Four concerts featuring some of the state’s most talented musicians have been scheduled for this summer at Oval Gallery, 201 W. Capitol Ave. The Arkansas Times will sponsor the program, which ranges widely from jazz to opera, and it begins June 18 with award-winning guitarists Steve Davison and Michael Carenbauer.
Davison’s Beechwood Acoustic Music, an organization dedicated to promoting live music in Little Rock, has lined up the schedule, which also features the jazzy Claudia Burson Trio on July 16, a cabaret performance by Sharon Douglas and a classical show by opera singer Kelly Ponder.
“There are so few venues for live musicians in Central Arkansas where the audience comes specifically to listen respectfully, and this atmosphere is very much appreciated by the musical community,” Davison said.
Oval will present the concerts in its West Room, with the performers and an audience limited to 75 people surrounded by the gallery’s current art exhibitions. Tickets for the four-concert season are $90; individual show tickets are $25. Tickets are available by calling the gallery at 244-0800.
Carla Koen, a co-owner of the gallery, said, “We wanted to provide a unique performance space for the incredible array of fine musical artists that we are so fortunate to have in Arkansas.” Oval’s co-owner Pepper Pepper added, “Celebrating the musical arts is a natural fit with our approach to the visual arts.”
Davison, who performs original works on six- and 12-string guitar, won the 2005 Arkansas Acoustic Music Festival Showdown at the University of Central in January. Davison is on this weekend’s Riverfest lineup.
Carenbauer, professor of music and director of guitar studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has performed in Italy, France, Austria, Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong. His original compositions and arrangements for the guitar and guitar synthesizer were featured at the Chitarra 98 Festival in Montreal.
Burson, who teaches at UA-Fayetteville, studied at Berklee School of Music in Boston and has performed around the country with such artists as Arnett Cobb and Don Wilkerson.
Douglas is a singer-pianist and creator of original one-woman cabaret shows that won a BackStage Bistro award for musical comedy in Manhattan. She has performed in such celebrated nightspots as Rainbow and Stars, Town Hall, the Algonquin Hotel, and Pizza in the Park in London.
The mezzo-soprano Ponder has performed on operatic and concert stages with such groups as the Dallas Opera, Opera Carolina, Knoxville Opera and Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts. She teaches voice and piano at Philander Smith College. She is scheduled to be accompanied by pianist Rachel Chung, a native of Korea, who has performed in solo recitals, chamber concerts and workshops in Korea, the United States and Europe. She also teaches at Philander Smith.