Clarinet Quintets Old and New tonight at St. Luke’s Festival of the Senses.

Five musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will play a free Festival of the Senses concert at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Clarinetist Kelly Johnson, violinists Andrew Irvin and Meredith Maddox Hicks, violist Katherine Williamson, and cellist Stephen Feldman will play Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major and contemporary Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh’s “The Fence, the Rooftop, and the Distant Sea.”

The concert, which is free and open to the public, is the fourth in the 2019-20 season of the Festival of the Senses performing arts series sponsored by St. Luke’s and will be followed by a reception in the church’s parish hall.

Written in 1789 and sometimes called the Stadler Quintet, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s only completed clarinet quintet is one of his most admired works. His Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581, has four movements: Allegro, Larghetto, Menuetto, and Allegretto con Variazioni.

Image result for the fence the rooftop and the distant sea“The Fence, the Rooftop, and the Distant Sea” by Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh is a work in five movements inspired by memories of his Damascus birthplace in a distant view of the Syrian coastline seen from a rooftop in Beirut. Azmeh has achieved worldwide fame as a clarinetist and composer with a distinctive voice across diverse musical genres.

A graduate of the Julliard School with a doctorate in music from the City University of New York, he has taken his music around the globe as a soloist, composer and improviser.  His album “Uneven Sky” with the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra won the OpusKlassik Award in 2019, and he is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, whose 2017 Grammy Award-winning album “Sing Me Home” features Kinan as a clarinetist and composer.

Festival of the Senses presents Music for the Holidays on December 10 at St. Luke’s

sheet music with holiday ornaments, ribbons and evergreen branchesOn Tuesday, December 10, at 7:00 p.m., Festival of the Senses will present a holiday concert of music by Sant-Saens, Brahms, Yon, and traditional carols played by May Tsao-Lim at the piano, Andrew Irvin on violin, and David Renfro on French horn.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, is the third in the 2019-20 season of the performing arts series sponsored by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4106 JFK Boulevard. A reception with holiday treats will be held in the church’s parish hall following the performance.

The program will be as follows:

  • Caprice in the Form of a Waltz, Opus 52, No. 6, for Violin & Piano by Camille Sant-Saens;
  • Trio for Horn, Violin & Piano, Opus 40, by Johannes Brahms;
  • Gesu Bambino, by Pietro Yon;
  • A selection of traditional carols to be sung by the audience.

Festival of the Senses is a performing arts series created in 2011 by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as a gift of the arts to the community to entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

May Tsao-Lim, who played in the Eric Hayward memorial concert for Festival of the Senses in September, teaches applied piano and piano pedagogy at Henderson State University, where she is Assistant Chair of the music department and Director of International Music Festivals. She has also taught at Iowa State University and Malaysia’s University College Sedaya International

ASO concertmaster Andrew Irvin is well known to Festival audiences as a member of the duo ARmusica. He also plays in the Camino Trio and recently was heard as substitute concertmaster with the Omaha Symphony. He has concertized across America and throughout Europe on his 1765 Gagliano violin, and his recordings are available on the Potenza and Naxos labels.

Since 2005, David Renfro has been the ASO’s principal horn player and also serves as the orchestra’s chief development officer. He is a member of Etesian Winds, a woodwind quintet, and the ASO Brass Quintet, and has taught at Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University. He was previously the principal horn in the Texarkana and Missouri Symphony Orchestras.

