Battle of the Bands

Walton Arts Center's

Battle of the Bands

Thursday, Feb. 26 - Saturday, Feb. 28

Next weekend at Walton Arts Center three musical groups will face off in a Battle of the Bands like you’ve never seen it before! Artists from different decades with significantly different styles will compete in hopes of becoming the best of the best at Walton Arts Center.

Introducing our competitors...

In the first corner, we have Rhonda Vincent and the Rage! One of the most awarded bands in bluegrass, this musical sensation is sure to be a tough competitor. Rhonda Vincent, who was dubbed “The New Queen of Bluegrass” by The Wall Street Journal, is known for having mastered the progressive chord structures and multi-range, fast-paced vocals typical of bluegrass music. With that kind of talent, this band is going to be hard to beat! On Thursday, Feb. 26, see why The Buffalo News says that “Rhonda Vincent is to bluegrass now what Aretha Franklin once was to soul music.” Even the queen of country music, Dolly Parton is a fan! When asked what she thought about the bluegrass superstar, Parton answered with praise:

“Rhonda Vincent. What a talent. What a beauty. What a special human being.”

Our second musical act battling for the crown is The Australian Bee Gees Show. If you like romance, nostalgia, dancing and disco, this is sure to be the group you'll root for! This band pays tribute to four decades of songs written by the Gibb brothers a.k.a. the Bee Gees, including well-known songs like “Staying Alive” and “You Should be Dancing.” On top of that, there's a flashy light show and LED screens that really make you to feel like you’re back in the good ole days... the 70s! Grab your bell-bottoms, get up and boogie down with The Australian Bee Gees Show on Friday, Feb. 27.

And last, but not least, is the most contemporary of our competitors. Prepare to get pitch-slapped on Saturday, Feb. 28 by a sing-along version of “Pitch Perfect,” which tells the story of a group of ladies well-versed in competing in vocal battles. Using their voices to emulate instruments and harmonize contemporary tunes, this a cappella group is full of sass and ready to bring it! By mashing up pop songs we all know and love into something original and cutting edge, these ladies will make you laugh and want to sing-along! Lucky for you, we have the lyrics for you to follow along with on-screen. Grab your BFF and practice your do-re-mi's…’cause it’s going to be a sing-off like no other!

Now that you’ve gotten to know the competitors, you’re going to have to help us choose a winner! It is going to be tough deciding between these talented artists, so get your tickets for next weekend’s shows and decide, once and for all... who will win the Battle of the Bands? 

Tickets to all of these shows are on sale now! Buy tickets here.

 *Please note that this is not truly a Battle of the Bands, but rather a collection of various musical performances that will be held at Walton Arts Center this month. No competition winner will be chosen.

The Hot Sardines

Reinventing Hot Jazz for the 21st Century

Don your best vintage rags and join us this Thursday for The Hot Sardines! Named one of the best jazz bands in New York by Forbes magazine, The Hot Sardines is born of a unique recipe: take hot jazz and sultry standards from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, sprinkle in the rich Dixieland sounds of New Orleans, add a dash of wartime Paris flavor and stir in vibrant musical surprises that hold audiences captive. The band’s unforgettably wild live shows have a style and sound distinctly their own.

Did we mention there’s a tap dancer?

It’s hard to see photos of this band or hear their music without wanting to know more about what makes them tick. Luckily, our 10x10 Arts Series focuses on creating a space for audience/artist interaction, giving us the opportunity to ask the “Sardines” front-woman, “Miz Elizabeth” Bougero some questions to scratch that itch!

1.What’s the story behind the name of your band?

We needed a name to play at our first open mic. Jazz bands have been calling themselves "hot" forever -- think Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives, or Django Reinhardt's Hot Club of France -- so we wanted to pay homage to that. And then I saw a tin of sardines in hot pepper sauce at a supermarket and thought, that might work. 

2. What are your favorite artists and/or soundtracks to jam to?

Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington, James Brown... It's a long list.  

3. What’s it like to go from playing subway cards to clubs to large performance halls? 

Exhilarating! But ultimately we approach every venue like it's one of the underground soirees where we first started out: We're throwing a big, fat jazz party, and you're invited. 

 4. Pick 5 words that start with the letter ‘s’ to describe your music. 

  • Spirit (it's what the joy in this music is all about)
  • Soaring (how it feels when 8 people are making music together on stage)
  • Shared (we create each show in tandem with each different audience--that's part of the fun)
  • Sweaty (when you have a live tap dancer, sweaty is par for the course)
  • Spent (how we hope you feel after the show) 

5. What aspects of the Roaring Twenties inspire you most? 

We cull our musical references from the entire first half of the last century, but there's something about the '20s that really resonates today: The world was a troubled and uncertain place then as it is now, and people sought out experiences that lifted the spirit. And nothing we've found lifts the spirit like live jazz.  

 6. What has been your most exciting performance to date? 

In May were invited to play with the Boston Pops, who arranged our tunes for the entire symphony orchestra. We're still waiting to wake up from *that* dream. 

7. Do you have a preference for writing your own tunes, or reworking classic standards?

Each is scary and fulfilling in its own way. The standards have endured for a reason -- they're magical! So we love the challenge of tackling a classic song. We have two originals on the new album, Wake Up in Paris and Let's Go, and the mission there was to pen something that can hold its own alongside the classics. 

8. If you could play any other instrument(s), which would they be and why? 

Elizabeth would play the trumpet and piano--they're such versatile instruments. Evan [Evan “Bibs” Palazzo, piano] would play the piccolo for size, or the stock market.

