The Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra presents fall concert tonight

The Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO), Geoffrey Robson, conductor, presents its fall concert Friday, November 22nd at 7:30 p.m at the Woolly Auditorium at Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (2400 W Markham St).

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles’ top group opens the concert with Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger followed by Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. ASO’s principal horn, David Renfro will join the ASYO for their last piece, Chabrier’s Larghetto.

General Admission tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at; at the venue beginning 60 minutes prior to the concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 1. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to this performance free of charge, and these complimentary tickets can be reserved via phone or walkup.

Geoffrey Robson, conductor
David Renfro, horn

WAGNER – Prelude to Die Meistersinger
TCHAIKOVSKY – Nutcracker Suite
CHABRIER – Larghetto
Featuring ASO Principal Horn, David Renfro

Darth Vader and Trombones tonight with the Little Rock Wind Symphony

lrws darthA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… there were trombones! Join the Little Rock Wind Symphony for the concert of the intergalactic kind!

Israel Getzov conducts the evening which features solisits Justin Cook, trombone.

The program includes:

Alfred Reed: Hounds of Spring
Richard Wagner: “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” from Lohengrin
Jacques Press: Wedding Dance
Meredith Wilson: 76 Trombones
Richard Peaslee: Arrows of Time
     Justin Cook, trombone
John Williams: Stars Wars Trilogy
7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 25th at Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock.

Brahms, Wagner and Schubert highlight the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra concerts this weekend

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth concert in the 2014 -2015 Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series: Schubert’s Unfinished.

Renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman joins the ASO to perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto. The program opens with the Prelude to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and reaches a finale with Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

The concert takes place Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center, 100 Victory Lane, Maumelle AR.

American Airlines 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.
Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at; 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 the ASO website.


Vadim Gluzman, violin – Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction

Philip Mann, conductor


WAGNER: Prelude to Die Meistersinger
BRAHMS: Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 77
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, “Unfinished”


Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger introduces the themes of the hero, von Stolzing, and the comic villain, Beckmesser, with a display of contrapuntal ingenuity worthy of Bach.

For Brahms, as it had been for Beethoven, a concerto was no less weighty and important than a symphony. Brahms and soloist Joseph Joachim had been friends for 25 years when Brahms began work on the Violin Concerto in D Major. While ignoring most of Joachim’s suggestions, Brahms crafted a powerful, warm, and dramatic concerto that nonetheless met his requirements of musical substance over pyrotechnic flash.

There are actually several ‘unfinished’ symphonies left by Schubert, but the haunting Symphony No. 8  is the most famous of the fragments. The work was composed while he was seriously ill, and also undergoing a major shift in creative direction. He completed the first two movements in every detail. After composing and partially orchestrating sketches for a third movement, he set the symphony aside and appears never to have returned to it again.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 49th season in 2014-2015, 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.

Beethoven, Wagner, Ghosts and Tangos tonight at Ark Symphony’s River Rhapsodies

ASO_revTonight at 7pm, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s final 2013-2014 concert of the Parker Lexus River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series will feature ASO Musicians playing Wagner, Beethoven, Theofanidis and Piazzolla. The concert will be held at the Clinton Presidential Center.

The program is an intimate showcase of the ASO’s musicians.

General Admission tickets for River Rhapsodies concerts are $23, and Student tickets are available for $10. Tickets can be purchased online at, over the phone at (501) 666-1761 or at the door.

The program will include:

THEOFANIDIS                    O Vis Aeternitatis for String Quartet and Piano
(Quapaw Quartet, Tatiana Roitman, piano)

BEETHOVEN                      Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost”
I.          Allegro vivace e con brio
II.         Largo assai ed espressivo
III.        Presto
(Geoffrey Robson, violin, David Gerstein, cello, Julie Cheek, piano)


PIAZZOLLA                         Histoire du Tango
I. Bordello 1900
II.        Café 1930
III.       Night Club 1960
IV. Concert d’Aujourd’hui (Modern Day Concert)
(Kelly Johnson, Karla Fournier, Carina Washington, clarinet; Lyle Wong, bass clarinet)

WAGNER                              Siegfried Idyll
(Diane McVinney, flute; Leanna Booze, oboe; Kelly Johnson, Karla Fournier, clarinet; Susan Bell Leon, bassoon; David Renfro, Brent Shires, French horn; Richard Jorgensen, trumpet; Kiril Laskarov, Andrew Irvin, violin; Katherine Reynolds, viola; Daniel Cline, cello; Barron Weir, contrabass)


Beethoven’s “Ghost” Trio is so-called because of its eerie slow movement. It is speculated that the ghostly sound may have been influenced by Beethoven’s thoughts of  composing a Macbeth opera.

Originally written for flute and guitar, Histoire du Tango is one of Piazzolla’s most famous compositions. It has been arranged for many ensembles and is presented here as a demonstration of the lush sound of a clarinet quartet. The work attempts to demonstrate the evolution of the Tango, and the composer provided these notes:

Bordello, 1900: The tango originated in Buenos Aires in 1882. It was first played on the guitar and flute. Arrangements then came to include the piano, and later, the concertina. This music is full of grace and liveliness. It paints a picture of the good natured chatter of the French, Italian, and Spanish women who peopled those bordellos as they teased the policemen, thieves, sailors, and riffraff who came to see them. This is a high-spirited tango.

Café, 1930: This is another age of the tango. People stopped dancing it as they did in 1900, preferring instead simply to listen to it. It became more musical, and more romantic. This tango has undergone total transformation: the movements are slower, with new and often melancholy harmonies. Tango orchestras come to consist of two violins, two concertinas, a piano, and a bass. The tango is sometimes sung as well.

