Second Friday Art Night is a free, monthly opportunity to visit downtown Little Rock’s businesses, museums, and galleries for an after-hours gallery walk.

The Arkansas Sounds holiday concert in the CALS Ron Robinson Theater will feature Meshugga Klezmer Band and the Dave Rosen Big Band.

Meshugga Klezmer Band, now including Stephanie Smittle on vocals, has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, at venues such as Wildwood Park, the Afterthought Lounge, and Juanita’s Cantina, and at bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and Jewish food festivals since 1999. Klezmer music has eastern European Jewish folk roots and is characterized by its cantorial vocal style reminiscent of Jewish prayer.

Dave Rosen Big Band, a 17-piece band, will play Christmas and Hanukkah favorites with jazz and swing arrangements. Songs will include Jingle Bells, Let It Snow, The Christmas Waltz, and Christmas Time Is Here, made famous in the long-running Peanuts Christmas special.

Arkansas Sounds is a project of the Butler Center focusing on Arkansas music and musicians past and present. For more information, visit www.arkansassounds.org or call 501-918-3033.

Two Jewish Guys Chanukah Special on KUAR

Chanukah begins at sundown tonight.  To get everyone in the spirit of it, KUAR – UALR Public Radio – is presenting the 11th annual Jewish Guys Chanukah Special tonight at 7pm on KUAR – FM 89.1.  Little Rock attorney Phil Kaplan and adman Leslie Singer recorded the broadcast before a live audience earlier in the month.

The Jewish Guys Chanukah Special celebrates cultural Judaism and features skits, music and general shtick. Musical guests included the Meshugga Klezmer Band and the Bauman Brothers.

“This year’s special guest is Susan McDougal who special prosecutor Ken Starr sent to prison for no cooperating with his investigation of President Clinton,” Leslie Singer says. “I’m going to ask her if she celebrated Chanukah with the Jewish inmates she has said took her in.”

Kaplan and Singer started identifying themselves as the Two Jewish Guys during KUAR’s semi-annual on-air fund drives several years ago. In 2001, the Two Jewish Guys and UALR Public Radio began producing an annual recorded Chanukah Special. After first featuring a live audience at the Central Arkansas Library System main campus, it outgrew that space and moved in 2007 to the Clinton Presidential Center.

“Interesting enough, at least two-thirds of our audience are not Jewish. That really inspires me that they are interested in the religious and cultural part of Judaism,” Singer noted to KUAR. “They enjoy a peek into another culture. And they like it.”

The program will also be broadcast on Christmas Day at 1pm. That is also the 5th of 8 days of Chanukah.