ARmusica to play ‘Devilish Delights’ for Festival of the Senses on October 29

Image result for irvin cheek little rockThe instrumental duo ARmusica—pianist Julie Cheek and violinist Andrew Irvin—will perform a program of spooktacular music in celebration of All Hallows’ Eve at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4106 JFK Boulevard. The event is part of the church’s free Festival of the Senses performing arts series featuring outstanding Arkansas artists. The concert will be followed by a reception in the parish hall. All Festival of the Senses events are free and open to the public.
The program will include the “Devil’s Trill Sonata” by Italian Baroque composer and music theorist Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), who claimed he was inspired by a dream in which the devil appeared at the foot of his bed playing the violin. The piece, a solo violin sonata in G Minor (1713)—also known as “Tartini’s Dream”—is his most famous work and is noted for its difficulty of execution.
“The Devil’s Dance,” the theme from film composer John Williams’s score for “The Witches of Eastwick,” written in 1987, is one of the renowned composer’s lightest and most comedic works. It is also known as “The Dance of the Witches.”
Two pieces by French composer Camille Sant Saens (1835-1921) round out the program. “Danse Macabre” (1872-74) began as an art song for voice and piano and was later reworked with a solo violin part. ARmusica will also perform his “Caprice Brilliant” (Opus 52, No. 6) for violin and piano, an etude in the form of a waltz known as the Ysaye Caprice.
Little Rock native Julie Cheek is well known to Arkansas audiences as a versatile keyboard artist who made her debut at age 14 as a soloist with the Arkansas Symphony Chamber Orchestra and has been featured often with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and other ensembles across the U.S. She has taught at UALR, the University of Colorado, Interlochen, and Vienna’s Hochschule, and continues to teach privately. For many years has sailed around the globe as a favorite performer aboard several popular cruise lines. Her many media appearances include National Public Radio, BBC Radio, PBS, and A&E.
Violinist Andrew Irvin, ASO concertmaster, has played his1765 Gagliano violin in concerts throughout North America and Europe. He studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Eastman School of Music, and Arizona State University before moving to Arkansas. In 2012 he and Julie Cheek formed the duo ARmusica, which appears regularly for Festival of the Senses. He is also a member of the Irvin/Christopher Duo and the Camino Trio and has recorded on the Potenza and Naxos labels. Highlights of his chamber music career include performances with the Ying Quartet and the Audubon Quartet.

Concert in memory of longtime ASO violinist Eric Hayward presented tonight

Eric and Christopher Hayward

On Tuesday, September 17, in the first concert of Festival of the Senses’ 2019-20 performing arts season, a string ensemble will play Tchaikovsky’s celebrated Piano Trio in A Minor and a new piano quartet, “The Black Rose,” composed by Little Rock’s Dustin Yoder in memory of Eric Hayward of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO).

The free concert will be held at 7:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4106 JFK Boulevard in North Little Rock, and will feature ASO Concertmaster Kiril Laskarov on violin, Stephen Feldman on cello, May Tsao-Lim on piano, and Eric Hayward’s son, Christopher Hayward, on the viola. A reception will be held in the parish hall following the performance.

“Eric Hayward was our friend and colleague in the Arkansas Symphony and we miss him dearly,” says Kiril Laskarov. “Eric loved chamber music, so we thought the best way to honor his memory was to present this program. We combine one of the greatest chamber music pieces in the literature, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio, which was dedicated to another great musician, the pianist Nikolai Rubinstein, with the world premiere of a piano quartet entitled ‘The Black Rose,’ which was composed by Eric’s student Dustin Yoder and will feature Chris Hayward, Eric’s son, on the viola.”

Eric Hayward (1954-2018) was an associate concertmaster and principal second violinist with the ASO for 38 years and a founding member of Arkansas’ premier string quartet, the Quapaw String Quartet. Following his death in 2018, the ASO established a principal second violin chair in his memory. He held degrees from Oregon State and Northwestern Universities and studied at the University of Iowa, taught violin and viola privately and in a number of local schools, and played in various concerts at St. Luke’s since before the inception of Festival of the Senses.

Christopher Hayward began his musical education following in his father’s footsteps on violin but later changed to the viola. A 2006 graduate of Little Rock Central High School, he attended Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, and is now married and lives and works in Maumelle. He has played in the Arkansas Youth Orchestra, All-Region Orchestra, All-State Orchestra, and the Missouri All-Collegiate Orchestra.

Dustin Yoder, currently resident composer for WAMA, the music and arts camp of Little Rock’s Wildwood Park for the Arts, is a local musician and former student of Eric Hayward. He was a 2015 violin finalist for the High School Honors Performance Series Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He teaches private lessons locally, plays part-time in the ASO, has composed scores for a number of short films, and is a self-taught painter.


Piano Trio in A Minor, Opus 50 – Pezzo Elegiaco
  Dedicated to Nikolai Rubinstein (1835−1881)
by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840−1893)

Piano Quartet in C Minor, “The Black Rose”
  Dedicated to Eric Hayward (1954−2018)
by Dustin Yoder (b. 1996)

Piano Trio in A Minor, Opus 50 – A. Tema con Variazioni; B. Finale e Coda
by Tchaikovsky

Organist Rees Taylor Roberts in “Farewell” Concert tonight

Music director, organist & choirmaster Rees Roberts of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will play a farewell concert at the church, 4106 JFK Boulevard, at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 4.

