New diversity plan launched with Spanish-inspired concert

Dena Kay Jones, a member of the music faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso, performed a solo piano recital at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Friday, Oct. 7, in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in the Fine Arts Building.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock launched its Diversity and Inclusion Initiative with a recital by renowned pianist Dr. Dena Kay Jones Friday, Oct. 7. 

The initiative is focused on building a positive and welcoming culture for everyone on UALR’s campus.

UALR Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Zulma Toro opened the event with an affirmation for the audience.

“We want diversity and inclusion at UALR to inspire you. We want you to be free to be and express yourself like musicians do through their music,” Toro said.

Jones, a faculty member in the music department of the University of Texas at El Paso, performed works by composers Joaquin Rodrigo, Enrique Granados, and Isaac Albéniz.

During the recital, titled, “Images of Spain,” historical images and English and Spanish captions accompanied each composition, providing visual interpretations of songs like “A l’ombre de Torre Bermeja” (The Shadow of the Tower Bermeja) and the famous “Danza ritual del Fuego” (Dance of Fire).

Jones, a native of Illinois, is a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist who specializes in Spanish piano music of the 20th century and has performed throughout the United States, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Canada.

“The artist we welcome here tonight is a great example of someone who has embraced the culture and language of others,” Toro said. “When you take the time to embrace someone who is different from you, you open yourself up to a wide range of possibilities, ideas, and values.”

UALR boasts one of the most diverse student population in any four-year institution in Arkansas. According to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education 2011-2015 enrollment report, 22 percent of UALR students are African American, while 6 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Dr. Toro insists diversity and inclusion must go beyond numbers.

“At UALR, we value and respect every individual regardless of his or her accent, dialect, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation,” she said.

The recital was hosted by the UALR Department of Music under the direction of Dr. Linda Holzer and sponsored by the UALR Office of the Provost.

For more information, visit the UALR Diversity and Inclusion Plan website.

In the upper right photo, Dena Kay Jones, a member of the music faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso, performed a solo piano recital at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Friday, Oct. 7, in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in the Fine Arts Building.

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