ODE TO JOY and Spoken Word winners presented by Arkansas Symphony Orchestra this weekend

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Music Director and Conductor Philip Mann present the fourth concert of the 2018-2019 Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks season, Beethoven’s 9th: Ode to Joy on Saturday, February 23rd and Sunday, February 24th at the Robinson Center.

The concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. The program opens with a spoken word performance presented in partnership with the Central Arkansas Library System. After the spoken word segment, more than 300 singers from eight Arkansas collegiate and professional choirs will take the stage with ASO for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which also features vocal soloists soprano Maria Fasciano, mezzo soprano Christin-Marie Hill, tenor Vernon Di Carlo, and bass Adam Cioffari.

All concert ticket holders are also invited to Concert Conversations, a pre-concert talk one hour before each Masterworks concert in the Upper Tier Lobby of the Robinson Center. These talks feature insights from the Maestro and guest artists, and feature musical examples to enrich the concert experience.

Tickets are $16, $36, $57 and $68; 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. 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 https://www.arkansassymphony.org/freekids.

Philip Mann, conductor

Spoken Word Performers
Osyrus Bolly
Brooke Elliott
Rosslyn Elliott
Red Hawk
Kristy Ikanih
Jamee McAdoo
Dariane LyJoi Mull
Marvin Schwartz

Beethoven Soloists 
Maria Fasciano, soprano
Christin-Marie Hill, mezzo soprano
Vernon Di Carlo, tenor
Adam Cioffari, bass

Arkansas Intercollegiate and Professional Chorus
Arkansas Chamber Singers, John Erwin, director
Arkansas State University, Cherie Collins, director
Harding University, Cliff Ganus, director
Lyon College, Michael Oriatti, director
Ouachita Baptist University, Gary Gerber, director
Southern Arkansas University Magnolia, David DeSeguirant, director
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Jerron Liddell, director
University of Central Arkansas, John Erwin, director

Program
VARIOUS – Spoken Word Performances
BEETHOVEN – Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125

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Creative Class 2016: David Renfro

cc16-renfroWhile David Renfro may be known for his soaring horn playing with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, he also serves the ASO as a staff member.  In recognition of these dual talents, earlier this year David was selected to be one of only nine participants in the League of American Orchestras’ Emerging Leaders Program. 

A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, David is the Director of Operations for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  He received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Horn Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  In 2005, he moved to Little Rock when he became the Principal Horn of the ASO, a position he continues to hold. 

In addition to performing, David taught horn and chamber music at Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University through 2009, when he was hired to be the ASO’s Orchestra Personnel Manager.  In 2010, he became the Orchestra Personnel and Operations Manager and in 2016, the Director of Operations for the ASO.  

As a musician, David has also performed with the Memphis, Illinois, Missouri, Owensboro, Greenville, and Texarkana Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.  In addition to his work as an orchestra musician, David maintains an active teaching studio and performs regularly as a chamber musician and soloist.  

David is a member of the woodwind quintet, Etesian Winds, as well as the ASO brass quintet.  David also gave the Arkansas premiere of American composer James Beckel’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated concerto for horn, “The Glass Bead Game,” with the Henderson State University Wind Ensemble.  Other recent solo engagements have included Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 297b with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra and Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4, K. 495 with both the Arkansas and Missouri Symphony Orchestras. 

Creative Class 2016: Bonnie Montgomery

cc16-montgomeryA true and multi-faceted artist,  Bonnie Montgomery has an artistic vision that transcends classification and genre.

Following the release of EPs “Cruel” (2012) and “Joy” (2013), Bonnie released her self-titled LP in December 2014 on Nathan Howdeshell’s (of Gossip) Portland/Arkansas label Fast Weapons.

Bonnie’s southern debut album showcases her powerful operatic voice while her music blends elements of classic country with spaghetti western and traditional Ozark folk song.  Backed by a rowdy, virtuosic hillbilly band, Bonnie has toured on her recent album extensively throughout the U.S.  The album’s critical acclaim alongside her wild and law-less live performances have earned Montgomery the title of the Ameripolitan Outlaw Female 2016.

A classically trained singer whose southern roots run deep, Bonnie has taken her raucous, high-art spin on golden-era country/western music through the U.S. and Europe.

Bonnie’s composition of the modern folk opera “Billy Blythe”, about the childhood of Bill Clinton, previewed in New York, and has earned her the attention of publications such as The New Yorker, The Economist, The Huffington Post and the London Daily Telegraph.  The opera had its official world premiere by Opera Ithaca in April 2016 in Ithaca, NY.  In September it was staged by Opera in the Rock, and an upcoming production is to be staged at Ouachita Baptist University.

