Arts Scene

Sundays at Noon on KLRE & at 5:30 p.m. on KUAR
  • Hosted by Ann Nicholson
  • Local Host Daniel Breen

Arts Scene explores what's happening in the arts in Arkansas. Since 1985, Ann Nicholson has produced and hosted this weekly fine arts magazine.

Where there is an arts performance, art exhibit, or a literary artist with a new book, Nicholson is there. She maintains close connections with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, UALR Artspree and Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony in Eureka Springs.

"I want our listeners to gain a new experience from each program. I look for persons in the arts that I think will not only indulge my interests, but also those in the audience. I try to give them a little bit of extra personal background that they wouldn't get anywhere else," says Nicholson.

Born in India, the daughter of a British Army Officer, and educated in India, Kashmir, Scotland, and England, Nicholson immigrated to Canada in 1958 and then to the United States in 1962. She received a double BA degree in music education and music history from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Nicholson continued her graduate education in Musicology at the University of Kentucky. Ann was the recipient of the 2003 Aha! Cultural Spirit Award, in recognition of her years of work supporting the arts community in Arkansas.

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Arts Scene: Pianist Andrew von Oeyen

Apr 22, 2019

Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andrew von Oeyen has been hailed the world over for his elegant and insightful interpretations, balanced artistry and brilliant technique.

Von Oeyen, of German and Dutch origin, was born in the U.S. He began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he has also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher.

Arts Scene: Trombonist Michael Underwood

Apr 22, 2019
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Michael Underwood is in his 14th season as Principal Trombone of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and his 11th year teaching music at UA Little Rock. He's also an experienced arranger, and the director of the UA Little Rock Jazz Ensemble.

Underwood was featured in Songs from he Heart, the first Intimate Neighborhood Concert of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-2019 season, where he was the soloist in Viennese composer Johann Georg Albrechtsberger’s Trombone Concerto in B-flat Major.

Arts Scene: Artist Louise Mandumbwa

Apr 22, 2019

Louise Mandumbwa hails from Francistown in the sub-Saharan nation of Botswana, and the impact of her upbringing is apparent in her works of art. 

Mandumbwa creates stunning portraits, primarily of African subjects, with an emphasis on the stories told by the dynamic expressions of the human face.

Now a student at the University of Central Arkansas, Mandumbwa's works reflect her perspective being raised in a place she calls "paradise." 

You can see some of Mandumbwa's work at Hearne Fine Art located on Wright Avenue in Little Rock.

This week on Arts Scene, we focus on two shows at Arkansas Repertory Theatre; one, a staging of Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly, the other, a modern stage play: Native Gardens by playwright Karen Zacarias.

Arts Scene: Cellist Zuill Bailey

Apr 1, 2019

On this episode of Arts Scene, we catch up with an old friend. 

Cellist Zuill Bailey is known the world over for his passion and emphasis on musicality. He's a Grammy winner and a renowned recording artist with over 20 titles.

In this episode of Arts Scene, we hear two past interviews with Zuill about his experiences in various music festivals and in concert in Little Rock. 

On this episode of Arts Scene, we give you a bit of the ol' razzle-dazzle. 

Ron Hutchins, director and choreographer for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of "Chicago," is responsible for the dynamic dance and stage direction that brings the Roaring '20s to life. An experienced director and choreographer, Hutchins brings his experience to Arkansas Rep's first show of the season.

Ron spoke with Ann Nicholson about breaking into the world of theatre, and about his tutelage under late Arkansas Rep founder Cliff Baker. 

Jacob Slaton / Clinton School of Public Service

Arkansas Repertory Theatre Board Chair Ruth Shepherd will be the first to tell you that The Rep is back and better than ever. 

When the theatre was forced to suspend operations in April of 2018, theatre fans the world over mourned the loss of our beloved Arkansas Rep. 

Now, Ruth Shepherd tells Arts Scene's Ann Nicholson what's in store for the new season of The Rep, and how the local community rallied to save the theatre from going dark. 

Arts Scene: Collector Juan Rodriguez

Apr 1, 2019
Henry Ossawa Tanner

On Their Own Terms, an exhibit at the UA Little Rock Windgate Center of Art + Design, features black artists from the 1800s to the present day. And it’s the result of years of collaboration.

