Dr. Bevan Keating has recently been named as the Artistic Director of Wildwood Park for the Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization located in west Little Rock on Denny Road. Keating draws upon a wealth of experience as a performer, educator, and artistic director to guide Wildwood’s contribution to the arts community here in Arkansas. Wildwood is expanding its innovative music and arts education programs, as well as fostering development of Wildwood’s offerings in the Park’s 625-seat Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre, the Art in the Park visual arts exhibitions, and series of concerts, events and festivals.
Among his first projects as Wildwood’s Artistic Director is the upcoming LANTERNS! Festival, February 10th through 12th. Wildwood’s annual deep-winter festival celebrates the first full moon of the lunar new year. Held over three magical evenings, guests are transported to faraway lands and times as they stroll through the beautifully lit pathways of Wildwood’s gardens. Cultural vistas feature live entertainment, food, drink, games and more throughout the Park’s Butler Arboretum and inside the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre.
Hailing from London, Ontario, Keating naturally selected Canada as one of the six vistas for this year’s festival, which also includes the Caribbean Islands, China, France, America’s Wild West, and the Moon. Located at Wildwood’s iconic Butler Gazebo next to Swan Lake, the Canadian vista will be the first stop for guests entering the Park’s east gate and the launch site for floating luminaries that guests launch along with their wishes for the lunar year, which is the Chinese Year of the Fire Rooster. Keating will personally lead the vista where guests will have opportunities for karaoke with tunes by some of Canada’s most famous singers (Celine Dion and Justin Bieber among them). Maple syrup will surely play a role in the cuisine, along with beverages preferred by our neighbors up north.
Prior to accepting the position of Artistic Director of Wildwood Park for the Arts, Dr. Keating collaborated with Wildwood on several stage productions and provided artistic leadership for the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA). In 2015, Dr. Keating directed The Bremen Town Musicians as part of Wildwood’s Art to Go! statewide educational touring program to introduce youth across Arkansas to opera and the dramatic arts. He also served as the Director of Vocal Programming for the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) in 2015 and as Artistic Director for WAMA in 2016. The Wildwood Academy of Music and the Arts is a rapidly growing summer music academy for student musicians of all ages and abilities. Approaching its fourth year, WAMA is attracting some of the most talented youth in Arkansas, and students during the program’s first years have gone on to study music at the university level.
The Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) provides youth in Arkansas access to the highest standards in music and arts education. With primary emphasis on instrumental and vocal music, WAMA also provides opportunities to explore multiple artistic genres, from visual and culinary arts to literary arts and musical theatre. Through orchestral, large and small ensemble, and solo experiences, students receive training and performance opportunities supported by professional faculty. Public performances and master classes by internationally renowned faculty and guest artists are held throughout June and July.
Dr. Keating has directed several productions recently in Wildwood’s Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre, including Dracula: Unearthed (2015), The Kristin Lewis Opera Gala (2015), and The Music Man (2016). He will also direct and conduct Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, onstage in Wildwood’s Cabe Theatre March 31 – April 2 this spring.
These productions are produced in partnership with Praeclara, of which Dr. Keating is also the Artistic Director. Praeclara is a multidisciplinary performing arts company supported by Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock where Dr. Keating serves as Director of Music. Praeclara specializes in creating unique performances of both original scripts and classical masterworks that challenge Arkansas audiences through innovative staging and adaptations of familiar works; works such as Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Dido & Aeneas, but also introducing new stories and interpretations as in the original script of Dracula: Unearthed.
Dr. Keating is responsible for the thriving music programs at Second Presbyterian Church; including the Adult, Youth, and Children’s Choirs, a chamber ensemble, the annual youth musical and several hand bell and instrumental ensembles. The Adult Choir and Chamber Ensembles have participated in high profile local performances and have toured internationally in Canada, the UK and Ireland, Austria, Germany, and Hungary. As part of Second Presbyterian Church’s and Praeclara’s commitment to bringing excellent music to the community, Dr. Keating also facilitates the performances of the Little Rock Wind Symphony and the River City Men’s Chorus at Second Presbyterian.
As director of the choral and voice department at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Dr. Keating leads the UALR Concert Choirs, the elite UALR Chamber Chorus, and Women’s Chorus, as well as the UALR Community Chorus. He also teaches a rigorous series of coursework for aspiring orchestral and choral conductors. He serves as a mentor and teacher for students studying both performance and music education, and his students have gone on to complete post-graduate degrees in music; perform and teach professionally; and to serve as musicians for congregations across the U.S.
Keating is Wildwood’s third artistic director of the Park, following Dr. Ann Chotard, the founding artistic director, and Cliff Fannin Baker, who also served as CEO. Ms. Leslie Golden was named Executive Director in late 2012, having served as Managing Director for several years with Mr. Baker. For more information about Wildwood Park for the Arts, visit wildwoodpark.org.