Little Rock Look Back: Central & Hall Football at 2-0

lrchs-lrhhsAfter two weeks of prep gridiron (that is high school football to those who don’t write like a 1950s inky wretch), Little Rock Central and Little Rock Hall are both posting records of 2 wins and 0 losses.  This feat has not been achieved in quite a while.

How long?  37 seasons!  It was 1979, the last time that the Tigers and Warriors were both out of the gate at 2-0.

1979

Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Bill Clinton was in his first term as Governor. First Lady Hillary Rodham was several months pregnant with Chelsea. Hall High and Razorback standout Webb Hubbell was Mayor of Little Rock.  The City’s population was in the 150,000s (it would be 159,151 after the 1980 census).  Little Rock had an area of approximately 80 square miles.  (Today it is approximately 200,000 citizens over 122 square miles.)

Lou Holtz was coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Southwest Conference.  Harry Hall was in his first season as Commissioner of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference.  Rex Nelson was a student at Ouachita.  Paul Eells was in his second year with KATV, while Dave Woodman was finishing his first decade at KARK.  Gary Hogan was anchoring sports for KTHV.  Hogs football games were broadcast on KAAY radio.  While Bob Buice and Jim Elder were ruling the airwaves at KARN, Craig O’Neill was dominating mornings at KLAZ.

Orville Henry, Jim Bailey, and Wadie Moore covered college and high school sports for the Arkansas Gazette.  The Arkansas Democrat had switched to morning delivery and hired John Robert Starr as editor.  Both papers carried ads for Kempners, Golds, M.M. Cohn, Skaggs Albertsons, Minute Man, Union National Bank, Commercial National Bank, Worthen National Bank, and First National Bank.

Metrocentre Mall existed with bricked over streets on Main and Capitol. The Grady Manning Hotel and Hotel Marion still stood (though in their twilight days before their February 1980 date with demolition.)

So a lot has changed since Central and Hall previously achieved this.  In the interval, Central has been 2-0 a dozen times and Hall has achieved that a brace. But the schools never managed it during the same season.  Three times the schools both managed 1-1 seasons and seven times they each started at 0-2.

The 1979 Warriors were helmed by C. W. Keopple, who would lead the team from the 1960s into the 1980s winning four conference/state titles. (When your conference is statewide, winning one got you the other.)  Bernie Cox was in his fifth season as the Tigers’ mentor, with two state championships already under his belt, five more would be in his future.

The teams stayed tied through the fourth week. But in the fifth week, while Central won, Hall lost to Parkview by a score of 7-0.  The following week, the Warriors rebounded, while the Tigers settled for a 0 to 0 tie with Ole Main.  Weeks seven through ten saw both teams notching another win each week.  This set up a Thanksgiving Day classic with the state’s top two teams facing off.  Central was slightly favored, but season records seldom carried any weight when the two cross-town rivals played on Thanksgiving afternoon.  In an upset, Hall bested Central by a score of 17 to 0.

From 1987 to 1990, the second game of the season was the Hall-Central matchup, which meant that it would have been impossible to both start with a 2-0 record.  This second week matchup was made necessary by the fact that not only could the two teams no longer face off on Thanksgiving after 1982, but the two schools were not in the same conference from 1983 through 2000. So the faceoff was early in the season, during the non-conference portion.

Due to subsequent restructurings by the Arkansas Activities Association, the two schools have not played a football game since 2005.  The bell from the “Battle of the Bell” which was supposed to replace the pageantry and intense rivalry of the Thanksgiving Day matchups, sat forlornly and largely forgotten in the trophy case at Central following the 2005 edition which Central won by a score of 24 to 7.  (That season Central started at 0-2 on the way to a 5-5 record and Hall started at 1-1 on the way to a 3-7 record.)  UPDATE: As noted in a comment on this piece, the Bell has now been refurbished and sits proudly at Quigley Stadium.  Thank you Belinda Stilwell for the information!

Who knows how the 2016 season will turn out for these two teams?  In the past 2-0 has led both to State Championships and to a 6-4 record.  But for two schools that have struggled in the past few seasons, to start with a 2-0 record is quite an accomplishment. For both to start with that record is remarkable.

 

While the blog hiatus and a restructuring continue, this was a bit of history that needed mentioning.

