Sweeter sounds at UCA | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sweeter sounds at UCA

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Too bad UCA hit the front page today for some financial funny business. It was scheduled to be a big day for the campus, and it still was.

The National Symphony Orchestra announced a "residency" at UCA this coming March. This will mean six concerts and dozens of educational programs on campus and around the state. A nice thing. Full details on the jump.


Conway, AR,  The John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts has accepted the Arkansas Arts Council’s invitation to make Arkansas the site of the National Symphony Orchestra’s 2009 American Residency.  Between March 24 and 31, 2009, the members of the Orchestra will participate in approximately 150 education and performance activities throughout the state.

The announcement took place today in Conway, home of the University of Central Arkansas.  Participants included Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, and United States Representative Vic Snyder, UCA President Lu Hardin, Rollin Potter, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the university, as well as two representatives from the NSO and the Kennedy Center:  Associate Conductor Emil de Cou and Patricia O’Kelly, Managing Director of NSO Media Relations.

The impetus for the Arkansas Arts Council’s invitation came from University of Central Arkansas Dean of Fine Arts and Communications Rollin Potter. The two organizations will jointly take on the role of coordinating all Residency activities. The Residency is funded by the Kennedy Center through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, as it has been since 1994.  Since 2006, the chamber music and outreach performances have been supported by the Kennedy Center Abe Fortas Memorial Fund for chamber music and by a major gift to the fund from the late Carolyn E. Agger, widow of Abe Fortas.

There will be a total of six orchestral concerts in the state, including an NSO Young People’s Concert in Helena.  Dozens of educational and outreach activities and other events are being planned.          

The repertoire for Arkansas’s evening concerts will include the Overture to Wagner’s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Hungarian composer Leó Weiner’s Serenade, Three Dance Episodes from Bernstein’s On the Town, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.  Principal Conductor Iván Fischer will conduct. 

“This will be my first American Residency,” stated Iván Fischer.  “When I first heard of this great, unique initiative of the National Symphony Orchestra, I thought it was a brilliant idea. I am very happy to participate.”

The Youth Concert in Helena will be led by Associate Conductor Emil de Cou.  He has selected a program that showcases the many ways composers from different nations in different eras have used the forces of a large orchestra.  The concert will include repertoire by John Williams, Holst, Beethoven, Debussy, and Britten.

“On behalf of the National Symphony Orchestra, it gives us great pleasure to accept the Arkansas Arts Council’s invitation to make the state our home for the 2009 American Residency,” said Associate Conductor Emil de Cou.  “The American Residency is one of the signature projects of the National Symphony Orchestra and our musicians are incredibly committed and generous with their time and talents.”


“We are particularly pleased with the way the National Symphony Orchestra will interact with our teachers, students and artists while in Arkansas,” added Dean Potter.  “The Orchestra will invite up to six students to Washington to participate in their Summer Music Institute next June, and will award a Teacher Fellowship to one Arkansas teacher, custom designed to further that teacher’s career goals.  Finally, the NSO will commission a chamber work from an Arkansas composer.  This intensive involvement will only add to Arkansas’s national reputation as a leader in arts education programming.”


            Dean Potter continued, “The University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and the Arkansas Arts Council have worked jointly to bring the National Symphony Orchestra to Arkansas.  We look forward to working with our colleagues in Jonesboro, Little Rock, Helena-West Helena, and Fayetteville as we prepare for the March Residency and the many musical activities involved.”


What Is an American Residency?


                In 1992, the National Symphony Orchestra of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts began a project unique throughout the world: The American Residencies.  On behalf of the Orchestra, the nation's center for the performing arts accepts one invitation each year, making a state or a region the focus of a host of activities.


            The goals of the project are:

·         to share all elements of classical instrumental music throughout a given region;

·         to explore the diversity of musical influences within the state,

·         and to give the region a musical voice in the nation's center for the performing arts through training programs, career development opportunities, and commissions.


            Because of the generous support of many organizations—principally the Kennedy Center and the United States Department of Education—all proceeds from any ticket sales resulting from these events remain within the state to support local arts organizations.


            Since its inception in 1992, a hallmark of the project has been its responsiveness to the artistic and educational wishes of each state.  Each state prepares a list of requests, ranging from in-school appearances to workshops for teachers to full orchestral concerts, and prioritizes them for the National Symphony Orchestra, with the Orchestra then fulfilling as many of those requests as logistics, scheduling and budgetary limitations allow. 


            In-state activities typical of past Residencies include:

·         full orchestral concerts,

·         chamber music performances,

·         in-school ensembles,

·         lectures,

·         workshops for teachers,

·         workshops for students with disabilities,

·         pre-concert discussions,

·         concerts for students,

·         coaching sessions,

·         master classes,

·         music appreciation classes,

·         Suzuki method workshops, and

·         artistic exchanges.  (Past artistic exchanges have included meetings between an NSO

violinist and an Athabascan fiddler and a school program shared by a string quartet and two Eagle River High School Salish-Kootenai drummers and dancers.) 

In addition, organizations are welcome to submit new ideas for activities.  For example: composition teachers in Maine and Kansas requested an NSO ensemble to perform his students' compositions, critiquing them from the point of view of professional instrumentalists, explaining what worked and didn't work in terms of instrumental writing.

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