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Construction on Walton Arts Center’s new Tyson Entrance

Construction is underway at Walton Arts Center! In April, another phase will be complete and we will re-open Starr Theater with the educational production, Digging Up Arkansas, followed by several other performances in May during the Artosphere: Arkansas Arts & Nature Festival. Following the Art of Wine Festival in June, Walton Arts Center will close its doors for the summer to complete construction in time for a Grand Re-Opening Celebration in November and to kick off our 25th Anniversary Season. Things are getting busy, but we are so excited for what is to come!

Walton Arts Center construction on Starr Theater

This spring, the new Bill & LeAnn Underwood Family Plaza will open and showcase public art in a park-like setting of natural beauty. A hammered copper sculpture water feature will be central to the space, surrounded by engraved, personalized bricks as well as commemorative bricks celebrating artists who have performed on our stage since we opened our doors in 1992. Bricks and pavers from the original building will be reinstalled in the Rose Garden to continue the legacy of our original donors. Newly engraved bricks located in the Underwood Family Plaza will re-affirm our community’s commitment to the arts, paving the way for the next 25 years of great arts and entertainment in Northwest Arkansas.

Personalized Brick and Artist Commemorative Bricks will be installed in the new Bill and LeAnn Underwood Family Plaza

We cannot complete the expansion without the help of our dedicated patrons, like you, and now is the time to act! In order to reserve your inscribed brick to be installed in time for the opening of the new Underwood Family Plaza this spring, we need all commitments by March 15th. Your charitable contribution to the expansion and renovation of Walton Arts Center will memorialize your loved ones for generations to come. What better way to show your support of the arts than by engraving your name at Walton Arts Center? Help us celebrate the new building and 25 years of world class entertainment in Northwest Arkansas by going to our expansion webpage to see the virtual tour and make your fully tax deductible commitment today!

Together, we’re building a better place to live.

To learn more about giving opportunities for the expansion at Walton Arts Center, contact the Development Office at 479.571.2759 or


Bring Your Shoes to WAC during Kinky Boots!

Together with KINKY BOOTS, we're encouraging local families to bring their new or gently used boots, tennis shoes and sturdy shoes for men, women and children when they come to see KINKY BOOTS on January 19-24. These donations go directly to the local non-profit organization Peace at Home Family Shelter. Peace at Home Family Shelter empowers victims of domestic violence to survive and thrive by nurturing their self-determination and courage; and promotes healthy relationships and communities through education, outreach and advocacy.

Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from a gentlemen's shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory's future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

The Peace at Home Family Shelter was founded in 1977 and was the first shelter in Arkansas to provide shelter and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence. The program started in a small house in Fayetteville and is now providing services in a new Donald W. Reynolds building.

Shoe donations are being accepted in advance of the show at our Box Office located in Nadine Baum Studios and prior to every performance.

KINKY BOOTS starts Tuesday, Jan. 19 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 24! Tickets range from $36 to $78 and are available by calling 479.443.5600 or visiting our website here. For groups of 10 or more, contact the group sales department at 479.571.2719.


Pianist Simone Dinnerstein On Sharing Her Love of Bach


Simone Dinnerstein began studying the piano later in life than most concert pianists. She dropped out of Julliard for a while. And she struggled for recognition. Then she scraped together the funds to record Bach’s Goldberg Variations – and her career took off. The album ranked number one on the U.S. Billboard Classical Music chart its first week out. Three subsequent solo albums also topped the charts. 

Simone Dinnerstein sat down to talk with us about her career and why she’s passionate about sharing her love of Bach...

Bach figures prominently into your repertoire. Why do you find yourself drawn to his work? 

Bach's music combines all of the elements that I feel drawn to in art - intellect, craft and architecture combined with poetry and humanity.

Does your playing of pieces like the Goldberg Variations change from show to show?

Definitely. The overall approach is pretty consistent but the change of instrument and acoustics as well as my own state of being on the night and the feeling from the audience all contribute to the experience being new each time.

Here's a short clip of Simone practicing the Goldberg Variations 16-17:


Does this passion run in your family?

My parents are real role models to me. My father is an amazing artist and I grew up surrounded by his work and visiting museums with him. In fact, one of his most significant paintings, The Fulbright Triptych, is currently on exhibit here at the University! My mother is an early childhood education specialist, completely committed to children and creating the ultimate child-centered learning environments. Both of my parents are idealists and not very practical people!

Who are some of your favorite non-classical artists?

Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Nick Drake

Who are some of your favorite contemporary composers?

Philip Lasser, George Crumb, Philip Glass

Pick 5 words—that start with the letter ‘d’—to describe your music.

