Arkansas Symphony Orchestra to celebrate 58 years with a new state-of-the-art music center


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Little Rock, Arkansas – The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra recently initiated construction of the Stella Boyle Smith Music Center, a landmark $11.75 million establishment situated in Little Rock’s East Village.

This center, unparalleled in its focus on music within the state, spans 20,000 square feet and is poised to be an emblem of modernity. Its opening is projected for September 2024, marking the Symphony’s first permanent establishment since its inception 58 years ago.

This center is envisioned to be a nexus for music, encompassing educational avenues, performances, and music creation for the state’s populace. Integral to its offerings is a state-of-the-art broadcast and recording studio.

Brigita Gardner, chair of the ASO’s Crescendo Committee, remarked, “Our new music center represents a defining moment for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and for the state. Countless individuals in the community have dedicated their time, effort and passion to raise funds and meticulously plan for how this center can be accessible to all and a source of joy. We embrace the promise of this landmark home as it enriches the arts in our community and serves Arkansans for many generations to come.”

The facility will encompass cutting-edge amenities catering to both young and mature participants of the E. Lee Ronnel Music Academy. The establishment is structured to foster music-centric spaces like classrooms and practice areas, which promise an environment conducive for musical development. Notably, the center will house Morgan Hall—dedicated to long-standing ASO benefactors Susie and Charles Morgan—providing a multipurpose area for rehearsals and concerts, enhancing the immersive musical ambiance.

ASO Music Director Geoff Robson stated, “Live music serves as a unifying force that connects us all, transcending all walks of life. Arkansas boasts a heritage enriched by musical luminaries such as Florence Price, Johnny Cash, William Grant Still, the Ozark Folk Tradition, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and numerous others. As we commence this new chapter, our aspiration is that this center will invigorate appreciation for diverse musical genres, emerge as a pivotal hub for aspiring musicians, and mold future generations of music connoisseurs. We are poised to herald this transformative phase.”

With just $500,000 remaining to meet their fundraising target for the Stella Boyle Smith Music Center, the ASO is actively seeking contributions. Christina Littlejohn, the CEO of ASO, commented on the center’s potential impact, “We are eager to collaborate with key community entities including the Saint Mark Baptist Church, William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, Lyon College, Central Arkansas Library System, and the City of Little Rock, aiming to fortify their core objectives. Music, an unparalleled force of unity, is pivotal in constructing both intimate and expansive communities. Given the rising sentiments of solitude, the Stella Boyle Smith Music Center is envisioned as a sanctuary of collective exuberance.”

This year, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is set to celebrate its 58th season.


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