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ASO's special evening: Opus 37 honors Florence Price, raises big bucks for music education

by Helaine Williams | November 21, 2021 at 2:42 a.m.
Susie and Charles Morgan with Tom and Molly Reilley at Opus XXXVII, the Symphony Grand Ball, honoring the life and music of Florence Price. The fundraiser for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's music education programs took place Nov. 13, 2021, at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock..(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette -- Helaine R. Williams)

The historic Capital Hotel became a packed house Nov. 13 ... packed with first-time as well as veteran guests of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Opus ball.

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Opus XXXVII, honoring the life and music of Florence Price, was as described -- "an evening of music, dining, dancing and an auction of one-of-a-kind items," designed to support the symphony's music education programs for children.

Event chairs Maureen and Rick Adkins were among those greeting incoming guests, who enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres and libations during cocktail hour. The night's program began with music by Price, performed by Nisheedah Golden. Anne Broadwater and Craig O'Neill, friends of the symphony, steered the program, which also included remarks by Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott; a live auction; a giveaway of LAGOS jewelry donated by Sissy's Log Cabin; and the presentation of the Karen and John Flake Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra Outstanding Member Scholarship Award to Ann Gao.

Dinner, served in different banquet rooms, featured braised short rib and pan-seared branzino. Afterward guests danced to the sounds of the ASO Big Band.

The evening was backdropped with further nods to, and additional music by, Price, a Little Rock native who in 1933 became the first Black female composer to have her work performed by a major national symphony orchestra.

By Tuesday, the symphony had raised $460,196 for music education, including the largest amount ever given to the Simmons Bank Education Challenge in support of music education programming for Arkansas -- $92,775.

-- Story and photos by Helaine R. Williams

 Gallery: Opus XXXVII


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