Culture Flash!

A big gift for Austin Lyric Opera, national honors for two of Austin's young classical musicians, and TexARTS sails up a Big River in January

Longtime arts patron James C. Armstrong has given Austin Lyric Opera $500,000 to endow the chair of the director of education for ALO and its Armstrong Community Music School. Yes, that's the Armstrong after whom the school is named. This is just his latest show of support for the opera since helping launch it as a founding member of the board in 1986. And ALO launches its 20th season this weekend with Madame Butterfly, Nov. 17-20 at Bass Concert Hall. For more information, visit www.austinlyricopera.org.

Thales Smith won the 2006 Guitar Foundation of America Youth Competition held Oct. 13-15 in Columbus, Ga. The 15-year-old Austinite, who took home a $1,000 prize, has been playing classical guitar since age 7, studying primarily with Matthew Hinsley, executive director of the Austin Classical Guitar Society. Smith was also a winner in this year's Austin Young Artists Concert.

Stephanie Chen has been named one of 16 Davidson Fellows with the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. The 17-year-old, who was also named a Young Master by the Texas Commission on the Arts and won the 14th Annual International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in 2006, will receive a $25,000 scholarship for her achievement in music.

TexARTS will mount Big River, the William Hauptman-Roger Miller adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as the follow-up to its blockbuster concert staging of The Music Man. Danny Herman will direct, and providing choreography will be recent B. Iden Payne Award-winner Robin Lewis and Rocker Verastique. The production will run Jan. 5, 8pm, and Jan. 6, 2 and 7:30pm, at the Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit www.tex-arts.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

James C. Armstrong, Austin Lyric Opera, Thales Smith, Guitar Foundation of America Youth Competition, Stephanie Chen, Davidson Institute for Talent DevelopmentTexARTS, Big River

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