 9. What is the best advice that you have been given?

The same advice we give: Play the music you love, not what you think people want to hear. If you're feeling it, the audience will feel it too. Also: Take the stairs.  

10. Whom do you define as a visionary? 

Every one of our influences had a specific musical vision that guided what they did. But to pick just one: Ray Charles, who knew that country tunes by the likes of Hank Williams could, with the right arrangements, swing hard. 


Click here for a little taste of The Hot Sardines' straight-up, foot-stomping sound!


Elvis Lives!


What Would Elvis Do?

Take a musical journey across the life of Elvis Presley this Friday with a concert extravaganza that pays homage to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis Lives features four talented tribute artists who portray Elvis in one of four eras: the 1950s, the ‘60s, during his movie career and his final concert years.

 Elvis Lives is dedicated to the music that defines the King’s legacy, but what other legacies did Elvis Presley leave behind? In order to give everyone the full inside scoop into the life of Elvis Presley, we’ve put together a day full of Elvis-inspired activities. Be a part of this fun-filled day and join us on Friday night to hear some of the King’s greatest hits!

A Day in the Life of the King

Rumor has it that Elvis wouldn’t leave the house without a Pepsi in hand, so first things first, grab an ice-cold Pepsi to pack for the road.

While you’re at it, you’ll probably want to pack a lunch too. Good news -- you should already have all the ingredients you need to make the King’s favorite meal! All you need is two slices of white bread, a banana, a jar of peanut butter and, if you’re feeling daring, a couple slices of bacon. Elvis’ favorite meal was a grilled peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich.

Need some instructions for how to assemble it? We’ve got you covered:  

Once you have your lunch packed, you’re going to need somewhere to go! You’ll be excited to know that we have an activity planned for you that Elvis himself wouldn’t have been able to turn down.

 It’s a well-known fact that Elvis loved animals.  He even had a pet monkey named Scatter! Although there aren’t many monkeys hanging around (no pun intended!) Northwest Arkansas, we do know where you could find a few closeby.

The Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry, Ark. is home to many exotic animals! It’s the perfect place for you and your family to monkey around (I did it again!) on your day in the life of Elvis.

To learn more about Elvis Lives at WAC this Friday or to purchase tickets, click here.




Complex, Sexy and Irreverently Imaginative 

This Friday, Tangram will be preforming at WAC. Tangram redraws the boundaries of dance, new circus and physical theatre. Created and performed by classically trained ballerina Cristiana Casadio and world-class circus artist Stefan Sing, this compelling production from Berlin encapsulates the struggles of human relationships in a performance that is both beautiful and breathtaking. Whether she’s hanging from her partner’s fingertips like a marionette, or he’s shielding himself from juggling balls landing on him like missiles, the pair embodies both passion and fury. Imaginative, sensuous and cutting-edge, Tangram questions what it is like to surrender to love and asks us, who is in control?

As part of our 10x10 Arts Series, which seeks to educate and inspire theatergoers to explore new art-forms, we asked both Christiana and Stefan to answer 10 questions that will give us some insight into their artistry. 

1) What are your favorite songs to jam to?

Stefan: everything which is minimal… when classical instruments, they have to be solo instruments… music which is present, but without giving too much information... John Cage, minimal electronic music.

Cristiana: classical music, especially string music... electronic music but less minimal than Stefan’s taste.

Both together: there is nothing better than live music. 

2) What makes an interdisciplinary approach to art so powerful?

The intersection between two disciplines can be powerful because it's something unexpected and rarely seen. I do not think that an interdisciplinary approach is powerful in and of itself.  Anything that is done well is powerful.

3) How does the title Tangram speak to the performance?

TANGRAM is an old Chinese intersection puzzle with seven different flat shapes. Using a small number of pieces you can illustrate almost everything you want. It' s a metaphor for our work: there are only two bodies and one object (the ball), but you can connect them in an infinite number of ways. Also the game is very minimalistic. This was also an important thought for our piece. We use only balls for our scenography, and we put them in different shapes to create new "stages sets."

4) Out of the following, which would you like to be and why?

  •       Clock
  •       Hummingbird
  •       Pair of shoes
  •       Sea turtle 

Stefan: Perhaps a sea turtle because I love to sleep and just chill and be slow.

Cristiana: I would like to be a clock, because the clock is always in the present (which is one of the most difficult things).

5) What do you find most exciting about exploring attraction, love, power and control using just your body?

Perhaps the control - because it requests a more subtle way of research. 

6) What is the best advice that you have been given?

Stefan: Do not comment on things happening on stage with your facial expression. First of all, the actions should speak for themselves and second of all, leave space for interpretation for every single person in the audience.

Cristiana: Speak less and do more.

7) Are there moments in your performance that reflect your experiences as a married couple?

Yes and no. On stage everything is exaggerated… we would never be so bad and mean to each other.  But in a small way, it is possible to see our relationship (and hopefully others can see their relationship dynamics too).

8) How does your work connect to the larger world?

Good question for which I do not really have an answer.  It is possible that some people in the audience can see in our stuff aspects of their own life and perhaps it can give an impulse to live a better life. But in general, it doesn't connect concretely to the larger world - we are in the "artist bubble." Any connection to the larger world would be made by the audience.

 9) Who do you define as a visionary?

People who have the courage to do things on stage without thinking about the response of the audience. It's not about provocation just for the sake of provocation, but it's about feeling the need to express something. To be specific: Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, John Cage and Merce Cunningham. 

10) If you could incorporate another art form into your show, which would it be, and why?

