Bold, Brilliant, Boundless: Ballet Arkansas Takes the Stage

Emergence brings the depth and range of Ballet Arkansas to the forefront. Highlighted within the program is the regional hit “Under the Lights” by Chris Stuart, set to the music of Johnny Cash. Also featured is the timeless “Valse Fantaisie” by George Balanchine, a world premiere by 2017 Winter “Visions” winner Mariana Oliveira, and other critically acclaimed classical and contemporary repertoire that provides for a captivating evening of dance.

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Vocal Exchange

Walton Arts Center CEO Peter Lane recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong where he attended the Vocal Asia Festival. Now in its seventh year, the Vocal Asia Festival and its founder Clare Chen are the inspiration behind Walton Art Center’s annual acapella competition.

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Walton Arts Center initiatives look to enrich the Northwest Arkansas community by offering programs that engage students through performance. Foundational to Walton Arts Center is the Arts with Education Institute. Arts with Education Institute began prior to the 1992 opening of Walton Arts Center's doors and has been a driving direction for community impact. 

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Fayetteville High School Students Get A Close-Up Look at Edward Simon & Afinidad's Performance with Imani Winds

The Student Volunteer Corps is a high school job shadow program designed to give local students insight into the business of arts presenting. Twenty students from across Northwest Arkansas were selected to participate after submitting an application, referrals and an essay on their interest in the arts. From January to May, they will shadow Walton Arts Center staff and working theatre professionals at Trike Theatre, University of Arkansas and Theatre Squared. The final component of the program is to attend a 10x10 Series performance and write a one page review, in an effort to get them thinking critically about theatre. Three students came for Edward Simon and Anfinidad’s performance featuring Imani Winds.  


Written By Zhiwen Xu, 10th Grade, Fayetteville High School

Edward Simon & Afinidad with Imani Winds Critique

The Edward Simon & Afinidad with Imani Wind performed on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at the Walton Arts Center for one of the 10x10 Arts Series. The concert includes six movements exploring the cross-cultural between jazz and classic; furthermore, their music incorporates traditions from Europe, Africa, North and South America. I have enjoyed the whole concert; their music style is unique and impressive, with nine people playing in unison but with totally contrasting melody at the same time amazed me. Also, the atmospheres between the audiences were supportive, and everyone is here for the same purpose. The light crews had set the right tone for the concert with sometimes red and blue, or all blue, or all purple; where it had created a magical environment.

The host speaker introduced the upcoming group and talked about Jazz appreciate month (April). Then Afinidad—the jazz ensemble walked in with tidy black outfit to open the concert with their first piece, the light suddenly went dim, and only the backlight shone red and blue. This forward minded ensemble is co-lead by pianist Edward Simon and saxophonist David Binney; moreover, the quartet is completed by kindred- spirit rhythm section of bassist Matt Penman and drummer Obed Calvaire. As the instruments plucked in unison, Binney entered with a slow melody, and the mood became more dramatic as it progressed. The pace of the music became faster, and the texture became more intense when various music rhythms entered simultaneously. The piece is overall very upbeat, and every member seems to be very intrigued with the music.

The second work of the evening begun with the addition of the Imani Winds— they are one of the most successful chamber music ensembles in the U.S. Since 1997, the Grammy Award® nominated quintet has carved out a vital presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, and adventurous collaborations. It consists of Valerie Coleman—flute; Toyin Spellman-Diaz—oboe; Mark Dover—clarinet; Monica Ellis—bassoon; Jeff Scott—french horn. At the beginning of the second piece, the beautiful solo oboe melody had set a lighthearted tone to the piece. As the two ensembles performed together, difference taste of music clashed. I liked the oboe solo part, where its melody sounded enchanted.

On the contrast of melancholy, the third movement had several high-pitched ethereal sounds, suggesting another worldly character. I was impressed by the fast-paced lyric and high-pitched notes. The incredibly lyrical closing theme brought an element of glory to the entire concerto or another word majestic.

Throughout the concert, my favorites were Venezuela and Beauty of Space, which was the fourth and fifth piece. It was the most inspiring and moving passages of the entire concert. The Beauty of Space reminded me of the vast open land in the Midwest, where breezes of wind blowing the grasses which created a peaceful, beautiful, joyful, and cheerful feeling overall.

There’s a plenty parts that will amaze you, where the ensemble did a fantastic job on blending classic and jazz into one concert. It will be fascinating if they could incorporate a drum solo into the concert. As this group marching on to the globe stage, I am excited and looking forward to more excellent music they will produce in the future.


Written By Elaine Sello, 10th Grade, Fayetteville High School

On March 18, the Walton Arts Center housed the Edward Simon show featuring Afinidad and Imani Winds. Afinidad, a group consisting of 4 members which are pianist/composer Edward Simon, saxophonist David Binney, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, was joined by Imani Winds; consisting of flutist Valerie Coleman, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinettist Mark Dover, French hornist Jeff Scott and bassoonist Monica Ellis. Most of the show’s music reflects the composer's memories and emotion towards those memories. The Edward Simon show is definitely a show worth watching with only a few minor problems that can easily be overlooked.

The music itself didn't clearly convey the composer's purpose but it was interesting to listen to because of the various instruments used. Before each piece Edward Simon, the composer, introduced the song and gave the audience a brief summary of what it meant to him. This gesture was helpful in giving the music meaning and making each song unique in sound.

The sound of the music was alluring because of the various crescendos, decrescendos and trills. Each instrument almost perfectly harmonized with the other yet most times, the saxophone overpowered other instrument. This could be overlooked but at certain times, the instruments lacked harmony. But each time you felt the sound was too much, they also got better. The variety of instruments also effectively helped portray the composer's purpose when writing the music although this was only true when he told you the intent behind the work. The individual players also helped to set a mood of good feeling as they clearly facially expressed their approval to each instrument's part. Not only did they appear to enjoy themselves, they also played their instruments clearly, with no squeaks.

The Edward Simon show was an interesting jazz ensemble that beautifully expressed nostalgia and other emotions yet was at some points not enjoyable. The show left some feeling bored yet for those who took the time to truly listen, it was an enjoyable show.


Written by Olivia Smith, 10th Grade, Fayetteville High School

Edward Simon & Afinidad with Imani Winds Review

Edward Simon, a ‘world-renowned’ pianist alongside his jazz quartet, Afinidad, performed with Imani Winds, a wind quintet from New York City to produce multicultural, modern and sometimes even dramatic jazz music. The performance often incorporated various different genres of music (including latin) to contribute to the cross-cultural effect of the show. The performance in general provided a gratifying, memorable experience.

Edward Simon’s commentary, (or sometimes introduction) gave the audience background on what the songs meant to him or why they were written. It gave the audience some background on each piece and what it was meant for. Even though Simon was essentially telling the audience how to interpret each piece, the the audience was still able to take whatever they wanted from the song.

Although Simon’s commentary and reasoning for his music was interesting to listen to, it may have made the music more interesting if the audience was forced to draw their own conclusions completely instead of having a base for their conclusions. This would make the audience’s imagination take over instead of already knowing what to think.

The blending of different of cultures were important components of the performance. Edward Simon noted throughout the show the influence of Venezuela in his work, as well as told stories of his adventures while on tour. Traveling and experiences made the performance what it was and it definitely was a significant factor.

Edward Simon & Afinidad and Imani Winds made seamless transitions into each new \song. Each song (along with the combination of the changing of lighting), added to the ‘theatre’ effect of the performance. The music truly did tell a story — each music piece also had a creative title to go along with it. Different musical effects (such as crescendo, decrescendo, trill and slurring) contributed to the uniqueness and artistry. The music often had a more dramatic, theatrical effect and sometimes exchanged that for a modern jazz approach.

All the musicians performing seemed to be passionate about their craft (or jazz in general) which contributed to the quality of the music. The pieces had an even balance of high tempo, mid tempo and slow tempo.

Not only was the overall performance entertaining, but the chemistry between the performers enhanced the experience of the show. All the performers looked comfortable with each other on stage, often making eye contact, smiling, and giving encouraging looks to one another on stage. It was obvious that musicians were all more than familiar with each other, which created a warm atmosphere.

The transition from certain instruments having solos to all the instruments playing together was a perfect shift. The combination of wind and string instruments were an interesting mix.

Overall, the performance was definitely the kind that one would want to see live. It would not be as nearly entertaining if it was viewed on a screen or recorded in any way. The way the sound filled the room was a component that would be better enjoyed live.

If given the opportunity, I would definitely go see another performance with Edward Simon & Afinidad with Imani Winds. The two bands definitely make great music together.

Third Coast Percussion Performed at WAC This February - here's What 5 High School Students Had to Say about It

The Student Volunteer Corps is a high school job shadow program designed to give local students insight into the business of arts presenting. Twenty students from across Northwest Arkansas were selected to participate after submitting an application, referrals and an essay on their interest in the arts. From January to May, they will shadow Walton Arts Center staff and working theatre professionals at Trike Theatre, University of Arkansas and Theatre Squared. The final component of the program is to attend a 10x10 Series performance and write a one page review, in an effort to get them thinking critically about theatre. Our next five students came for Third Coast Percussion’s performance of ‘Lyrical Geometry’.

Written By: Jeremia Lo, 10th Grade, Fayetteville High School

Third Coast Percussion: Lyrical Geometry

The 10x10 series brings a variety of diverse and innovative performances to Walton Arts Center, and none better illustrates this than Third Coast Percussion. The Chicago based ensemble was formed in 2005, and has since forged a path in the diverse arts of percussion and contemporary classical music. As a Grammy Award® winning quartet, they have developed an international reputation for their unique and dynamic performances, as well as an amazing ability to connect to the audience.

Lyrical Geometry exhibits both the energy of percussion and its elegance by showcasing an assortment of different objects and instruments, from tables to bells; truly illustrating how everyday objects have the potential to create music. The program features new work from TCP’s Grammy Award® winning album, collaboration pieces with acclaimed composers Augusta Read Thomas and Glenn Kotche, and original music by TCP members.

TCP got off to a lively start with the performances of Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet and Glenn Kotche’s Wild Sound, showing off classic keyboard instrument pieces with impressive energy; the audience could tell that the ensemble enjoyed what they were doing and in turn, shared the feeling with us. I appreciated how one of the members would introduce each piece’s background and their own thoughts on the work and if there was one, their connection with the collaborator. The ensemble also succeeded in covering the more unconventional forms of percussion through Augusta Read Thomas’ Resounding Earth and Thierry de May’s Table Music. The excerpt from Resounding Earth was elegant, hypnotic and executed with immense precision as needed to create the shimmering sound from Japanese prayer bowls and other sorts of metallic instruments. This type of music is not for everyone, I noticed increased shifting in a few audience members around me who grew restless at the slow pace and mystical tone of the work, but I enjoyed the fluidity of the piece and how each separate instrument came together to create a cohesive composition. In contrast, Table Music featured an original upbeat rhythm played on sound enhanced tables, and the coordination and skill required to effectuate such was nothing less than sensational. The incorporated humor in flipping the sheet music was also a nice touch. The program ended with one of my personal favorites, David Skidmore’s Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities. With Skidmore as one of the ensemble members, it is evident that not only does TCP consist of amazing performers, but of composers as well. The background video provided an interesting visual in correspondence to the music and introduced a new layer of interpretation.

At the end of the performance I felt like I had been missing out on an entire world of music, even though I had listened to percussion music before. TCP successfully introduced me to contemporary percussion and left me longing for more. The ensemble was mesmerizing to watch and listen to, and Lyrical Geometry consisted of a great selection of music, of which I would recommend to anyone.



Written By: Madison Smith, 11th Grade, Fayetteville High School
Also check out Madison’s blog:

The Grammy Award® winning percussion quartet, Third Coast Percussion, recently visited the Northwest Arkansas area to perform in the Walton Arts Centers 10x10 Arts Series. The 10x10 Arts Series is a season of 10 performances hosted by the Walton Arts Center with the intent to bring new and unique art forms to the Northwest Arkansas Community at the low cost of $10 a ticket.  Third Coast Percussion has been performing and expanding the depth of the world of percussion.

Who is Third Coast Percussion?

Each of the four quartet members are classically trained percussionists and composers. Based in Chicago, Third Coast Percussion is the ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Third Coast Percussion put on an outstanding performance that was full of new experiences that blew their audience away.


Throughout the week, the ensemble put on multiple master classes, and performances involving students of all ages and local musicians. Each of the members of Third Coast Percussion have been music educators at some point in their careers. This leads them be very passionate about their community outreach. They believe that "art is an invaluable experience for people of all ages."

The Program

The program they performed Friday night,  Lyrical Geometry , is a unique and energetic collaboration of both traditional percussion and unconditional instruments. During the performance, quartet member Robert Dillon commented on the diverse selection of instrumentation; asking "What is a percussion instrument?" The definition of a percussion instrument is "a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scrapped", but Third Coast Percussion believe that a percussion instrument is "anything you ask a percussionist to play and they say yes" or anything "that the other musicians won’t play." This seemed to be the general theme for this concert. The program included obscure instruments such as Japanese Temple Bowls and amplified table tops.

The Lyrical Geometry Program :

Wild Sound

Composed by Glenn Kotche, Wild Sound uses a combination of marimbas and vibraphones that create an almost "wild" sound with its very fast and systematic layering of rhythms. At some points the rhythms were complementary, and at others, it was almost overwhelming. However, none of this distracted from the enjoyment of the piece. I was impressed by the way that the musicians maintained their inner pulse and were able to pull off such a feat so that their listeners did not get lost or distracted. This piece was an introduction to the rest of the performance by establishing the traditional percussion techniques with new flourishes and flares to establish a new art form all together.

Table Music

Composed by Theirry De Mey, Table Music was by far the audience’s favorite piece in the program. After the show, everyone was wondering which of the Third Coast Percussion Albums had a recording of Table Music on it. Sadly, Third Coast Percussion has not yet released a recording of them playing this piece. I was blown away by the use of amplified tables in the Table Music piece performed by Peter Martin, Sean Connors and David Skidmore. As a tap dancer, I found the idea of making rhythms with your hands amazing. The music for this piece includes descriptions of the exact way to hit or touch the table to make a particular sound. This makes the piece resemble both music and choreographed dance at the same time.

Resounding Earth mvt. II Prayer

Composed by Augusta Read Thomas, Resounding Earth was composed for and dedicated to Third Coast Percussion. This is a very unique piece that requires the use of hundreds of metal instruments including singing bowls and bells from numerous different cultures. This piece celebrates the idea that music brings cultures together and the vast variety of musical instruments. The piece is made up of four movements: Invocation, Prayer, Mantra and Reverie. As Robert Dillon explained the entire work is about 30 minutes long. So for time's sake, Third Coast Percussion only performed the third movement, PrayerPrayer, is an even distribution of eeriness and beauty that seems to grow out of nothingness. Third Coast Percussion had me sitting on the edge of my seat afraid to move or disturb the perfect balance of silence and music.

Mallet Quartet

Composed by Steve Reich, Mallet Percussion, is another composition written for two marimbas and two vibraphones with multiple movements. Third Coast Percussion played all three of these movements: Fast, Slow, and Fast.  In the two Fast movements, the two marimbas provide the foundation cannon like background that continues throughout the piece while the two vibraphones take turns playing the solo-like melody. I admire Sean and Robert for their fluidity as they seamlessly passed around the melody without delay. During the Slow movement, the instrumentation thins out. I enjoyed how the ensemble did not pause between the three movements and they seemed to just flow into one fluid song despite the contrast between slow and fast movements.


Composed by ensemble member, Peter Martin, BEND, is composed for a percussion quartet using two marimbas. This piece uses various different mallets, bows, and sticking techniques to create a unique sound. The bows create a very different sound when they are run across the edge of the keys that sounds like the bending of music. The piece ebbs and flows in an unpredictable and pattern-less way. As soon as a common theme is established, it is abruptly changed with the introduction of a new sound, or a drastic change of dynamics.  This was a very entertaining piece that I was not expecting to hear. I especially enjoyed the use of the other end of the mallets.


Composed by ensemble member, Robert Dillon, Ordering-instincts, is a 10 minute piece including the only two drums in the program, wooden blocks, and a few metal "disks".  It was easy to get lost in all the new sounds you were hearing. But with the aid of a live video streaming to a screen above the stage, you could see the choreographed dance of the musicians. Their music provided a road map to guide them through the traffic of the piece. Creating perfectly organized sound, music.


Composed by Isaac Schankler, Blindness, is composed for 4 percussionists playing on one vibraphone accompanied by an electronic recording. At first I was a little skeptical about how 4 grown men could play the same instruments at the same time, but all of my doubts were put to rest the moment they began playing. In the past, my personal experiences playing with an electronic backing track have not been successful. But in this composition the electronic track did not take away from the ensembles performance, but added additional sound effects resembling sounds one would expect to hear if they were blind.

Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities

Composed by ensemble member, David Skidmore, Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities, was the perfect end to a phenomenal program. This piece incorporated visual art by projecting an animated design that was mesmerizing and moved with the music. This addition to the program emphasized how all art forms are connected in their abilities to express feelings and movement without out the use of traditional language. Art: music, design, dance and literature are all abstract forms of communication used to express what one does not have the courage to express on their own. I feel that this composition described the diversity of life and talents among people.

I am not a percussionist but as a musician, I am enamored by new art forms and Third Coast Percussion did not disappoint. Each piece introduced a new theme accompanied by a perfect blend of traditional instruments and new sounds. The program was a perfect arrangements of pieces that made a statement: the art world is changing. I had never seen or heard anything remotely familiar to what Third Coast Percussion played. Third Coast Percussion never ceased to impress me.

The Grammy

A Percussion Quartet is not the norm, but Third Coast Percussion despite skepticism from friends, they did it anyway and won a Grammy for it! In the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, the quartet won their first Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance on their album featuring works by Steve Reich, an iconic percussionist and composer. In their Performance at the Grammy Awards, they performed the third movement Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet with jazz saxophonist, Ravi Coltrane. This is a huge game changer for the world of percussion as it is the first time a percussion ensemble has won a Grammy in a Chamber Music category.

Third Coast Percussion is opening doors for future generations of percussionists. Percussion has come a long way since the 18th century and the invention of the drum. Percussionists are constantly looking for new things to play around with to create new sounds.  Third Coast Percussion is always pushing the boundaries of what percussion is. Modernist composer, Edgard Varèse, once said that music is "organized sound" when referring to his own musical style. I feel that this definition of music describes Third Coasts Percussion perfectly.



Written By: Joshua Deck, 9th Grade, Fayetteville High School

Third Coast Percussion Critique

The most recent installment of the Walton Arts Center’s acclaimed 10x10 Arts Series, Third Coast Percussion, toured to Northwest Arkansas for one night only, bringing too many instruments to count and an impressive repertoire along with them. The four Chicago natives, David Skidmore, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and Sean Connors display their wide range and their truth that “… a percussion instrument is anything that you ask a percussionist to play and they say yes.”

Founded out of a passion for fine music and a wish to change the way that we all think of modern music, the Grammy Award® winning ensemble takes an audience through an auditory experience like no other, an experience that hundreds of school children and a theater full of patrons were happy to join in on.

When we combine their overwhelming talent and creativity, you get a show that uses the most out of the box instruments, including a box, to create beautiful art and a technical masterpiece. The performance is outstandingly visual, with movements choreographed as well as any of the incredible Broadway shows that have graced the same stage. The show that was performed, Lyrical Geometry, features a mix of songs that are original, commissioned, or covers. They performed pieces from acclaimed percussionists Augusta Read Thomas and Steve Reich, which have been designed for a foursome, a rarity in the musical and percussion fields.

Although there are many modern techniques used in this performance, the four classically trained musicians, one a Yale graduate, clearly respect those that came before, and excited to put their own twist on it. Their modern style not only captures the minds of young children who are usually restless in their seats, but the minds of people used to traditional styles of percussion.

While watching four men play keyboards and bells for two hours can easily sound like an auditory experience, but there was never a dry eye in the audience. This show combined stellar music with extraordinary visuals and produced a concert like no other, great for all ages and anyone who likes music. The Lyrical Geometry concert series is definitely a show to see, hear and become surrounded in. Although it may be a while before the group returns to Northwest Arkansas, it is certainly worth your time to pursue them.



Written By: Morgan Heflin, 10th Grade, Fayetteville High School

On Friday, February 24th, an eager audience trickled into Walton Arts Center to attend Third Coast Percussion’s Lyrical Geometry. The show promised musical entertainment to people of all ages, from families with elementary-age children, to the well-seasoned Walton Arts Center attendee. Lyrical Geometry is meant to bring the great possibilities of percussion together, featuring Grammy-winning music written by Steve Reich, as well as respected artists like Augusta Read Thomas. Using a complementary combination of percussion instruments, including some seeming unconventional, few groups can rival the thought and creativity Third Coast Percussion put into their show.

While some may consider the performance a sort of unusual percussion, Third Coast Percussion integrated all their instruments beautifully, making the audience feel at home with new instruments and ideas. Many would name a drum when asked to name a percussion instrument, but much of the instrumental focus fell upon vibraphones and rin, Japanese prayer bowls. Drums, the familiar percussion instrument, were used, but in a raspy, haunting manner, created by dragging a rubber mallet across the surface of the drum.

An audience favorite by far was Table Music, which is exactly as it sounds – music made with a table. Mini “tables” with integrated microphones were placed on a life-sized table, and three band members used their hands to play the tables with the same fluidity they would an ordinary instrument. Different strokes, strikes, and motions elicited their own unique sound, and the band even managed to integrate turning the page on their sheet music in a way that fit into the music, but was humorous to the audience.

The show seemed to be engaging for a majority of the audience, although people were often seen shifting in their seat or exchanging glances when a piece seemed to be lingering in a slow spot or dragging on. To me, it seemed that Table Music was most thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, with the constant movement of the band, focused lighting, and unique instrument ideas. I remained engaged for the entire show, as the band was just as interesting to watch as they were to listen to. On top of this, the band members seemed like they were having a good time as well. You could often see them grin as they played a particularly difficult portion, step to the beat of what they were playing, or nod their head as another member played.

Though other artists had written a few of the songs played, it was evident that Third Coast Percussion had taken that music and made it their own. They didn’t just play the music; they were with the music, invested in each piece played. Their own, David Skidmore, had written the last piece performed, titled Aliens With Extraordinary Abilities. With this song came unique graphics that responded to every high and low in the music, and definitely seemed to fit the title of the song. This was probably my personal favorite piece, as the visual effects really added a lot to the music. On the other hand, other audience members may have found the graphics random, too flashy, or even exhaustive, as they were constantly moving and changing. I enjoyed the graphics for the reason that they were exhaustive, and really seemed to cover each little note with a flash of color or pattern.

Overall, I was impressed by Third Coast Percussion’s Lyrical Geometry, and completely enjoyed the show. Their music showed diversity, and I think anyone could enjoy it, regardless of age or music tastes.



Written By: Kamrin Thornton, 10th Grade, Fayetteville High School

Third Coast Percussion

Recently, I had the privilege to attend a performance by Third Coast Percussion, a music group that has won the ensemble regional and national recognition. Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore, the members of this group established in 2005, put together an astounding show called Lyrical Geometry. This group of musicians is most interesting because of the fact that they are a percussion quartet. A percussion quartet is not typical in the music world and that may very well be why the group was so impressive. I believe they formed the group not only to learn and grow in music as a group of four, but also to shed light onto the percussion world; they want to show that though percussion quartets are atypical, they have a world of magic to offer. Third Coast Percussion adds a nice, refreshing aspect to the music world.

Third Coast Percussion knew that the audience wouldn’t be all musical professionals, so they formulated a performance that had some good variety. They showcased keyboard percussion, table music, prayer bowls and various effects like violin bows, plastic wrapped sticks, and audio/visual playback. I personally loved the performance. I loved how enthusiastic every musician looked on stage; how they were absorbed in the music, never looking bored. I enjoyed the variety and the energy they brought to the auditorium. They did a good job showing that percussion is not always just keyboards and drums. There was a lack of drumming in the show, in fact, which was both a positive and a drawback. Being a percussionist myself, I can appreciate the effort they put into showing the other sides of percussion, the sides no one pays attention to when drums are in the way. However, some people who are not as much intrigued by music that is not “banging” and loud were a little caught off guard. Some were a bit disappointed, but others were just surprised. Still, even though some audience members’ expectations were different, the room was still swallowed in applause at the finish.

I also think that the music selection was a hit or miss. Again, I appreciated the intricate pieces, but some of the seemingly slower ones that require a trained ear and a certain taste, such as the prayer bowls, caused the crowd to get a little restless. After a few minutes of what seems like random bell sounds to someone who doesn’t know the music or how the song is supposed to go, one can begin to feel like maybe they just don’t understand percussion the way they’re supposed to. However, for those who were very interested in music, the song choice that Third Coast Percussion made gave us a taste of the versatility of percussion. The visuals they projected onto a screen almost hypnotized me, and in combination with the music they were playing, I was sent to another world. I believe that Third Coast Percussion achieved their aim to show that percussion quartets aren’t as crazy as they may seem. Additionally, they successfully demonstrated John Cage’s principle that all sound is music. It was still a quite refined performance, not just trying to make loud noises to get people to listen. The different effects and changes in the music definitely kept the crowd intrigued for the most part.

Even though the musical concept and literature was quite advanced for some of the audience who may have just been there to “see something cool”, overall, Third Coast Percussion’s performance was stellar. The passion that could be seen in each and every one of the performers made for a moving immersion into the world of percussion music. After getting to see Lyrical Geometry, there is something to be said about the world of percussion, and that is that the versatility of the instruments makes for an exciting journey through the world of sound and music.

Getting to Know Sierra Hull

We asked virtuoso mandolin-player Sierra Hull 10 questions to learn a little more about this genius musician.


1. Who or what inspired you to play the mandolin?

My dad is the reason why I picked up the mandolin. He was learning to play himself and after I became interested, he showed me my first tunes and chords and started taking me to local jams and festivals.

2. How has your sound evolved over time?

I grew up playing bluegrass and have such a deep love and respect for that style of music and the community. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been exploring a lot of other styles of music. As a result, I’ve been playing in a solo or duo setting more often, which is quite different than the band format I grew up playing around with bluegrass music.

3. What is your favorite aspect of writing music?

There is freedom in creating new music when you don’t put yourself in a box. It’s exciting to just follow your muse in a moment and see where a song leads.

4. What are some artists or bands you’re currently listening to?

I’ve recently been listening to everything from Beyoncé to classical mandolinist, Avi Avital. I truly love all styles of music. 

5. Pick 5 words—that start with the letter ‘S’—that best describe your work.

Smooth, Surprising, Sensitive, Somber, Spontaneous

6. What has been one of your most exciting performances to date?

Getting to play at the White House with my hero Alison Krauss was certainly a huge honor for me and something that I’ll never forget.

7. What are the defining characteristics of tonight’s performance; what story does it tell?

Tonight’s performance will feature mostly original pieces that I’ve written - many from the album Weighted Mind. The album is themed around coming into my early 20’s and trying to find my way, both musically and personally.

8. What do you hope the coming years will bring for your career?

I think every artist dreams of an all-around continued success. Success brings security and freedom to create the kind of music you’d want and helps establish trust between the artist and the listener. I want to be able to continue to tour and make albums and have people go on this journey with me.

9. What is the best advice that you have been given; and what advice would you give the young musicians in the audience?

The best advice I have been given is to just be myself. Sometimes there is a pressure to compare yourself to this person or that person, feeling the need to measure up somehow. But the truth is - you are enough. I am enough. As an artist, I’ve found comfort in that idea over the past couple of years.

10. What do you hope listeners take away from your music?

I hope the listeners hear honesty in my music. I try to be true to my heart and play the music that I love. I figure if I do what I love, people will feel that and connect with it.


Sierra Hull will be at WAC April 7, 2017, at 8pm. Tickets are $10. Don't miss out!


Student Vounteer Corps Gets a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Hervé Koubi

The Student Volunteer Corps is a high school job shadow program designed to give local students insight into the business of arts presenting. Twenty students from across Northwest Arkansas were selected to participate after submitting an application, referrals and an essay on their interest in the arts. From January to May, they will shadow Walton Arts Center staff and working theatre professionals at Trike Theatre, University of Arkansas and Theatre Squared. The final component of the program is to attend a 10x10 Series performance and write a one page review, in an effort to get them thinking critically about theatre. Our first two reviews are on Compagnie Herve Koubi, a French-Algerian dance troupe that features martial arts, capoeira and hip hop dance.



Written By: Kennedy Fuller, 12th Grade, Fayetteville High School

Big fan of shows from out of this country? Love stunts and break dancing? Want to watch a show but don’t have a lot money? Well then Walton Art Center’s 10x10 presentation of Compagnie Hervé Koubi by Hervé Koubi is just the show for you.

On Thursday, February 2nd, the Walton Arts Center performed their 2nd 10x10 show and Arkansas Debut What The Day Owes To The Night or Ce Que Le Jour Doit à La Nuit, choreographed by Hervé Koubi. The French-Algerian show has travelled around the America and internationally and has been praised for its raw and fluid way of showing history through dance. The show is inspired by Yasmina Khadra’s novel about a young man traveling from family to family during the Algerian war and seeing the man grow up and mature into being his own person.

Through traditional music, the dancers combine breaking dancing, martial arts and stunts to create a story. All the dancers share a story differently than their partner, but that what makes the show better - the dancer tells their story. Watching men being thrown in the air and falling from various heights makes you stare at the dancers with wonder and curiosity.

This show will open your eyes to different cultures and even self-discovery. You will find the story to be fascinating and interesting, the music being lively and the dancers being storytellers. I rate this show a 9.5/10 and I would love to see this company come back again and spread their cultural arts amongst this state.

Written By: Chloe Kilpatrick, 10th Grade, Haas Hall Academy

Alongside his Algerian dance group, Frenchman Hervé Koubi has been sharing his choreography titled What the Day Owes to the Night to illustrate his Algerian pride and heritage through a remarkable combination of traditional music and physical talent. La Compagnie and Hervé Koubi use their contrasting and awe-inspring talents to evoke emotions and thoughts in a way only few can accomplish.

Before the start of the show, the choreographer Hervé Koubi came out to tell the audience his story and the underlying emotions behind it. Koubi and his dancers took different paths in pursuing dance. He was trained in France to be choreographer, while he discovered his incredibly talented dance company street dancing in Algeria. As they worked together in arranging the performance, they created a unique blend of martial arts, hip-hop and traditional dance education that exceeds any audience member’s expectations.

The dance lasted 75 minutes with no intermission, with a mix of traditional Algerian music and chants from the dancers in the background. The immense physical talent and cultural depth is shocking, but for the performers, they are simply telling their story in a manner that makes sense to them.

In the performance, dancers embody an entire culture rather than specific people. Even having no knowledge about the Algerian War of Independence, the audience leaves with an intimate understanding of the struggle and emotions of the Algerian people. Each stroke of a hand represents a cry for help and each leap represents fleeing citizens. Even Koubi himself couldn’t have imagined the success he had in his endeavors to represent his heritage.

The music played throughout the work helped evoke emotion, as enormous physical stunts were completed in total silence and martial arts during opera. The dancers were perfectly balanced, as they created a paradox of separation and unification. Dancers split into two groups in contrasting movements, yet remained in a large group. It is as though they are trapped within the stage much as they were trapped in the government, yet they have free spirits to express themselves.

Koubi and his gifted company have accomplished a haunting experience that could not have been executed better. Their motives screamed out at the audience without saying a single word, leaving a deep respect and awareness for the Algerian people. This experience is a decisive technique in history education, providing the audience with empathy rather than facts and using immense talent to promote a shared intent.


10 Things To Know About Hervé Koubi

We asked dance aficionado Hervé Koubi 10 questions to get a deeper understanding of what it's like being a renowned dancer, choreographer and visionary.

1.    Can you tell us a little about your background and training as a dancer?

I started my dance studies in Cannes with Michele and Anne-Marie Sanguin, and with Nathalie Crimi. I pursued my development at the International dance school Rosella Hightower in Cannes, then with the Opéra de Marseille where I took a lot of classical ballet classes. In 1999, I joined the Centre Chorégraphique National de Nantes, in 2001 the Centre Chorégraphique National de Caen and in 2003 and 2008 Compagnie Thor in Brussels. Unlike my dancers I had a very regular background but the interest of the porject lies in the mixt between the technique of the dancers and my perception of dance and choreography.

2.    You have a Doctorate of Pharmacology/Clinical Biology. Do you think that your studies have affected or prepared you for your work as a choreographer; and, are there any similarities between the two fields?  

I studied then and become a doctor to please my parents, but I couldn’t stand to be in a pharmacy. The appeal of dance has always been too strong for me to resist. For me, there aren’t any apparent connections between pharmacy and dance. Though I did learn physiology and anatomy, which has helped me better understand movement and how the body works, and developed a love for researching. I have been fascinated by all the experiences, the research and the investigations that lead to discoveries… I love to experiment and investigate when I choreograph. For “what the day owes to the night,” I have been investigating my own history but also I have been interesting in all forms of other artistic expression of orientalism. All these elements are part of my research and help me to create my projects.

 3.    When did you first become interested in choreography?

When I began my career as a dancer, I worked for several national companies in France, but I always preferred to be the author. I like to converse with the audience, to share my thoughts—so I decided to use choreography as a medium to express myself.

 4.    Your work is a fusion of capoeira, martial arts, and urban and contemporary dance. Does this describe all of your choreography or just this specific piece?

I used to work with a variety of styles and dancers, but this project is different. With these 12 dancers, there is a choreographic alchemy I can’t explain. They respond exactly to what I expect and love in dance. They are all athletes, but I didn’t want their athletic skills to eclipse what is the more important for me in a choreographic proposal: the meaning.

I went to Algeria when I was 25 to make light in my dark (unknown) family history. I had to give life to my orientalist dreams; I had to do it with dance. I had to do it with dancers from Algeria using their specific skills. Most of the dancers I met had a very good level in dance, especially in hip-hop (break dance) and capoeira. The youth of Algeria is like that, full of power, full of dreams. Our ways crossed and paved the way for this unique dance project.

 5.    Is there a choreographer who has been a great inspiration for you? If so, why?

I think we are all the result of our pathway. I am part of all my mentors and choreographers I’ve worked with and/or admire. What I’ve also learned in my studies of pharmacy is that, as Lavoisier said, “Nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed.”

6.    What do you want the audience to take away from your work?

 I want the audience to be free to feel what they want. I would like them to be moved by what they see on stage and to share in my vision of a global culture, of a brotherhood beyond the frontiers and beliefs.

7.    What is a typical day at the studio like?

We start off with stretching and cardio training for an hour and a half. After that, we keep work on our technique in hip-hop or capoeira for an hour. We end with rehearsal time for our current projects.

8.    Can you tell us a little about the piece you will be performing here in Fayetteville – Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (What the Day Owes the Night)?

This piece is very important to us. What I love about this piece is that it allows the dancers to really be themselves on stage. Like I always say to our dancers, “once on stage – the piece is yours.” I enjoy providing each dancer this responsibility. They are very free in this piece, even if all the choreography is very written and precise. I love that paradox. It really permits each dancer the opportunity for self-expression and the audience a chance to connect with each dancer in their own right.

9.    Can you describe or summarize your style and/or philosophy about choreography?

Dance is a very ephemeral form of art, however I am very attached to the notion of time, history and culture and how they influence the impact of dance. My philosophy about choreography is that we have to be curious, to remain open to others without demagogy—to share our love of dance with people around the world. Dance is a declaration of love. To share that passion with fellow dancers and then work together to build a beautiful piece of choreography full of meaning – as if it was the witness of a constructed common thought – is the epitome of love.

10. Pick 5 words – that start with the letter ‘H’ – that best describe your work.

Heartfelt. Healing. Harmonious. Happy. Hypnotizing.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi will be at WAC Feb. 2, 2017, at 7pm. Tickets are $10. Don't miss out! 




Join Us For A Grand Reopening Celebration

A behind-the-scenes look at the magic that happens inside...

Nearly three decades ago, the City of Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas and private donors conceived of and built the Walton Arts Center. Now after 25 years, Walton Arts Center is ready to reopen their doors after a 16-month renovation and expansion project. 

Construction of Walton Arts Center in 1991

Construction of Walton Arts Center in 1991

Whether measured by entertainment value, artistic ingenuity, educational opportunity or economic impact, Walton Arts Center functions as one of the region’s most dramatic achievement of public and private cooperation. It took outsized dreams, inspired vision and generous gifting, and eventually it all came together. Out of a shuttered building was created an entertainment locale in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, a stage for Broadway stars, a campus for the creative and an artistic escape for the more than two million people who have visited the arts center since it opened in 1992.

Over the past 25 years, the population of Northwest Arkansas has more than doubled and the desire for arts and entertainment has grown correspondingly. The need to expand and renovate our main facility had become clear, and in June 2015, we kicked off the first phase of construction with a groundbreaking ceremony. Fast forward sixteen months, after a successful 2015-16 “Hard Hat Season,” and we are once again ready to open the doors and share our new facility with the community! 

We will host a Grand Reopening Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 19, which will include a Family Open House: “Behind the Curtain” from 10 am to 1 pm and an Evening Celebration: “Encore!” from 6 pm to 10 pm. This will be the very first public event in the brand new Walton Arts Center! Remarks and a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place just before 10 am. Light snacks and drinks will be available, and a number of family friendly activities will take place throughout the event—giving patrons a behind-the-scenes look at the magic that happens in a performing arts theater.

Open House attendees will get to watch Ballet Arkansas’ rehearsal for "The Nutcracker" 

Open House attendees will get to watch Ballet Arkansas’ rehearsal for "The Nutcracker" 


Open House attendees will get to watch Ballet Arkansas’ rehearsal for The Nutcracker in the newly renovated Starr Theater and experience the new backstage space, which will include makeup demonstrations in the wardrobe room, paint-by-numbers scenery in the loading dock, audio and lighting equipment show and tell, and much more. There will also be performances by Trike Theatre, Shannon Wurst and Fayetteville Old Time Music along with a few other special surprises. To top things off, a “Wow-Me” guided tour will take people from the orchestra pit up to the catwalk above Baum Walker stage where participants will get to explore the spotlight booth and newly installed theatrical rigging that allows for props to literally fly out over the patrons in the main hall.

Jazz artist Champian Fulton

Jazz artist Champian Fulton



This grand day of festivities will conclude with an Evening Celebration featuring the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas with special guests Delta Cappella, the VoiceJam 2015 competition winners from Memphis as well as Chicago’s Mucca Pazza. Attendees can stop by the comedy lounge for a few laughs or the jazz lounge for the soulful sounds of Champian Fulton, kick back and enjoy a number of acoustic sets, or kick up your heels while swing dancing alongside lively tunes from the Fayetteville Jazz Collective.

We hope the new Walton Arts Center will continue to be a gift to the current and future generations of Northwest Arkansas. With a grand community gathering space bridging the vibrancy of Dickson Street and a newly renovated two-theater facility—including event spaces for local artists and large-scale productions to bring their magic to Northwest Arkansas—the 2nd Act of Walton Arts Center looks to be very exciting indeed.

We hope you'll join us and help christen the new building at our Grand Reopening Celebration.