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story.lead_photo.caption Mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko, making her Metropolitan Opera debut in December, will give a “homecoming” recital Thursday at her alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra plans to thank Little Rock for the about-to-be-completed renovation of Robinson Center Music Hall and celebrate its 50th anniversary with a free concert, 7 p.m. Nov. 30 in the concert hall, West Markham Street and Broadway, Little Rock.

David Renfro, the Arkansas Symphony’s principal French horn and director of operations

"We were talking about our 50th anniversary and want to make sure we view it as service and gratitude to the city and the state, not just about celebrating and patting ourselves on the back; we wanted to thank the community for supporting us all these years," says ASO Executive Director Christina Littlejohn.

"Oftentimes a hall will open with a huge gala with a really high price ticket, and we thought, what a public statement if we really are about gratitude and service, by, instead of seeing how much money we could get, do a free concert and say 'Thank you.'"

The orchestra will perform orchestral showpieces to show off the hall's new acoustics -- the Carnival Overture by Antonin Dvorak and the Maurice Ravel orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. And the concert will feature the world premiere of a piece the orchestra commissioned from ASO Composer of the Year Stephanie Berg featuring the orchestra and 100 string players from the Arkansas Symphony Youth Ensembles. Philip Mann will conduct. Sponsors are the Stella Boyle Smith Trust and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Free tickets will be available, on a first-come, first-served basis, at 10 a.m. Nov. 1 on the music hall's front steps. There is a four-ticket-per-person limit. Any tickets remaining after Nov. 1 will be available at the orchestra's administrative offices in Byrne Hall, St. John Catholic Center, 2417 N. Tyler St., as of 10 a.m. Nov. 2. Call (501) 666-1761 or visit the website,

The orchestra's Nov. 19-20 Masterworks concerts will be the first official performances in the building, which after a two-year rehabilitation is set to open with a Nov. 10 ribbon cutting and the orchestra's Nov. 12 Opus Ball fundraiser.

Chamber concert

Pianist Elisso Bolkvadze will join the Arkansas Symphony's Rockefeller String Quartet -- Trisha McGovern Freeney and Katherine Williamson, violins; Katherine Reynolds, viola; and Aaron Ludwig, cello -- to play the Piano Quintet in f minor by Cesar Franck in the opening concert of the 2016-17 River Rhapsodies Chamber Series, 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall, Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock.

Bolkvadze, a UNESCO Artist for Peace and the Arkansas Symphony's 2016-17 Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction, will also play three Impromptus, D.899, by Franz Schubert and the Piano Sonata No. 2, op.14, by Sergei Prokofiev. Tickets are $23, $10 for students and active-duty military. Call (501) 666-1761, Extension 100, or visit

Orchestra honor

David Renfro, the Arkansas Symphony's principal French horn and director of operations, is one of nine musicians and administrators chosen for the League of American Orchestras' 10-month Emerging Leaders Program, through which he will receive mentoring from top leaders in the field, in-person and virtual seminars and network-building opportunities. The program culminates in a joint presentation at the League of American Orchestras' 2017 National Conference in Detroit.

Mezzo Mesko

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko, a Hot Springs native and an alumna of the University of Arkansas, and pianist Ann Rye will give a concert titled "Natural States: Songs on Nature and the Seasons," 6 p.m. Thursday in the Honors Student Lounge, Room 130, Gearhart Hall on the university's Fayetteville campus. The program will include spring songs by Hector Berlioz John Duke and Cecile Chaminade; autumn songs by David Ashley White, Claude Debussy and Francis Poulenc; winter songs by Maurice Ravel, Debussy and Arthur Honegger; and "flower" songs by Camille Saint-Saens, Ruperto Chapi and Pablo Luna. Mesko will recite translations of the poetry. Admission is free but seating is limited. A light reception will follow. Call (479) 575-2024 or visit

Mesko, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera's Rising Stars in a recent U.S. concert tour that included a stop in Fort Smith, will make her Met debut in December as Second Lady in Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Springdale circus

Contemporary circus acrobats, tight rope dancers and dance clowns from Australia and Switzerland will be accumulating in venues throughout Springdale for nearly two dozen ¡Circus Sites! performances, Monday-Oct. 30 at venues throughout Spring­dale. The project is a partnership between the Downtown Springdale Alliance and Potluck Arts. The main events lineup includes:

• A Simple Space: Gravity and Other Myths, seven-member Australian acrobatics ensemble, 7 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Oct. 9, Springdale Civic Center, 2323 S. Old Missouri Road, Springdale. $25.

• Circus Man/L'Homme Cirque, 7 p.m. Oct. 13-14, Oct. 20; 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 2 p.m. Oct. 16; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21; 2 and 5 p.m. Oct. 23, Luther George Park near the Razorback Greenway, 300 Park St., Springdale. $25. Swiss circus artist David Dimitri will pitch his own tent and perform a one-man show featuring acrobatics, music and dance, including a human cannon ball to a high-wire act.

A complete schedule is available at For tickets, visit

AMP Fest

The inaugural Walmart AMP Fest, 2-6 p.m. today at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, 5079 W. Northgate Road, Rogers, will feature free samples of craft beer from Fossil Cove, Apple Blossom, Core Brewing and other area and national breweries; music by DJ Mix Master Mike, Arkansauce, Mountain Sprout and Goose; and new tech -- virtual reality and video games. Tickets are $40, $95 for VIP, which includes a Fayettechill T-shirt, AMP Fest growler, access to VIP lounge and additional perks. Call (479) 443-5600 or visit

Style on 10/02/2016

Print Headline: Orchestra to give free show as thanks for 50 years in LR


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