One collector making his pieces available for the exhibit is Juan Rodriguez, who worked his way up from cleaning art galleries to owning his own gallery in New York City.

Delita Martin's installation The Dinner Table.
Delita Martin

On Their Own Terms, a show of black artists from the mid-1800s to present, was on display at the UA Little Rock Windgate Center of Art + Design from Jan. 17 to March 10, 2019. 

Arts Scene: Composer Michael Fine

Apr 1, 2019

Michael Fine is renowned the world over for his compositions, inspired by his fierce love of nature. But he makes his living as one of the top producers of classical music recordings in the world.

A clarinetist himself, Fine was commissioned by Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Music Director Philip Mann to write a "rather unusual" Triple Concerto for Oboe section. Fine and Mann will debut the piece on May 4 and 5 at Robinson Center in Little Rock. 

Arts Scene's Ann Nicholson reached Fine at his home in The Netherlands, and spoke with him about the new work. 

Arts Scene: Brasil Guitar Duo

Apr 1, 2019

The Brasil Guitar Duo, João Luiz and Douglas Lora, have been making music together since their teenage years. Recently, they've begun composing their own works for guitar duo. 

Luiz and Lora were in concert on Feb. 14, 2019 at Christ Episcopal Church in Little Rock, where they played works by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Egberto Gismonti and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. 

Arts Scene's Ann Nicholson spoke with the two Brazilian guitarists when they stopped by the studio for a chat prior to their performance. 

Two musical groups are creating something very special: one choral, one orchestral. So, what is new? First, the Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School choir and the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra face an exciting challenge.

Arts Scene: Harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh

Nov 5, 2017

The harp is very much part of modern musical programming, and also a vital inspiration to contemporary composers. It has a voice appealing to much music, but there’s no doubt the image of the instrument, the stories and early music, take many of us back in time beyond our childhood to lands of myth and romance.

Arts Scene: Violinist Jennifer Frautschi

Nov 5, 2017

The performing arts this autumn are brimming with plans, led by the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High School Crisis. Time itself is being stretched, with all of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s season openers ahead. The first Masterworks symphony concert is with violinist Jennifer Frautschi. She will also open the River Rhapsodies season. First Masterworks, and a bit of background about the soloist.

Sept. 24 begins the commemoration ceremonies for the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High School Crisis. Celebrities are coming in, and bringing their own contributions. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., noted for his research on African-American history, is working with a composer creating an opera on the Little Rock Nine.

Molière’s plays, in his lifetime, were always rude and unkind, but his audiences always came back for more. His name, what he said, and how he said it have endured; particularly The Misanthrope, one who hates everyone and everything.

The highly acclaimed Arianna String Quartet opens the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock’s 2017-2018 season. As always, each year the capital city benefits from the high quality of programming the society has established, and the reputation its members have built through the years for their hospitality. The quartet members will work with students at Mills University Studies High School during their visit.

In a previous installment of Arts Scene, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director/Conductor Philip Mann waxed eloquent with information on the 2017-2018 Masterworks season. Now, he is rhapsodic over the chamber music series, River Rhapsodies. Musicians had more requests for Mann than in any season prior. Mann speaks with Arts Scene’s Ann Nicholson on his vision for the 2017-2018 River Rhapsodies season.

Arts Scene: Kelly And Donna Mulhollan

Nov 5, 2017

This installment of Arts Scene brings new voices and new music, with folk singers Kelly and Donna Mulhollan. The Buffalo River has become a symbol for Arkansas as the only free river in the state which has many rivers. It is also a National River, designated by the National Park Service. National parks nationwide are treasures for the Mulhollans, and we hear about their passion for the Buffalo. The Mulhollans tell their story to Arts Scene’s Ann Nicholson.

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-2018 season was announced in early spring, but so much of the weeks between then and now has been taken up by the highlights of the season: intimate neighborhood concerts, river rhapsodies, chamber music, and new composers to name a few. But now that July 4 is behind us, we can turn to the largesse to come. Arts Scene’s Ann Nicholson asks Philip Mann, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s music director/conductor to take us through the 2017-2018 Masterworks season.

