In a special collaboration, the Oxford American and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will debut a new arrangement of the No Tears Suite written by Grammy-nominated jazz bassist and composer Rufus Reid. The concerts will take place on Saturday, March 2, at 8 p.m. at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, then again on Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. at the Central High School Auditorium.
The suite is a special addition to the Oxford American’s 2018–19 Concert Series. Inspired by Melba Pattillo Beals’ memoir "Warriors Don’t Cry" about the 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis, the No Tears Suite honors the history of that time and the ongoing work of those working to build a more compassionate and just world.
“This project is an example of Little Rock's own Silk Road," said Christina Littlejohn, ASO's chief executive officer. "The historic Silk Roads were a network of trade routes across land and sea along which people of many different cultures, religions and languages met, exchanged ideas and influenced each other. Jazz and classical musicians working together in Little Rock's historical venues of the Mosaic Templars and Central High School to create music around our past and present could be a catalyst for a richer, more robust future.”
The 60-minute No Tears Suite was initially presented in September 2017, written by Little Rock jazz pianist Chris Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt. The duo created the work in honor of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. In this new version, Parker and Hurt will be joined by five jazz artists who played in the original 2017 ensemble, in addition to 15 members of the ASO.
“The Oxford American provides platforms for artists whose work illuminates a deeper understanding of the South’s complexity," said Ryan Harris, executive director of the Oxford American. "We’re honored to collaborate with the ASO in creating this music and these events because they foster continued conversations between communities as we all work toward a more cohesive society. This weekend will create a safe space for people to come together in mutual appreciation of each other and the role the arts can play in bridging our cultural divides.”
General admission tickets to the 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 performance at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center are $40 and go on sale to the general public on Jan. 10. Tickets may be purchased online, by calling the Box Office at (501) 666-1761, ext. 1, or at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center beginning 60 minutes before the performance.
For more about the performances, head to the ASO's website.