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Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts announces inaugural concert series

by Eric E. Harrison | May 30, 2023 at 7:29 a.m.
The Dove of Peace figures prominently in the second act of "Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet” (formerly “The Great Russian Nutcracker”), coming Dec. 31 to Little Rocks Robinson Center Performance Hall. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Memphis-born singer Don Bryant and Memphis R&B-soul-funk band The Bo-Keys kick off the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts' inaugural concert series, 7 p.m. Sept. 14 in the Performing Arts Theater at the museum, 501 E. Ninth St., Little Rock.

Performers in the series span multiple musical genres, from jazz, soul and R&B to indie folk and Americana. The rest of the lineup (all concerts at 7 p.m.):

◼️ Oct. 12: Mexican-born jazz singer-songwriter, producer and educator Magos Herrera

◼️ Nov. 9: American folk and country music duo The Secret Sisters (Laura and Lydia Rogers)

◼️ Dec. 7: Singer-songwriter John Fullbright

◼️ Feb. 1: Jazz ensemble Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band

◼️ March 7: New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian funk ensemble The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr.

◼️ March 28: Nashville, Tenn.-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War

◼️ April 25: Indie folk duo The Brother Brothers (Adam and David Moss).

Season tickets are $349, $309 for museum members; visit Individual concert tickets will be available later.

'Guitar Wars'

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership and Central Arkansas Library System will hold the inaugural "Little Rock Guitar Wars," an amateur guitar competition, July 8 at Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock.

Amateur players at any skill level who are Arkansas residents (you must not make more than 20% of your annual income playing the guitar — no guitar teachers or professional musicians, please) and who are not related to an event judge or sponsor are eligible to participate. You must provide your own guitar. There are two brackets — Youth (up to 17; all competitors under age 18 must provide signed parental consent) and Adult. There is a $30 registration fee (but it includes a free T-shirt). Winners will receive cash prizes. Register at

Presenters are Delta Dental, Rocktown Music and Blue Chair Recording Studio. For more information, call Dave Dunavant, area guitar teacher and the mastermind behind the event, at (501) 291-1171 or email


Retitled 'Nutcracker'

"Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet" — the 31st annual North American touring production of what was formerly known as "The Great Russian Nutcracker" — will be onstage, 5 p.m. Dec. 31 at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway. Tickets are $34-$84, with a VIP package going for $124-$179. Call (501) 244-8800 or visit

Producer Talmi Entertainment, "in solidarity with the people of Ukraine," has renamed the show. Founder and producer Akiva Talmi explains that "We reject the aggression against the Ukrainian people, and we will continue to use the artistic expression of this production to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to serving communities and bridging cultural divides." Talmi Entertainment will also donate a portion of ticket proceeds to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine.

The production is the same, featuring dancers of primarily Eastern European and Asian origin, plus acrobats, larger-than-life puppets and a second act set in the Land of Peace and Harmony (instead of the Land of the Sweets). New this year: a flock of white doves and "a cadre of delicate marionettes crafted by Master Puppeteers in the World UNESCO Heritage city of Prague, Czech Republic," according to a news release.


NEA grants

The National Endowment for the Arts is extending two grants totaling $833,800 to Arkansas organizations as part of its fiscal year 2023 funding:

◼️ $821,300 to the Arkansas Arts Council, under the heading Partnerships (State & Regional), "to support arts programs, services, and activities associated with carrying out the agency's [NEA]-approved strategic plan.

◼️ $12,500 to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, flagged as Grants for Arts Projects, "to support an orchestral performance with related educational activities."

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