Tag Archives: W. Francis McBeth

Little Rock Arts Community Response on September 11, 2001

As all sectors did, the Little Rock arts and culture community responded to September 11.

Two of the groups in particular come to mind. When airspace was closed on September 11, several flights were grounded in Little Rock. The passengers on those planes became unexpected visitors to Little Rock.   Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey and Assistant City Manager Bruce Moore led efforts to make sure that everyone had a place to stay that evening.

The Arkansas Rep had opened its production of You Can’t Take It with You on Friday, September 7. The show was already scheduled to be dark on September 11, but on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, the performances resumed. That night the Rep offered these unexpected Little Rock guests free tickets to the performance.

Seeing a play which was both heartwarming, comic and full of Americana was the perfect balm for audiences who were weary, confused and nervous in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Most of the cast of that production was from New York City. Luckily, all of their friends and family back in New York were all safe.

Also on September 12, 2001, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presented a previously scheduled concert with Michael Bolton.  He had been traveling by bus so was able to get to Little Rock.  His concert was cathartic for the 2000 plus attendees at Robinson Center Music Hall. It offered not only a communal experience but also a welcome break from 24 hour coverage.

Three days later, on September 15, the ASO kicked off its MasterWorks series.  As has been tradition since the days of Francis McBeth as conductor, that first concert of the season began with the National Anthem.  The audience and musicians gathered and sang and played with unprecedented gusto that night.

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Little Rock Look Back: The City responds to September 11

The Little Rock arts and culture community responded to September 11 as all sectors did.

Two of the groups in particular come to mind. When airspace was closed on September 11, several flights were grounded in Little Rock. The passengers on those planes became unexpected visitors to Little Rock.   Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey and Assistant City Manager Bruce Moore led efforts to make sure that everyone had a place to stay that evening.

The Arkansas Rep had opened its production of You Can’t Take It with You on Friday, September 7. The show was already scheduled to be dark on September 11, but on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, the performances resumed. That night the Rep offered these unexpected Little Rock guests free tickets to the performance.  Seeing a play which was both heartwarming, comic and full of Americana was the perfect balm for audiences who were weary, confused and nervous in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Most of the cast of that production was from New York City. Luckily, all of their friends and family back in New York were all safe.

Also on September 12, 2001, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presented a previously scheduled concert with Michael Bolton.  He had been traveling by bus so was able to get to Little Rock.  His concert was cathartic for the 2000 plus attendees at Robinson Center Music Hall. It offered not only a communal experience but also a welcome break from 24 hour coverage.  Three days later, on September 15, the ASO kicked off its MasterWorks series.  As has been tradition since the days of Francis McBeth as conductor, that first concert of the season began with the National Anthem.  The audience and musicians gathered and sang and played with unprecedented gusto that night.

LR Wind Symphony Concert Tonight

LRWSThe Little Rock Wind Symphony presents a concert tonight.  Entitled “An Organ Extravaganza” it features guest artist Adam Savacool on pipe organ as well as the musicians of the LRWS.  Under the direction of music director Dr. Karen Fannin the program includes:

Sigfried Karg-Elert: Praise the Lord with Drums and Cymbals
David Maslanka: Traveler
Haydn Wood: Mannin Veen
Eugene Gigout: Grand Choeur Dialogue
W. Francis McBeth: Canticle for Eleven Winds and Perucssion
J. S. Bach: Fugue in G minor, BWV 578
Camille Saint-Saëns: Finale from Symphony No. 3 in C minor, op. 78, “Organ Symphony”

Mr. Savacool’s appearance is underwritten by The Steve Dunnagan Family and Bob and Susan Morrow.

The concert is at 7:30pm at Second Presbyterian Church.  Tickets are available at the door.

The Wind Symphony performs concerts each fall, winter, and spring in addition to its vastly popular Christmas Concert in December. All concerts are held at Second Presbyterian Church. Another annual seasonal highlight is the “Stars and Stripes Celebration” in honor of Flag Day, held  outdoors in June in MacArthur Park.

The Wind Symphony has performed in cities throughout Arkansas. Out of town concerts are usually sponsored by arts and education groups. The LRWS is a participant of the Arkansas Arts Council’s Arts On Tour program.

The Wind Symphony is supported financially by donations received from concert attendees and from individuals’ and corporations’ concert sponsorships. The musicians donate their time, effort, and talent as a gift to the city and to the audiences who hear them play.

Little Rock Responds to September 11

The Little Rock arts and culture community responded to September 11 as all sectors did.

Two of the groups in particular come to mind. When airspace was closed on September 11, several flights were grounded in Little Rock. The passengers on those planes became unexpected visitors to Little Rock.   The Arkansas Rep had opened its production of You Can’t Take It with You on Friday, September 7. The show was already scheduled tonbe dark on September 11, but on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, the performances resumed. That night the Rep offered these unexpected Little Rock guests free tickets to the performance.  Seeing a play which was both heartwarming, comic and full of Americana was the perfect balm for audiences who were weary, confused and nervous in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Also on September 12, 2001, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presented a previously scheduled concert with Michael Bolton.  He had been traveling by bus so was able to get to Little Rock.  His concert was cathartic for the 2000 plus attendees at Robinson Center Music Hall. It offered not only a communal experience but also a welcome break from 24 hour coverage.  Three days later, on September 15, the ASO kicked off its MasterWorks series.  As has been tradition since the days of Francis McBeth as conductor, that first concert of the season began with the National Anthem.  The audience and musicians gathered and sang and played with unprecedented gusto that night.

In Memorium: W. Francis McBeth

Former Arkansas Symphony Orchestra conductor W. Francis McBeth died late last week.  A longtime member of the music faculty at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, his impact on instrumental music was felt throughout the state, nation and world. 

When the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra was launched in 1966, it used guest conductors for the first several years.  As one of Arkansas’ preeminent band and orchestra conductors and composers, McBeth was asked to guest conduct from time to time.  In 1971, he was named Conductor of the ASO and served in that capacity until 1973.  During his tenure, the Symphony hired its first full-time professional musicians.  He also started the tradition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” being played at the top of the first concert of the season.  At the time of his retirement from the ASO, he was designated with the title of Conductor Emeritus. 

In 1975, McBeth was designated Composer Laureate of the Arkansas by Governor David Pryor.  Arkansas was the first state to designate any individual a Composer Laureate.

McBeth retired from teaching at Ouachita in 1996 but continued to compose and conduct throughout the country until recent health developments curbed those activities.