Night Club, 1960: This is a time of rapidly expanding international exchange, and the tango evolves again as Brazil and Argentina come together in Buenos Aires. The bossa nova and the new tango are moving to the same beat. Audiences rush to the night clubs to listen earnestly to the new tango. This marks a revolution and a profound alteration in some of the original tango forms.

Modern-Day Concert: Certain concepts in tango music become intertwined with modern music. Bartok, Stravinsky, and other composers reminisce to the tune of tango music. This is today’s tango, and the tango of the future as well.

Wagner composed Siegfried Idyll  – in honor of his son – for his wife, Cosima. The piece was very private and filled with references of personal significance to the composer and his wife, many of which went unknown to the public for a long time.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 48th season in 2013-2014.  Under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann, the ASO performs more than thirty concerts each year for more than 42,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series and River Rhapsodies Chamber Series, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 24,000 school children and over 200 schools.

ASO Masterworks for 2014-2015 announced

ASO_revThough there are several concerts remaining in each of their series, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has announced three of their 2014-2015 series.

Next year is the first of their two-year hiatus from Robinson Center Music Hall (as it gets transformed into a true music hall instead of a civic gathering room).

The Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series will be performed at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center. To entice audiences who have been used to attending Robinson for ASO concerts for 40 years, Music Director Philip Mann has programmed a line up with many familiar composers. In addition, an Oscar winning musical genius will be presented.

The series will kick off on September 27 & 28 with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring Andrew Staupe on piano.  Also on the program will be John Corigliano’s Promenade Overture and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major.  Corigliano is the Oscar winner, having won for composing the score of The Red Violin.

On October 18 & 19, the ASO will heat things up with Blazing Brass featuring trumpeter Richard Jorgensen.  The program will consist of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E Major.

The now annual Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert will be November 8 & 9. Sharon Isbin’s guitar work will be featured as the ASO plays Corigliano’s Three Hallucinations from Altered States as well as his Troubadours-Variations for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra.  The Beethoven portion of the evening will be his Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

The Masterworks series will ring in 2015 on January 31 & February 1 with a Tchaikovsky & Mozart Festival.  Vladimir Verbitsky will be guest conductor. The evening will feature violin soloist Randall Goosby.  The program consists of Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Mozart’s Concerto for Violin No. 5 in A Major, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor.

On February 28 and March 1, the ASO will present Schubert’s “Unfinished.”  In addition to that masterpiece, the musicians will play Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger and Brahms’ Concerto for Violin in D. Major.

The Masterworks Series for 2014-2015 will conclude with an evening of Mozart, Prokofiev & Strauss.  Pianist Yeol Eum Son will be the featured guest artist.  The program will consist of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major – Jupiter, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59 Suite.

All Masterworks concerts will be performed at 7:30pm on Saturday evenings and 3pm on Sunday evenings.

The other ASO series will be previewed by the Culture Vulture in the coming days.

ASO Closes Out 2011-2012 MasterWorks This Weekend

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director/Conductor Philip Mann presents its final 2011-2012 MasterWorks concert this weekend.  Entitled Desert & Sea it features performances of works by Wagner, Torke, and Debussy.


The program will commence with the Overture to Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.  Following that number will be the American premiere of Michael Torke’s Mojave Concerto for Marimba.  Torke is the inaugural ASO Composer of the Year.  The soloist on this selection is wunderkind marimbist Alexej Gerassimez.  The program concludes with Debussey’s La Mer.

The concerts take place at 8pm on Saturday, April 14 and 3pm on Sunday, April 15 at Robinson Center Music Hall.

About Michael Torke

Michael Torke has practically defined post-Minimalism, a music which utilizes the repetitive structures of a previous generation to incorporate musical techniques from both the classical tradition and the contemporary pop world.

Highlights of his career include: Color Music (1985–89), a series of orchestral pieces that each explore a single, specific color; Javelin, recorded both for Argo and for John William’s Summon the Heroes, the official 1996 Olympics album; Four Seasons, a 65-minute oratorio commissioned by the Walt Disney Company to celebrate the millennium and premiered by Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic; Strawberry Fields, whose “Great Performances” broadcast was nominated for an Emmy Award; and two evening-length story ballets, The Contract, and An Italian Straw Hat, for James Kudelka and the National Ballet of Canada.

About Alexej Gerassimez

Alexej Gerassimez was born in Essen, Germany in 1987 and received his first piano lessons at the age of five. Two years later he began to play percussion. After various early successes in competitions, among others 1st awards in the International Marimba Competition in Nuremberg, the European Music Competition for Youth, the Southwest-German Chamber Music Competition, four 1st awards including the highest number of possible points in Jugend Musiziert (a renowned national music competition for youths) and he won the Deutscher Musikrat-Competition (a national competition in all instrument categories for young adults) in 2010. In the same year he received the 1st award, the Audience Award and the Press Award in the TROMP Percussion Competition in the Netherlands, one of the most renowned international competitions for solo percussion. Today Alexej Gerassimez is presumed to be one of the leading percussion soloists of his generation.

His vivid performance activities have lead him to a wide range of European countries as well as to Japan, where he gave solo performances in Tokyo and Yokohama in the context of the German Year in 2006.

The multi-faceted young artist dedicates himself to composition, too. First publications with the Danish publisher Edition Svitzer have already been performed in the USA, Canada, Japan, and Europe.