The performance will be followed by a festive reception in the parish hall to wish him well as he leaves Arkansas to complete his university studies at Arizona State University in Tempe under the tutelage of eminent scholar-performer Dr. Kimberly Marshall. The concert is free and open to the public.

A native of Arkansas, Rees Roberts embarked on his keyboard career at age 12 studying piano with Craig Chotard of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, but soon became enthralled by the organ. After graduating from Little Rock Central High School, he continued his musical education at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, studying organ with Jonathan Moyer and harpsichord with Webb Wiggins. He also sang in Oberlin’s premier early music choir, Collegium Musicum, under director Steven Plank.

He has played in master classes with Wilma Jensen in Memphis, Marie-Louise Langlais in Paris, France, and Kimberly Marshall in Little Rock. During his two and a half years at St. Luke’s, he led an adult choir and oversaw a bell choir as well as an ambitious program of Sunday morning services, evensongs, hymn sings, recitals, and special programs and events.

The program for the concert will include the following works:

  • Fête, Opus 51 – Jean Langlais (1907−1991)
  • Chaconne in E Minor – Dieterich Buxtehude (1637–1707)
  • Ballo del Granduca – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621)
  • Chaconne in B Flat Major – Johann Bernhard Bach  (1676–1749)
  • Toccata Septima – Georg Muffat (1653–1704)
  • Variations on “Ora Labora” – Gerre Edward Hancock  (1934–2012) 
  • Prelude & Fugue in B Minor, BWV 544 – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685  1750)
  • Sicilienne, from Pelleas et Melisande – Gabriel Fauré (1845 –1924)
  • Symphonie No. 3, Opus 28, IV. Adagio – Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
  • Fugue in E Flat Major, “St. Anne,” BWV 552 – Johann Sebastian Bach

Pianist Julie Cheek presents a solo program tonight as part of St. Luke’s Festival of the Senses

Pianist Julie Cheek will play a solo program of works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy in addition to other favorites at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 4106 JFK Boulevard.

The concert, the eighth in Festival of the Senses’ 2018−19 season, is free and open to the public. The performance, which will introduce Julie’s 60/60 Project, will be followed by a reception for the audience to share refreshments and meet the artist.

With 25 years experience as a classical solo entertainer on the world’s most prestigious cruise lines, pianist Julie Cheek brings dazzling virtuosity and humor to delight your event. As the only entertainer to ever score a perfect 10 on the Crystal Cruise Line, Julie understands that audiences want an experience that invites them into the magic realm of classical music, where every emotion is possible.

Julie weaves a seamless narrative about the music with her own experiences on the stage with programs that blend popular favorites with her own personal ones. Thousands of audience members have left Julie’s performances feeling the charm of this very special entertainer.

ARmusica in concert at 7pm tonight

ArMusicaFestival of the Senses, the free performing arts series sponsored by Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church at 4106 JFK Boulevard, again presents the ARmusica duo of Julie Cheek on piano and Andrew Irvin Tuesday, April 2, at 7:00 p.m. in a program of “Spring Surprises”: music by composers Arvo Pärt and Ludwig von Beethoven, plus a selection of beloved musical themes from the movies by Ennio Morricone and John Williams.

Julie Cheek, a Little Rock native who made her professional debut at age 14 as a soloist with the Arkansas Chamber Orchestra, has performed and held master classes with orchestras across America and Europe and has traveled around the world as a popular entertainer on several cruise lines. She continues to teach at Interlochen and elsewhere and to concertize throughout the U.S.

Violinist Andrew Irvin, concertmaster of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), has played his 1765 Gagliano violin in concerts throughout North America and Europe. In addition to being a cofounder of ARmusica in 2012, he is a member of the Irvin/Christopher Duo and the Camino Trio and has recorded on the Potenza and Naxos labels.

This season marks the eighth year of Festival of the Senses, with nine events spotlighting some of the region’s most distinguished and dedicated musicians and artists. Designed as a gift of the arts to the community to entertain, enlighten, and inspire, all events are free and open to the public. The performance will be followed by a reception in the parish hall for attendees to meet and greet the performers.