Arts Scene: Author Cassie Dandridge Selleck

Nov 5, 2017

If All Arkansas Read the Same Book is a project that was picked up by the Arkansas State Library from a program in Seattle, where a book is chosen and the author is brought to the state, and as many people as possible read the book. The first book was To Dance with the White Dog by Terry Kay. There has been a book chosen every year since. Each author is brought to Arkansas to visit libraries and discuss the book of the season.

Artistic Director for Opera in the Ozarks, Tom Cockrell, arrived in Eureka Springs a good month ahead of the first performance on June 23. He is professor of music at the University of Arizona School of Music in Tucson, Ariz., where he is Music Director of the University of Arizona Opera Theatre. He comes well prepared to Arkansas, as do the singers, for the staging, coaching, and polishing to bring the greatest enjoyment for audience and performers. Cockrell spoke with Arts Scene’s Ann Nicholson in late April, covering aspects of the always carefully chosen repertoire.

Arts Scene: "Godspell" Director Donna Drake

Nov 5, 2017

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s 2016-2017 season closes with Godspell, a show that has kept its hold on the years since it opened in 1970. The show is directed by Donna Drake, who is already known in Little Rock as the director of My Fair Lady. Donna began at five years old, wanting to be a dancer. This led her, through various stages of growth and interest, to New York City, where she found how the magic of imagination could cross the footlights.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre has had a very interesting two years. After Bob Hupp served notice he was retiring as Rep’s artistic director in 2016, he completed the 2015-2016 season until the end of June, and moved to New York state. He left a carefully planned season for whomever was selected to succeed him, all of which followed in order, and John Miller-Stephany from the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis was chosen.

Philip Mann

Independence Day is already a week gone with Labor Day and election day hard on its heels, but today's guest is wrapping up 2016-2017 and hatching plans for 2017-2018. Of course, it is Philip Mann, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Director/Conductor, to take us through the Orchestra's 2016-2017 Masterworks Season. First, it's the ASO 5oth anniversary, then Robinson Auditorium opens its newly furbished welcoming doors in November.

Diane Rehm is retiring from her weekly two hour program at the end of the year. The news has dealt a body blow to the millions of listeners who count on her to be the voice of rational thought and quiet understanding of their many concerns. In her recently published memoir, "On My Own," she tells of her husband's death in 2014, from Parkinson's Disease to the years they had together since they had first met.

This past year, UALR has realized that a major change was ahead in the retirement of Chancellor Joel Anderson. He has been a quiet, but very important influence since he took the position thirteen and a half years ago. Ann Nicholson, host of Arts Scene, knew that public radio meant a lot to Anderson. So, when he agreed to come on Arts Scene as a guest, she was delighted.

Arts Scene: Tom Cockrell/Opera in the Ozarks

Jun 19, 2016

Listeners may remember that short list of festivals—five in all—listed three weeks ago, beginning in Hot Springs. Now, we’ve reached Eureka Springs and “Opera in the Ozarks,” a festival that Ann Nicholson, host of Arts Scene, feels should be heralded by “The Sound of Music.” The hills in Eureka are surely alive with music this year by Mozart, Puccini, Leoncavallo, and Benjamin Britten. Young singers with great voices in this Arkansas summer residency more than hold their own with such programs across the country.

The 2016 Wildwood Academy for Music and the Arts opens today. This is the 3rd annual program, divided into three categories of student: advanced, intermediate, and beginner in orchestral and vocal instruction. Daniel Black is Director for the orchestral sessions. He is from Fort Worth and is the Associate Conductor for the Ft. Worth Symphony. Dr. Bevan Keating is the overall Artistic Director and also Vocal Director of the Vocal Sessions (June 20th-July 22nd). He is a guest on this week's Arts Scene and talks about his current position with the Wildwood Academy for Music and the Arts.

April 23rd is accepted as the day of the month in 1616 when Shakespeare died, and also, by anecdotal confirmation, the day that he celebrated his birthday. So, this day, in the present year, is being remembered as the 400th anniversary of both of these events. Regardless of the date, the fact remains that the poet and his works are brilliantly alive. From his birthplace to Russia, the Orient, the Americas, and the Antipodes, he is not forgotten.