Narrative Theatre - speaking on stage. But actually there is no other art form I really would like to incorporate. Stefan (the juggler) would like to be a better dancer. Cristiana would like to incorporate performing music on stage and be able to produce the music on her own.



"Inspiring" -- Audience Reviews on Soweto Gospel Choir

Walton Arts Center was thrilled to have the Soweto Gospel Choir as part of our 10x10 Arts Series last week. Baum Walker Hall was filled with patrons of all ages who gave us lots of positive feedback, and around 1,000 Northwest Arkansas students were able to see the performance through performing arts field trips with their schools--the cherry on top of the Choir's visit to NWA.

If you missed out on this amazing show, don't worry! We still have several 10x10 performances remaining this season. Our next 10x10 show is coming up on Wednesday, April 23, so go ahead and add the hilarious Improvised Shakespeare Company to your planner. You definitely won't want to miss out on a night of laughter with this talented group!

Here are a few more comments we received from you after the show:

“My heart was full! Soweto Choir Rules!"

“Wonderful cultural experience” 

“My favorite 10x10!”

Thank you so much to everyone who came out and made the Soweto Gospel Choir performance such a success! We hope to see you for our next 10x10 performance!

Clara, The Mouse King and NWA kids!

Back by popular demand, Moscow Classical Ballet's The Nutcracker returns next weekend for four performances. We love this production for many reasons, one of which is the fact that local children get to audition & be a part of the show! 

We held auditions last week and it was a difficult task to make selections as all the children are adorable & great fun to work with. Alas, we had to narrow it down, and here is our final list of stars!

Kaya Beeler 

Grant Bowman

Kaitlin Drake

Madison Gates

Ella Kestner

Paige Koch

Hayden McClure

Wryn Pitts

Sloane Pitts

Makiah Lynn Ragsdale

Julia Rain Sowerwine

Ashlynn Watson

There was representation from many of the surrounding cities, and our finalists come from Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville & Farmington. 

Join us next weekend, December 20-22 as we welcome Moscow Classical Ballet's The Nutcracker back to Northwest Arkansas and cheer on our local performers! 

Thanks for bringing “Hope for the Holidays!”

We had an awesome opportunity this month to partner with the United Way of Northwest Arkansas and help families across our region.

In Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, friends Bob and Phil go out of their way to improve the fortunes of their former commanding officer Gen. Waverly, after the lack of snow ruins his business season. From Nov. 1-16, $1 was donated to United Way NWA for every ticket purchased to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, running Tuesday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 24. (Limited tickets are still available.)

We are excited to say the campaign was a great success! With your help, we were able to donate $1000 to United Way NWA to support a variety of community programs! The mission of United Way of Northwest Arkansas is to build a stronger community by identifying needs around education, income and health, then mobilizing resources to effectively meet them. 

United Way + Community

United Way NWA is part of United Way Worldwide, a service and training center that helps raise awareness about United Way on a national level and sets standards of excellence for local United Ways. Money contributed to United Way of NWA is distributed to programs in our community, to help meet more needs. United Way NWA also has its own initiatives, like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that provides free books to young children, the NWA Diaper Bank that distributes diapers to community agencies and the 2-1-1 call center that connects families to aid and digs deeper to reach the root of their difficulties.

Thank you all so much for participating and supporting such a great cause! 

A Renovated Lobby/Plaza Creates a New Destination Space for Fayetteville!

Such exciting things are happening at Walton Arts Center! After 22 years, our building is ready to undergo a major face-lift so it can better serve the growing and changing needs of Fayetteville and the region. The schematic design phase is coming to an end, and we're getting close to the beginning of our renovation plans!

A critical next step is the upcoming bond election on Nov. 12. Your "Yes" vote will designate $6.9 million from the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant tax toward our $20 million+ project. The HMR tax was created to fund projects that increase tourism in Fayetteville.  Walton Arts Center has been the economic engine of Dickson Street for 22 years; arts attendees spend an average of $20 beyond the cost of admission at area restaurants, on transportation, for refreshments and more. (Read more about the economic impact of WAC here.)

A vote of yes or no will not affect taxes, your vote just directs how funds from the HMR tax are spent. For more information on the vote, see 3 Votes for Fayetteville on Facebook, and visit the Washington County website for a full list of polling sites and information about early voting this week. A map of polling places can be viewed here. If the vote passes, construction on the lobby will start this summer! Early voting is going on now at the Washington County Courthouse from 8am to 4:30pm.

In this post, we're talking about changes in the main lobby. Check back later this week, to learn more about other renovations!

 Dickson Street Entrance and Plaza rendering by Boora Architects.

Lobby Renovations

  • New modernized entrance
  • 15,000 square feet of additional lobby space
  • Improved accessibility
  • Balcony lobby open to main lobby
  • Unified, larger and centrally located concessions/coat check/Will Call area
  • Expanded restrooms
  • Technical upgrades

The new lobby, and its expansion onto Tyson Plaza, will create a more urban landscape and change the way WAC interacts with Dickson Street. The rendering shows the new central entrance and stairs that bring the building closer to the street and make it a more welcoming space on Dickson Street. This will allow create a destination for outdoor and indoor community gatherings, receptions and special events.   

If you've been to a packed show before, you know how cramped the lobby can be! The new layout will provide much needed space to improve patron experiences, and also opens the balcony-lobby area up for a more inclusive experience.

A new, larger concierge station is planned to serve as a one-stop destination for patrons to pick up tickets from Will Call, use Coat Check, grab booster seats and of course enjoy refreshments! The Box Office will also be relocated closer to Starr Theater (near the current West Ave. entrance) so it is more convenient for all patrons to access. And, ladies, the bathrooms are being expanded! More stalls are being added to the women's restrooms, and the men's to a lesser degree, to help you get in and out quicker, especially during intermission.