Tonight at South on Main’s Local Live – Hired Guns featuring Bruce Johnston, Tyndall Jackson, and Cliff Aaron

LOCAL_LIVE_Logo2The streets are clearing, and things are returning to normal. This includes the fact that Local Live concert series takes the stage tonight at South on Main at 7:30 pm.

Join the Oxford American magazine for this week’s free concert starring Hired Guns featuring Bruce Johnston, Tyndall Jackson, and Cliff Aaron! Call ahead at (501) 244-9660 to guarantee your seat for this popular series. Local Live is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Cosmic Cowboy Music.

Bruce Johnston is a bassist and award-winning composer with a doctorate in music composition from the University of Miami. He is a lecturer at Ouachita Baptist University where he overseas the Classical Guitar and String Bass programs. Johnston has studied with the likes of jazz legends Donald Brown and Jerry Coker, and he can be seen around the region performing with Charlotte Taylor, Kim Griffin, and David Rosen, as well as a host of other great talents.

Tyndall Jackson is a thirty-year veteran of the delta region, and he holds a guitar performance degree and received the Outstanding Musicianship award as a student. He has toured extensively with his band, Mojo Depot, and was active in Los Angeles for ten years before moving back home to Little Rock. Jackson has a true gift of seamlessly connecting ideas with blazing speed that builds in ever-increasing intensity, and he is quickly becoming a local guitar legend.

Cliff Aaron is a seasoned professional drummer and the CEO/Founder of Drummerboyinfinity—dedicated to bringing attention and respect to the incredible musical talent that exists in the region. He grew up in central Arkansas and has performed, toured, and recorded with the likes of Beyonce, 311, and Victor Wooten. Aaron’s aggressive yet finessing approach to the drum set is incredibly unique and boundless; he creates sheets of sound that truly transcend the audience to a higher plane.

Chamber Music Recital at UALR

Tonight at UALR, Felice Magendanz-Farrell, Naoki Hakutani and David Renfro will present a chamber music recital.  The program begins at 7:30 in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall on the UALR campus.

Cellist Felice Magendanz-Farrell was born in Utica, N.Y., and educated at Indiana University under artists, Janos Starker, Josef Gingold and Gyorgy Sebok. Chamber music and teaching have been her enduring pursuits throughout her life from Indiana University to Minnesota University, Eastman School of Music, University of Central Arkansas, to concerts in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Europe and Eastern Europe.

Japanese American pianist Naoki Hakutani, a native of Kent, Ohio, has performed as a soloist and collaborator across the U.S. as well as Mexico, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Hakutani is currently serving as assistant professor of piano at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He received degrees from Northwestern University and Indiana University in Bloomington prior to receiving the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

A native of Kingsport, Tenn., hornist David Renfro received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in horn performance from the Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music. Currently, David resides in Little Rock, where he is in his seventh season with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, currently serving as principal horn. In 2010 he also became the symphony’s Orchestra Personnel and Operations Manager. Prior to that appointment, David taught horn and music at Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University. In addition to his duties with the orchestra, David maintains an active teaching studio and performs regularly as a chamber musician and soloist.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra – Beethoven, Schoenberg, Takei

Actor and activist George Takei joins the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra this weekend in concerts at Robinson Center Music Hall to narrate Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw at a concert featuring a message of hope and unity with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony also known as Ode to Joy.

The ASO MasterWorks concerts are tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 3pm.

Takei’s appearance is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust and he will take the stage as narrator during Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw. The narration that accompanies this piece depicts the story of a concentration camp survivor from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. Takei, a Japanese American who as a child was interned at an internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas during World War II, is a supporter of human right issues and community activist.  Takei is chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and was appointed to the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission by former President Clinton.
Just after Schoenberg’s moving piece, Maestro Philip Mann and the ASO musicians will be joined by over 400 voices from the state of Arkansas for Beethoven’s prayer for hope and peace,Symphony No. 9, Ode to Joy. “This is perhaps the most recognizable work in the history of classical music, and for good reason,” said Mann. “Its message of triumph and victory through a shared brotherhood between peoples is an enduring, timeless, and transcendent declaration. Seen as a watershed movement in music history, the work has gained such significance and is now synonymous with important moments in world history—like its performance marking the re-unification of Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Featuring:

George Takei, narrator
Schoenberg Chorus
River City Men’s Chorus
Beethoven Chorus
Arkansas State University
Harding University
Hendrix College
Lyon College
Ouachita Baptist University
Philander Smith College
Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Members of River City Men’s Chorus
Philip Mann, conductor
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra