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Lark ascending: Violinist to solo in ‘Sky’ concerto; Dvorak symphony on the program for Masterworks season finale

by Eric E. Harrison | May 12, 2022 at 1:32 a.m.
Violinist Tessa Lark plays the "Sky" concerto written for her by Michael Torke this weekend with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Matthew Kraemer. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Lauren Desberg)

Violinist Tessa Lark performs Michael Torke's "Sky (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra)" with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Matthew Kraemer, music director and principal conductor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, for the sixth and final concerts of the 2021-22 Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks season, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Robinson Center Performance Hall, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway, Little Rock.

The program also includes the "Symphony No. 9," titled "From the New World," by Antonin Dvorak and "Ozark Traveler" by Jeremy Crosmer, who as a teenager played in the orchestra's cello section.

Sponsor is the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Guild. Tickets $16-$72, $10 for students and active-duty military, free for K-12 students with a paying adult through the Entergy Kids' Ticket. Call (501) 666-1761, Extension 1, or visit


Lark, the 2021-22 Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction, will also be a guest on the orchestra's River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series concert, 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. She'll join violinists Charlotte Crosmer, Trisha McGovern Freeney and Meredith Maddox Hicks; violists Timothy MacDuff and Katherine Reynolds; and cellists David Gerstein and Jacob Wunsch to perform the "Octet" for strings in E-flat major, op.20, by Felix Mendelssohn.

Violinist Drew Irvin and pianist May Tsao-Lim will play the "Sonata" in g minor, Op. 1a, No. 3, by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-George. And Tsao-Lim will join Leanna Renfro, oboe; Kelly Johnson, clarinet; Susan Leon, bassoon; and David Renfro, horn, to play the "Quintet" in E-flat major for winds and piano, K.452, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Tickets are $26, $10 for students and active military.

Lark, winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition, is also an acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky; the bluegrass-inspired concerto, which Torke wrote for her, was at the center of her commercial recording debut, with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, which earned her a 2020 Grammy Award nomination.

She has since appeared with orchestras around the United States and Europe and will assume the role of artistic director of Musical Masterworks, a chamber music presenter in Old Lyme, Conn. She is co-host/creative director of NPR's "From The Top" radio showcase for young musicians. She performs on a G.P. Maggini violin, circa 1600, on loan from an anonymous donor through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.

  photo  Matthew Kraemer (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Patrons can meet Kraemer, associate conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 2009-14, via a free virtual brown-bag lunch, moderated conversation and question-and-answer session, noon today via Zoom. Visit

And the concert is being recorded with multiple high-definition cameras and high-quality audio so the orchestra can stream it to ticket buyers starting at 7:30 p.m. May 21.

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