 Dickson Street Entrance and Plaza rendering by Boora Architects.

Within Baum Walker Hall, efforts are being made to improve accessible seating, adding more with central sight lines. Technical upgrades are also being made too much of the sound and lighting equipment in the hall. After 22 years, a lot has changed in show technology and an extensive upgrade like this will allow us to book the newest and most exciting performances!

Check back later to learn about the changes in Starr Theater!

Mnozil Brass wraps up October 10x10!

This Friday, Oct. 25, we have our third 10x10 Arts Series performance with Mnozil Brass. Called the “Monty Pythons of music”, these Austrians create high-energy concerts with pieces ranging from the William Tell Overture to Bohemian Rhapsody.

We had the chance to ask members Leonhard Paul and Wilfried Brandstötter a few questions. Read them below, then watch a video of them performing – sometimes upside down!

1. Fill in the blank; Mnozil Brass is ______.

Seven instruments, seven characters, seven opinions.

2. What is your most memorable performance and why?

We have done about 2,000 gigs so far, so there have been a couple of memorable things. We have performed in wine cellars and on trucks, on boats and in pubs, for weddings and funerals, in very small (50pax) and very large halls (7000pax). 

3. What kind of art inspires you?


4. As an artist, is there anything you hope to be able to accomplish?

Sure. Wisdom and respect and a better embouchure. 

5. Who is your artistic icon? Why?

All the great performers! Frank Sinatra, Spike Jones and the City Slickers, Victor Borge, Barbra Streisand, Danny Kaye and many more.

6. What profession other than yours would you most like to attempt?

We are happy as musicians! 

7. What are the three most played songs on your iPod?

Changes daily. 

8. What do you want audiences to walk away with after your performance?

With a smile on their face and a DVD.

9. If there were a feature film created about your life who would play you?

Krasimir Stojakawowsky.

10. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

To play the violin secretly.

11. Music and comedy is such a great combination! Were you born funny or did you study comedy as well?

As we haven’t studied comedy we must have been born this way.

12. What is your favorite meal before a performance?


13. Mnozil? What’s the story behind the name?

We’re named after the cafe where we started playing.

Tickets are still available, so help us welcome these amazing performers to NWA! Join the Facebook Event to stay up to date with all the information on our pre-show Creative Conversation with a member of the Mnozil Brass team, and the post-show party where you can mingle with the performers and enjoy a signature 10x10 cocktail!


Thanks for Supporting Arts + Literacy!


This October, we decided to do something a little different with Information Literacy Awareness Month. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle teaches the Beast to read, highlighting the importance of literacy through the arts. In recognition of Belle’s commitment, we decided to partner with the Ozark Literacy Council to promote “Arts + Literacy,” a campaign to raise money and awareness for literacy in our community. From Oct. 1 – 14, $1 was donated to OLC for every ticket purchased to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is happening this weekend. If you missed out, don’t worry! Limited tickets are still available, and OLC will have information tables set up in the lobby at every performance!

We are excited to say the campaign was a great success! With your help, we were able to donate $500 to OLC to support literacy in our community! The Ozark Literacy Council’s mission it to improve lives by expanding and promoting literacy within the community. Their vision is to ensure that everyone in Washington County possess literacy and language skills that enhance their lives and empower them to become full participating members of our community.

Ozark Literacy Council…

  • Is the oldest and largest literacy council in the state.
  • Serves well over 300 students from more than 50 different countries.
  • Had almost 20,000 instructional hours completed by volunteers last year.
  • Offers all classes at no cost.

Literacy is more than being able to read, it’s the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.

Did you know…

  • 298,000 Arkansas function at below basic literacy skills. That’s 10.5% of the state’s population!*
  • 93 million adults (32.1%) struggle with basic literacy skills nationwide.*
  • The U.S. ranks 5th on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • Low literacy costs the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
  • According to, for every dollar that gets spent on adult illiteracy, society reaps $7.14 in returns — whether through increased revenues or decreased expenditures. Thanks to your help, this campaign could have a $3,570 impact!

Literacy + Community

Besides the donations made to OLC, we also participated in other events in the community to encourage literacy.

On Oct. 8, we joined 5 News anchor Jocelyne Pruna for a funny fairy tale story time at the Fayetteville Public Library. Kids whose parents are involved with them in family literacy activities score 10 points higher on standardized tests. Plus, a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, more important than factors like neighborhood and family income!

Literacy +  Schools

Just like Belle, NWA school children love books, and we wanted to hear about it! The I Love Books Essay Content was held at three area schools that participate in the Northwest Arkansas Writing Project through the University of Arkansas. This was part of our Learning and Engagement literacy initiative. Students from 2nd-12th grade wrote essays talking about their favorite books, and two winners were selected at random. Read one of the essays here! Congratulations to our winners: Taylor Caudle of Prairie Grove Middle School and Lexi Willroth of Walker Elementary School!

Beauty and the Beast will be at Walton Arts Center for five performances this weekend, from Oct. 18 to 20. More information and tickets can be found at:

*Based on population size in 2003 when the U.S. Department of Education conducted the National Assessment Survey of Adult Literacy.

“Simply Delightful” – L.A. Guitar Quartet

We had a great turn-out for L.A. Guitar Quartet, the second performance in our 10x10 Arts Series. A big thanks to everyone who came and made this a special night. We have one more 10x10 show this month, with the “Monty Pythons of Music,” Mnozil Brass, on Friday, October 25.