Delicate, Daring, Deep, Decisive, Dreamy

What has been your most exciting performance to date?

It's hard to pick just one, but possibly performing Mozart K467 with the Vienna Symphony at the Weiner Konzerthaus. Playing Mozart there felt unreal.

Whom do you define as a visionary?

I recently read “The Book of Strange New Things,” a novel by Michel Faber.  It was a very powerful book about being human and I would describe his writing as visionary.

What is the best advice that you have been given?

Many years ago, Mitsuko Uchida told me to get out of the practice room and start making money with my music. I think that – other than the real, practical implications of that – she meant to own my interpretations and go out into the world with them.

What do you hope audiences take away from your performances?

I hope that the music opens up something inside, that it makes sense of things in life that only music can approach.

Don't miss Simone Dinnerstein on Friday, Jan. 8 at 8pm. Tickets are only $10! For a chance to meet the artist, join us for the Creative Converstaion with Simone before the show at 7pm as well as the After Party at Cork & Keg immediately following the show with light hors d’oeuvres as well as a speciality cocktail, "Bach to the Future,” and live entertainment provided by Rachel Billingsly.

One lucky ticket holder will WIN a $25 bar tab!


Tis the Season!

If you haven’t visited Walton Arts Center for our Hard Hat Season, we hope that you can join us for one of our many holiday and family-friendly shows. From Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Polar Express to Home Free, Jim Brickman and the Sonos Handbell Ensemble - there’s something everyone can enjoy this holiday season!

We hope you can stop by our Holiday Gift Market in the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery. Sponsored by Walton Arts Center’s resident company Community Creative Center, the market is the perfect place to buy local art, crafts and gifts items created by some of Northwest Arkansas’ most talented artists this holiday season. Proceeds not only benefit local artists, but also support Walton Arts Center and the Community Creative Center! While in the gallery, please take the time to watch the virtual tour and relax before a show. 

You can also play a pART in Walton Arts Center’s expansion and renovation this holiday season by putting your loved one’s name on a brick or chair, giving them a gift that can be remembered for years to come. Your commemorative gift will let your loved ones know that your support in their honor is helping us build a better place to live. To learn more, visit


Starrlight Jazz Club Series presents Pat Martino Trio 

  "The guitar is of no great importance to me," Martino muses. "The people it brings to me are what matter. They are what I'm extremely grateful for, because they are alive. The guitar is just an apparatus."

In 1980, Pat Martino suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. At the time, he was one of the most celebrated guitarists in jazz. After his operations, he could remember almost nothing; he barely recognized his parents and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed... naked."

In the following months, Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings and with the help of computer technology, Martino managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became "an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest." Since playing his first notes while still in his pre-teenage years, Martino has been recognized as one of the most exciting and virtuosic guitarists in jazz.

With a distinctive, fat sound and gut-wrenching performances, he represents the best – not just in jazz, but in music. He embodies thoughtful energy and soul.

Born in Philadelphia in 1944, Martino was first exposed to jazz through his father, Carmen "Mickey" Azzara, who sang in local clubs and briefly studied guitar with Eddie Lang. He took Martino to all the city's hot-spots to hear and meet Wes Montgomery and other musical giants. Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the "soul jazz" played by Willis “Gatortail” Jackson and others. He previously had heard all of the so called “white” jazz. “I’d never heard that part of our culture," he remembers, until the Montgomery Brothers.

An icon even before his eighteenth birthday, Martino was signed as a leader for Prestige Records when he was 20. His seminal albums from this period include classics like Strings!, Desperado, El Hombre and Baiyina (The Clear Evidence), one of jazz's first successful ventures into psychedelia. In 1976, while performing internationally with his fusion group “Joyous Lake,” Martino began experiencing seizures, which were eventually diagnosed as AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation), a condition he was born with. After surgery and recovery, he resumed his career when he appeared in 1987 in New York, a gig that was released on a CD with an appropriate name, The Return.

One of Martino's finest original compositions, first heard on Pat Martino Live!:

Today, Martino lives in Philadelphia and continues to grow as a musician. As the New York Times noted, "Mr. Martino is back and he is plotting new musical directions, adding more layers to his myth." His experiments with guitar synthesizers, which begun during his rehabilitation, are taking him in the direction of orchestral arrangements and they promise groundbreaking possibilities.

Our very own, Robert Ginsburg, sat down with Pat Martino to chat about his career, relearning the guitar and his current musical endeavors. Listen HERE!

Pat Martino Trio performs at WAC Friday, Dec. 4 at 7pm & 9pm. 

Tickets are $15-30 and can be purchased here.