For a family, Saturday and Sunday afternoons are precious. It is rare that there is a weekend that’s not pre-scheduled months in advance with sports, birthday parties, or other commitments. You only add to the calendar when it betters the children, fosters family ties, and is important. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Pops concerts do all of these, plus it is really fun! This weekend we took the whole clan downtown to the beautifully-remodeled Robinson Center to see ASO present, “A Tribute to Ella: Songs from Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song”.
Granted, the initial idea of getting 11 and 13 year old boys dressed, in the car, downtown, and excited about going to the symphony to see vintage music can be daunting, but the ASO changes the way everything is presented. The concerts are blue-jean-casual, comfortable, and entertaining. It was a beautiful spring afternoon and I was able to pull in front of Robinson and drop the family off in the convenient drop off area and quickly find free parking less a couple blocks away. Once inside, the atmosphere was exciting. The new Robinson is so beautiful and people were moving all about getting to their seats, taking photos, meeting and greeting old and new friends, and ordering drinks. That’s right, the concession stand has all kind of drinks on hand to keep you from getting parched during the show.
Knowing very little about Ella Fitzgerald, I was excited for the concert from a learning perspective. My wife, on the other hand, is a big fan and was already singing the songs in the car. The boys, who both love music in general, were excited to see the performance as well, but unsure exactly what they would see and hear. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra played the songs and three unbelievably talented, Broadway stars sang the songs and hosted. Not only did we get to hear the music, they explained some of the history and back-stories behind the songs. It was highly entertaining and informative. Featuring three amazing singers, Capathia Jenkins, Aisha de Haas, and Nikki Renée Daniels, the only thing bigger than their personalities were their voices. The music was good, but these women were so excited about and honored to be singing the songs that it made it truly a complete package. The program included many of Ella’s greatest hits from the American Songbook, including, It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing, How High The Moon, I Got Rhythm, Summertime, A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Blue Skies, Someone To Watch Over Me, Bewitched, and many more.
We are so lucky to have such a talent in The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and that talent attracts other talents like A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Broadway singers. Please be sure to check out the next Pops concert, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” May 11th and 12. It will surely be an event worthy of your calendar.