MORE THAN JUST HOT AIR

The Little Rock Winds — a performing ensemble featuring woodwind, brass and percussion instruments — will host its 25th anniversary concert on April 25, highlighting wind band favorites from the past 25 years. We caught up with Little Rock Winds conductor Israel “Izzy” Getzov to reflect on the ensemble’s rich history and future promise.

What do the Little Rock Winds bring to the central Arkansas arts scene?

Along with jazz and musical theater, the wind band is one of the most American of art forms. Wind band music is in Arkansas’ blood; we have such a strong tradition in our public schools and universities, and so many people’s lives have been touched by their experiences as performers as well as listeners.

The music the Little Rock Winds plays ranges from the most popular to the most expressive to the most entertaining. Arkansas needs more opportunities for people to connect with great art without the stuffiness or formalities that come with the traditional classical concert experiences. Little Rock Winds serves as the flagship, the standard bearer of wind band music in Arkansas, and we see it as our mission to not just perpetuate the art form, but to grow it so it flourishes for the next generation.

As you reflect on the symphony’s history, what moment or achievement are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the quality of musicians that perform with the Little Rock Winds. There is very little musician turnover from year to year, which means that when we do have an opening, it’s very competitive to win a spot. We grew from a typical volunteer organization where members would come and go, to one where membership in the band is coveted. Each fall we audition for substitute players for all sections and will have a dozen or more talented, well-qualified candidates.

Israel Getzov, conductor of Little Rock Winds

What do you wish more people knew about the Little Rock Winds?

I wish more people knew how much fun it can be to listen to live music in a casual concert setting. At the Little Rock Winds, we like to keep things informal so there is no barrier between the music and the audience. Brent Walker, our concert announcer, does a fabulous job of keeping the audience entertained by sharing tidbits about the music between each selection.

I also wish more people could see the look on the faces of our audience, especially the young high school band members who are hearing this music performed live at a professional level for the first time in their lives. It’s a real joy to share in their enthusiasm for what we are doing.

What are you most looking forward to in the ensemble’s future?

I’m looking forward to seeing how the group continues to grow, both artistically and in our relationship to the community and our audience. We recently presented our first concert in the CHARTS Theater at UA-Pulaski Technical College and I truly hope we can find the financial resources to return in the future. It’s really a splendid concert hall that shows off our band’s best attributes.

Learn more about the Little Rock Winds and purchase tickets at LRWinds.org.

BALLET ARKANSAS SHAKES UP SUMMERTIME

Calling all dancers! Kicking off in June, movers of all ages will have the chance to enroll in a selection of specialized dance programs at Ballet Arkansas.

Ballet Arkansas’ national summer intensive program is the perfect blend of fun and fitness. Housed on campus at UA-Little Rock’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, the audition-required program exposes dancers ages 10-21 to a variety of styles over a two-week period, July 22 - Aug. 2. Classes run from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and are taught by the professional dancers and staff of Ballet Arkansas.

Running June 17-21, the junior intensive program is perfect for dancers ages 8-10 and does not require an audition. Housed at Ballet Arkansas’ 520 Main Street studio, the program is a half-day option that gives young dancers a helping of jazz, ballet and much more.

For the tiny dancers, enroll your little prince or princess in Story Time Dance Camp June 24-28. Each day features a popular story theme and teaches the fundamentals of dance to kiddos ages 5-8. This is perfect camp for those new to dance.

Learn about these and the many other camps offered — including adult dance camp, sensory-adapted classes for those with autism and classes designed to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease — at BalletArkansas.org.

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