Here are a few comments we received from you after the show:

“Best 10x10 yet!!”

“Great Group, Great Sound”


Our next 10x10 performance features Mnozil Brass! RSVP to the Facebook Event to stay up-to-date with the latest information on the pre-show Creative Conversation, and the post-show party where you can mingle with the performers and enjoy a signature 10x10 cocktail! Watch the video below for a sneak-peak to see that these funny guys mean business!

10x10 is back with Los Angeles Guitar Quartet!

This Thursday, Oct. 10, we have our second 10x10 Arts Series performance with Los Angeles Guitar Quartet! The Grammy® Award-winning group plays across the genres. Their programs have included Latin, African, Far East, Irish, Folk and American Classics that transport listeners around the world! 

We had the chance to ask members John Dearman and William Kanengiser a few questions! Check them out below, then watch a video of them performing.

1. What great advice did you receive when you began your artistic journey?

William: Find the best teacher you can, and do everything he says!

2. What is your most memorable performance and why?

John: We played a concert in a giant lava tube - kind of like a cave created by a huge bubble in an ancient lave flow - on Lanzarote; one of the Canary Islands. It was actually a real concert hall and was part of a whole underground complex of hotels, restaurants and bars. An awesome place! 

William: Doing "Don Quixote" with Monty Python's John Cleese; sharing the stage with one of my comic heroes is something I'll never forget.

3. What kind of art inspires you?

John: I saw a film called 'Gerhard Richter Painting' recently - I like what he does.

4. Who is your artistic icon? Why?

John: I love the Assad Brothers. Of course they're guitarists, they play Brazilian as well as classical music, and for me, they just have the perfect temperament as performers and personalities. They never fail to astound me in every way.

William: Maestro Pepe Romero.  As our mentor, friend and role model, he epitomizes the ideal of the virtuoso soloist, consummate ensemble player and inspirational stage performer.

5. What profession other than yours would you most like to attempt?

John: Restoring vintage motorcycles.

William: Gourmet chef.

6. What are the three most played songs on your iPod?

John: I don't really know but: Recently I listened to “Forrobodo” by Egberto Gismonti in a loop for about 30 minutes. 2 others that come to mind: “The Soleares from En Vivo” by Paco de Lucia.  A tune called “Greenwich Mean” by the guitarist Wayne Krantz.

William: Glenn Gould's 1981 “Goldberg Variations,” “Romance de Abindarraez” played by Jordi Savall and Hesperian XX, "California" by Joni Mitchell.

7. What do you want audiences to walk away with after your performance?

John: That they've heard something new and they liked it.

William: With a new appreciation for the sonic potential of the classical guitar. And a few copies of our CD's, I suppose!

8. If there were a feature film created about your life who would play you?

John: Bryan Cranston, of course.

William: Paul Giamatti!

9. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

John: HBO - there's just too much good stuff on TV these days!

10. Why a quartet? What is so magical about 4 guitarists as opposed to 2, 6, or 8?

John: The Romeros were such an inspiration and we've never really thought about any other formation.

11. Do you have a favorite sports team?

John: Any team that's playing against the Celtics.

William: Sadly, the Los Angeles Lakers.  It's going to be a long year.

 Tickets are still available, so help us welcome these amazing musicians to NWA! Join the Facebook Event to stay up to date with all the information on our pre-show Creative Conversation with a member of LAGQ team, and the post-show party where you can mingle with the performers and enjoy a signature 10x10 cocktail!

"Oh my, oh my!" - AnDa Union

What an amazing kick-off to our 10x10 Arts Series with AnDa Union! Thanks to everyone that joined us last Friday for this performance and helped make it an evening to remember! Our next 10x10 show is this Thursday, October 10 with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

The AnDa Union pre-show Creative Conversation with Tim Pearce (sound engineer and tour manager) and Sophie Lascelles (artistic director) was a wonderful experience.  Tim shared his experience going from a London concert promoter to focusing his work around AnDa Union and working to create the documentary “From the Steppes To The City” with his Sophie, his wife.

If you’ve never been to a performance featuring throat singing, you missed out! The singers of AnDa Union filled Baum Walker Hall with their unique sounds; you could feel it in the air in a way videos can’t capture!

Here are a few comments we received from you after the show:

“Beautiful! Amazing voices. I appreciated the background photos that showed life & scenery in Mongolia. Interesting instruments too.”

“AnDa Union – mesmerizing and thrilling”

“I like the funny noises they made and I like all of the songs.” – Owen, 4 years old

“I’m saddle sore – tearing across the grasslands. Thanks”


Our next 10x10 performance features the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet! RSVP to the Facebook Event to stay up-to-date with the latest information on the pre-show Creative Conversation, and watch our blog for a Q&A with some of the members this week!

Introducing...Bear State of Mind!

In 2010, Walton Arts Center partnered with Trike Theater to create Digging Up Arkansas – an engaging Arkansas history production for students in grades 3rd through 5th.

Now, a new play has been developed for K-2nd grades, called Bear State of Mind!  WAC, along with partners Trike Theatre, NWA playwright Ashley Edwards and songwriter Shannon Wurst, produced Bear State of Mind as a way to help students learn about Arkansas. The play uses experiential theater techniques, music and puppetry to meet Common Core State Learning Standards, including Arkansas history and social studies curriculums.  Pre- and post-show lesson plans, activities and materials were developed by our Learning & Engagement Team for schools, to deepen students’ understandings of Arkansas history.

