The One Where I Rocked Out at The Symphony

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) Beethoven and Bluejeans event proved to be not only enriching, but also extremely entertaining. The ASO event kicked off with a street party featuring the Episcopal School Steel Drum band, Diamond Bear beer and brats to anyone who had tickets to the show.

The pre-party was hopping, fun, and a great way to kick off the concert.

A few friends and I got the chance to go to the Sunday afternoon show, and when we walked in we knew something unusual was happening. Most of the attendants had on birthday crowns, of sorts, and it wasn’t until we gave the attendant our tickets and got our own crowns that we realized what they were…conductor Philip Mann had celebrated his birthday earlier in the week; and in true ASO style they invited everyone in the audience to celebrate along with him.

How did they accomplish this? By giving each audience member a paper crown with the silhouette of Mann’s famous hair. Curly, floppy and fabulous the entire auditorium sang Happy Birthday to him before the show began.

This is one reason why I absolutely love ASO; it feels like a family. You might be in the large Robinson Auditorium, but for those few hours you feel like you’re enjoying the concert with close friends: relaxed and listening together.

The concert program began with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3 and was followed by one of my favorite parts of the concert, guest artist Daniel Bernard Roumain or DBR. Roumain and the orchestra performed his Voodoo Violin Concerto No. 1. The piece included an improv movement, where Roumain played on his violin and then called each section of the orchestra to echo him. The talent of Roumain, the orchestra and Mann was clearly seen as they played in response to Roumain’s upbeat violin.

Finishing the concert was Bernstein’s Symphony Dances from the musical “West Side Story,” and then Beethoven’s Egmont, Op. 84 Overture.

The rocking violin solo, orchestra improv, and West Side Story tribute all culminated for a great Sunday afternoon for me and my friends and a great performance for the ASO.

I’ll never tire of going to the orchestra. If you have not been to the see the ASO or you have and are interested in supporting the local arts please visit ASO’s website to find out more information about this local treasure.

Until the next show. Cheers.

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