Music: The Universal Language

This year’s series consists of seven diverse and engaging concerts and speakers that will explore the history, influences and genres of music — what Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called the universal language of mankind. We invite you to join us this year on campus for this exciting lineup of entertaining and enriching events.

2017-2018 Schedule



Matt Maher
Eight-time Grammy nominee Matt Maher has become a staple in the artistic and song-writing community. The Canadian-born contemporary Christian music artist, songwriter, and worship leader has garnered multiple radio successes writing and recording songs such as “Lord, I Need You,” “Hold Us Together,” “Christ Is Risen,” “Because He Lives (Amen)” and “Your Grace Is Enough.” In 2015, Maher was awarded Dove Awards for Songwriter of the Year and Worship Song of the Year. He has penned songs recorded by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Third Day, Matt Redman, Hillsong, Casting Crowns, Jesus Culture, and Bethel among others. He has written and produced eight solo albums to date. Three of his albums have reached the Top 25 Christian Albums Billboard chart and four of his singles have reached the Top 25 Christian Songs chart. Maher has written or co-written five No. 1 radio singles. In a 2013 career highlight, he performed in Rio de Janeiro before Pope Francis and a crowd of three million people. In 2015, Maher was awarded his first RIAA Gold certification for “Lord, I Need You.” His latest release in 2015, “Saints and Sinners,” is a call for social justice rooted in the work of historic faith leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Dan GellertMaster fiddler and banjo player Dan Gellert has been called a “legend in the field of old time American music” by Fiddler Magazine. Born in 1949 in New York, Gellert was inspired to learn more about roots music during the folk revival of the 1960s. He learned to play banjo, guitar, fiddle and he also sings many of the old and traditional songs and tunes. Fiddler Magazine described Gellert’s fiddling as “bluesy and rhythmic and without regard for modern standards of pitch and tone. In other words, he follows his muse, which makes his music stand alone in a world of timid imitators. Not for the faint of heart, Gellert is a commanding and uncompromising talent.” Gellert is a storehouse of knowledge about traditional fiddle and banjo music from rural American players and early commercial recording artists of the 1920s and 30s. He has played and recorded with numerous musicians over the years, including a recording of fiddle and banjo duets with his longtime friend, Brad Leftwich. Gellert released a solo recording in 2004, which was received with much acclaim from folk and American roots music enthusiasts.

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Chie Ishii
Chie Ishii is a 1987 graduate of University of the Ozarks who has gained international fame as a pianist, composer, bass player and author. Born in Tokyo, Japan, she began playing the piano at the age of 4 and performed her first public concert at age 6. At the age of 12, she fell in love with the music of Frederic Chopin. At the same time, she was fascinated by rock music and played keyboard in many different rock bands in Japan. She left Japan at the age of 19 to study music at Ozarks before continuing her education at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and Brevard Music School in North Carolina. In 1997, Ishii was the first audio-DVD recording artist in Europe. These recordings, “Berlin Affair 1, 2 & 3,” were introduced at the International Consumer Electronic Show in Berlin. She has released five solo albums with the works of Chopin and of her own, and one album with classical works. In 2003 she formed her own rock band, “Breathless.” She is also a piano teacher and an author of music books. Ishii is dedicating her concert, titled “Berlin Affair,” to former U of O President and First Lady Dr. Fritz and Juanita Ehren, who served as her host parents during her four years at Ozarks.

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Lesson and Carols
The University of the Ozarks choral ensembles will collaborate with musicians from the Conway Symphony Orchestra to present the University’s time-honored Christmas tradition, A Service of Lessons and Carols. Directed by U of O Choral Director Dr. Jonathan Ledger, the event will feature the University Chamber Singers and Chapel Choir, accompanied by orchestra members performing selected movements from Handel’s Messiah as well as other traditional hymns. There also will be scripture readings by members of the University community. The Conway Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Israel Getzov, launches its 32nd season this year. With a full season of six concerts, outreach ensembles, a mix of international and local guest artists, and performances ranging from classical to Christmas, they continue to provide high-quality, orchestral music, plus a wide array of educational programming, to the Central Arkansas community.

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Bon AppetitBon Appétit! is a one-act, one-woman opera about famed chef Julia Child, with music by American composer Lee Hoiby (1926-2011). Featuring mezzo-soprano Dr. Susan Fleming and pianist Jefferey Watson, the libretto is based on transcripts of two episodes of Child’s television show, “The French Chef,” and focuses on the flamboyant master chef making a classic French chocolate cake — Le Gâteau au Chocolat L’Éminence Brune. A professor of voice at the School of Music at the University of Alabama, Fleming maintains an active and varied career and has been acclaimed for her impeccable and communicative musicianship, as well as the clarity and beauty of her voice. She has been featured on concerts in Switzerland, Italy, Japan, England, and Romania, as well as throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic regions in the United States. Watson, who is on the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music, has appeared as a soloist with the Honduran National Symphony, the Pan American Symphony, the Rosario (Argentina) Chamber Orchestra, the Alexandria Symphony and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra with the Kirov Ballet.

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Jack Hamilton
Jack Hamilton is assistant professor of American Studies and Media Studies at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 2014. He received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University in 2013 and spent the 2013-14 academic year as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture. His first book, “Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination,” was published by Harvard University Press in fall of 2016. He is also the pop critic for Slate magazine, where he writes about music, sports, and other areas of culture. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, National Public Radio, ESPN, Transition, L.A. Review of
Books, and many other venues. He is currently working on a book about music and technology since 1970.

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Kenny Wayne
Monster keyboardist and soulful singer Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne is a veteran blues and boogie piano player and a three-time Juno Award nominee, including a win for his album titled, “Let it Loose.” With his colorful multi-hued French custom-tailored stage suits, Wayne is a throwback to the golden age of classic rhythm and blues. His music ranges from boogiewoogie to New Orleans-fueled R&B, from blues and jazz to goodtime rock ‘n roll. Hailed as “an artist bringing the piano back to the front ranks of contemporary blues”, multiple-award winning blues and jazz pianist Wayne is called “Blues Boss” for a reason. His musical career began as a child prodigy in the late 1950s and has continued to flourish for more than 60 years with Wayne at the forefront of modern day blues piano practitioners. Born in Spokane, Washington, raised in New Orleans, and now based in British Columbia, Wayne has built a stellar reputation within Canada and abroad for his lively attire and energetic concert performances. He released his first solo album, “Alive & Loose,” on Brouhaha Records Group in 1995.

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Established in 1992, the Walton Arts & Ideas Series is made possible through an endowment by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.



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