More than 2,000 area students from 14 schools have already seen Bear State this year, and seeing them experience this show has been great!

The story is about Bear, who travels through three of Arkansas’ geographic regions and meets new friends and uncovers native wildlife, folklore and state symbols. The unique staging of the play makes the most of 5-8 year olds’ natural tendency to explore their surroundings; seating them under a tree canopy in a “Magical Forest” to help facilitate their physical participation in the performance.   

Students at a performance of Bear State of Mind. Photos by Ironside Photograpy.

As the students entered the Bear State campground in Starr Theater, they couldn’t contain their excitement! “Wow!” “It’s so dark!” “Oo!” They turned to their friends and giggled in excitement as they followed their teachers inside.

The children sat on their sleeping bags and tarps around the campfire, full of energy, excitement and wonder. Their heads whipped around each time a new sound came through the speakers, crickets and cicadas chirping, a bird’s song, frogs croaking.

Bear State performers Jason Suel, (top right) Shannon Wurst and Julie Gabel. Photos by Ironside Photography.

Performances like Bear State and DUA allow us to bring these benefits to the classroom, and reach students who may not otherwise have access to these opportunities! A recent study showed that field trips to WAC provide students with long term benefits, like higher tolerance and empathy and a desire to participate in cultural activities. For a synopsis of the recent WAC study, visit EducationNext

Check out these comments from teachers who brought their classes to see Bear State:

  • “One of the best performances I have ever attended with students!” Anne Garrett, Root Elementary, Kindergarten
  • “This was a fantastic performance! Students were actively engaged the entire time.  I can’t wait to get back and discuss the content with them.”  Root Elementary Teacher, Grade 1
  • “I have always enjoyed Walton Arts Center performances, and this was the best – aligned with expectations for student learning.”  Delia Gorder, Root Elementary, Grade 1
  • “Fantastic and engaging show.  Relevant to our kids’ lives and super interesting.  Lots of details & hidden surprises.  Our kids loved it!”  Ms. Ogle, Washington Elementary, Grade 1
  • “Probably the best show we have seen!  Very entertaining and age appropriate!”  Washington Elementary Teacher – Grade 1

Bear State performers Shannon Wurst, Jason Suel and Julie Gabel. Photos by Ironside Photography.


10x10 Arts Series Kick-off with AnDa Union!

We’re excited to kick-off our 10x10 Arts Series next Friday, Oct. 4 with AnDa Union! This amazing musicians and vocalists are unlike anything hosted on the WAC stage before. Coming from nearly 7,000 miles away, the young musicians in AnDa Union take you on a hauntingly beautiful musical journey, uniting the diverse traditions and styles of both Inner and Outter Mongolia through all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.

AnDa Union

We had the chance to ask the performers a few questions! Check out band members Saikhannakhaa and Chinggel's answers below, and then watch a video of them performing.

  • What are you most looking forward to on this US Tour?

We love playing concerts!

  • What is your favorite Mongolian tradition? 

Mongolian music

  • What size of audiences and whom do you typically perform for in Inner Mongolia? 

Over 1,000 people – especially younger people. 

  • How did you learn how to play your instrument? When?

We trained at music school from the age of 13. 

  • What makes you unique from other performers?

The way we combine Mongolian music and singing style.

  • What are 3 goals of your performances?

That the audience have a good time, that they learn about Mongolian culture and that they leave feeling the world is a better place.

  • What do you want audiences to walk away with?

Happy memories of our music, culture and grasslands.

  • Was there some great advice you received as you began your artistic journey? 

Be true to your music and your heart.  

  • Is there something you enjoy collecting?  

Instruments! And music. 

  • What profession other than yours would you most like to attempt? 

A teacher, or maybe start a Mongolian restaurant.  



Tickets are still available, so help us welcome these amazing musicians to NWA! Join the Facebook Event to stay up to date with all the information on our pre-show Creative Conversation with a member of the AnDa Union team, and the post-show party where you can mingle with the performers and enjoy a signature 10x10 cocktail!

Long-Term Benefits of Field Trips to the Walton Arts Center

Some exciting news came to Walton Arts Center this week: A recent study shows that field trips to Walton Arts Center can provide long term benefits to students! Last year alone, more than 50,000 students experienced the arts through programs like Digging Up Arkansas, the Colgate Classroom Series, and other master classes and activities with WAC performing artists.

In tandem with a study on the educational value of museum field trips conducted at Crystal Bridges, University of Arkansas researchers Jay P. Greene and Brian Kisida investigated the long term benefits of student field trips to Walton Arts Center.

More than 2,000 7th graders from around the area participated in a survey asking about their participation in cultural activities and their values like tolerance and empathy. The students’ answers were analyzed based on how many WAC performances they had been to throughout their school careers. 

For each field trip students took to WAC, there was a statistically significant difference in students’ desire to attend cultural events. And more than that, field trip participation increased student desire to participate in cultural activities, not just attend them. Also notable, the study found that students who participate in arts field trips are more tolerant and empathetic than other students. The study will help educators better understand the important benefits that field trips to arts institutions offer students.

Engaging the Community through the Artosphere Partner Grant

Although it seems like 2013 Artosphere just happened, here at Walton Arts Center we’re already getting excited for the 2014 Artosphere: Arkansas’ Arts & Nature Festival!

One of the most unique aspects of Artsophere is the way projects inspire and engage the community. The annual Artosphere Partner Grant helps fund artist projects that support the mission and theme of Artosphere (to celebrate artists, influenced by nature, who inspire us to live more sustainable lives).

This year, a total of $20,000 will be awarded among 1-5 2014 Artosphere Partner Grant winners.


In the last two years, the grant has funded several projects, including 2013 Artosphere’s The Herd and The Swarm by Tasha Lewis and Sun Boxes by Craig Colorusso.

Tasha Lewis’s installation of The Herd was placed in Walton Arts Center’s Cynthia H. Coughlin Gallery Lobby. More than 17 sculptures of antelopes, impalas and gazelles were sculpted from printed fabrics and featured emerging and disappearing into walls. More than 1,400 students and teachers were able to experience these majestic animals while visiting Walton Arts Center last Spring. 


For The Swarm, more than 1,000 butterflies were printed in various sizes with cyanotype on fabric and constructed with the help of community volunteers. Small but powerful magnets placed on their bellies allowed the installation to move around throughout 2013 Artosphere, appearing at multiple sites throughout Artosphere without leaving a trace. At each location, viewers were able to move the butterflies around the site, allowing them to both experience the project and help it evolve. In a final send-off of the installation, community members were invited to help the butterflies “migrate” by taking one or two of these beautiful butterflies home with them. We are certain they all found good homes.

The installation of Sun Boxes was created by Rogers-based artist Craig Colorusso. Each sun box is a solar powered speaker, operating independently and programed with a guitar note that plays on a loop. Together, the notes form a Bb chord, slowly changing and evolving over time because of the different lengths for each note’s loop. Listen here!  In a community yoga event held by Soul Yoga Lounge at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, local yogis joined together to celebrate nature and practice yoga to the sunrise and the ethereal sounds of Sun Boxes.

The 2012 Artosphere Partner Grant also led to the Artist’s Laboratory Theatre’s production of “Alley 38,” a theatrical walking expedition through the uncharted places of downtown Fayetteville, and the installation “Karst” by Massey Burke, which still stands on West Avenue today!

 “Supporting artists that give the community new ways to think about art and nature is important for the vision of Artosphere. For the past two years, the Partner Grant Program has been successful in generating thoughtful and collaborative work and we look forward to reviewing new proposals that are challenging and exciting.” - Laura Goodwin, VP of Learning and Engagement at Walton Arts Center

If you are interested in applying for a grant, submissions are due November 1, 2013 at 11:59pm, and the award announcement will be made on December 1, 2013. To submit a proposal or learn more about the application criteria, click here. 

Program Evaluation Criteria:

  • Relationship to and support of the Artosphere Festival
  • Artistic quality
  • Degree of community involvement
  • Visibility – the estimated number of people who will experience your project
  • Projects must occur in Northwest Arkansas and be presented within May 1 - June 7, 2014 

Project ideas include but are not limited to:

  • Theme specific theatrical performances, musical performances, visual arts installations (indoor, outdoor, etc.)
  • Public improvisation activities, concerts or artistic expression
  • Community collaborations
  • “Festival within a festival”
  • Artosphere event enhancements (pre or post-show activities, events or experiences in support of Artosphere programming)

Save & Close

Creativity and diversity are highly encouraged in support of the Artosphere Festival. 


Welcome to NWA Jersey Boys!

Wednesday morning we held a Broadway Breakfast here at Walton Arts Center with not 1, not 2, not even 3, but all 4 of the Jersey Boys stars!

WAC's own Lydia Corbell took the stage with stars to facilitate a conversation about Jersey Boys and their roles. 

(L to R) Nicolas Dromard (Tommy DeVito), Jason Kappus (Bob Gaudio), Nick Cosgrove (Frankie Valli) and Brandon Andrus (Nick Massi).

The guys shared stories about all the work it took to get cast in Jersey Boys, their start in theater and the things to come! 

Nick Cosgrove, is living the dream! While in high school, he saw a production of Jersey Boys at the Bank of America Theater in Chicago, and realized that was what he wanted to do, and Frankie Valli was his dream roll! Now, at 25, not only is he playing Frankie Valli, but he was able to return to that theater in Chicago and perform for his family and friends.

But before there was even an opening for the roll, he had to audition through the intense "Frankie Camp" and be molded into the authentic Jersey personality. 30 actors go in, less than 10 potential Frankies walk out!

Both Jason Kappus and Brandon Andrus have been touring with this production of Jersey Boys since it started almost two years ago.

When Jason auditioned for the role of Bob Gaudio, he had to portray the character in front of the man himself! 

Brandon Andrus describes himself as the group's "resident tourist." As they tour from city to city, he likes to take time to see the sights, and what makes each area special. He's already got Hammontree's and Crystal Bridges on his radar for NWA!

Nicolas Dromard talked about working with a vocal coach so they could all master the true Four Seasons Jersey accent. They spent hours mastering the accent, going through their scripts so everything is phonetically accurate, and they even have CDs to listen to so they can keep their accents strong.

The cast all expressed their love for being part of such a great production, and the power of the audience to keep the show fresh and exciting for them week after week. Let's make sure to show them a big NWA welcome each night!

"Every night it's a ride from start to finish that we love being on," Nicolas Dromard said.

The show runs until Sunday, with two performances on both Saturday and Sunday, but tickets are going fast! Grab yours here, and for the best seating availability check out Sunday night!

Cookin' up good times with Jersey Boys!

Time is flying by, and now Jersey Boys is so close we can almost taste it! Or maybe that’s this Jersey Boys Meatballs recipe, full of garlic, cheese and everything nice. Leave it to a flavorful show like this one to get us excited with food! Hit up Spotify or the Jersey Boys website so you can rock out while you cook up some juicy Jersey magic! If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to grab your tickets for Jersey Boys, making its Northwest Arkansas debut Sept. 3–8!

Here’s some tasty trivia to go with your Jersey Boys Buffet! See how many you know! (Correct answers at bottom of post.)

  1. Which of these names did The Four Seasons use before making it big?
    • The Four Tenors
    • The Four Rays
    • The Four Lovers
    • The Four Felons
  2. How many awards did Jersey Boys win at the 2006 Tony Awards?
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  3. Where did The Four Seasons get their name?
    • A bowling alley
    • A restaurant
    • Vivaldi
    • Frankie Valli’s mother
  4. How many Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons songs are in Jersey Boys?
    • 5
    • 12
    • 19
    • 32
  5. What is the name of the actress in the Million Dollar Movie who inspired Bob Gaudio to write “Big Girls Don’t Cry”?
    • Evelyn Keyes
    • Claudette Colbert
    • Maureen O’Hara
    • Rhonda Fleming
  6. Approximately how many costumes are used in Jersey Boys?
    • 100
    • 250
    • 500
    • 743

If you try the recipe, come back and let us know how it went! Then check out Jersey Boys and get ready to say "Oh, What a Night!" 

Former Jersey Boys cast members with the Jersey Boys Meatballs. Photo via PerthNow, by Marie Nirme

Answers: 1. The Four Lovers, 2. 4, 3. A Bowling Alley, 4. 19, 5. Rhonda Fleming, 6. 500 costumes!

10x10 Arts Series Giveaway!

Here at Walton Arts Center we are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season! The shows on our 10x10 Arts Series are always audience favorites as they provide unique entertainment experiences with pre and post-show activities and conversations.

In celebration of the new season, we are giving one lucky audience member the chance to see all of the 10x10 Arts Series shows for free with our 10x10 Giveaway! It's super easy to enter - there's a Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post, just follow the steps & voila! You're entered! 

This season’s 10x10 Arts Series is a unique collection of music, dance and comedy. All of the shows on this series start at $10 per ticket. Here is a look at all the performances the winner of our giveaway, and all audience members will be enjoying this season:

AnDa Union 

Friday, October 4 at 8 pm

From Inner Mongolia, AnDa Union draws inspiration from Mongolian music that nearly disappeared during China’s tumultuous past. This acoustic group of 14 musicians and vocalists creates unforgettable rhythms with throat singing and traditional instruments including the morin khuur (a horse-hair fiddle) and the maodun chaoer (a three-holed flute).

AnDa Union

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Thursday, October 10 at 7:30 pm

Playing to sold-out houses world-wide, this Grammy®-winning quartet is one of the most multifaceted groups in any genre. Comprised of four accomplished guitarists (John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Matthew Greif) who bring a new energy to the stage, their programs range from Bluegrass to Bach and guarantee a night of musical delight.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Mnozil Brass

Friday, October 25 at 8 pm

A brass ensemble like you’ve never seen before, Mnozil Brass is simultaneously an orchestra, ballet, chorus and ensemble of soloists. These seven musicians have been called the “Monty Pythons of music” due to their humor and comedic timing.

Mnozil Brass

Compagnie Käfig

Thursday, January 23 at 8 pm

Artistic director Mourad Merzouki is at the forefront of the international hip-hop dance scene. Käfig’s sensational double bill of Correria andAgwa showcases the all-male ensemble of 11 Brazilian dancers in an irresistible mix of athletic samba, hip-hop and capoeira dance styles, highlighting astonishing acrobatic skills and dazzling virtuosity.

Compagnie Kafig photo by Christopher Duggan

Chucho Valdes

Friday, February 14 at 8 pm

With five Grammys® and numerous other awards, Chucho Valdes is one of the most influential Latin musicians and jazz pianists ever. It’s a night for lovers, and lovers of jazz! 

Chucho Valdes


Friday, February 21 at 8 pm

LEO is an astonishing show that asks you to forget the rules of the universe and enter an entirely different world. This fantastical, witty one-man show from Berlin blends brilliant physical theater, acrobatics, and mind-bending animation, challenging perception of reality through the clever interplay of live performance and video projection.


Soweto Gospel Choir

Thursday, March 6 at 7:30 pm

The 24 member Grammy®-winning choir from South Africa is dedicated to sharing their faith and their music.  Some of Soweto’s most famous songs include Grammy®-winning “Baba Yetu (Our Father)” and the Oscar nominated “Down to Earth.” 

Soweto Gospel Choir photo by Tony Lewis

The Improvised Shakespeare Company

Wednesday, April 23 at 7:30 pm

Based on audience suggestion, the Company creates a fully improvised play in Elizabethan style. Each of the players has brushed up on his “thee’s” and “thou’s” to bring you an evening of off-the-cuff comedy using the language and themes of William Shakespeare.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company

Trey McIntyre Project

Friday, May 16 at 8 pm

Trey McIntyre’s innovative and notably American brand of dance was called “amazingly fresh” by The New York Times. The evening will include a new ballet choreographed by Artistic Director Trey McIntyre, set to chamber music and premiering in spring 2014.

Trey McIntyre Project photo by Lois Greenfield

Time for Three with the Artosphere Festival Orchestra

Saturday, May 31 at 8 pm

The Artosphere Festival Orchestra under the direction of Corrado Rovaris headlines the 2014 Artosphere Festival with a program featuring Time for Three, the high-energy string trio that wowed 10x10 audiences in 2012 with their assortment of bluegrass, jazz, folk and hybrid styles.

Time for ThreeEnter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win tickets to all ten shows on the 10x10 Arts Series this season! We will choose a winner by September 25, and notify them by email. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway