The Mobile Symphony Orchestra proudly trumpeted the news Music Director Scott Speck signed a new three-year contract with the organization. Speck has been with the flagship cultural outfit since its inaugural season in 2000.

Speck also serves as music director of the West Michigan Symphony and principal conductor of the Joffrey Ballet. He was invited to the White House as music director of the Washington Ballet.

His baton has guided MSO through shows with some of the most renowned and talented musical stars in the world. Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Evelyn Glennie and Olga Kern have graced the Saenger Theatre stage during Speck’s era.

MSO’s new season begins with a Sept. 12 gala starring acclaimed and versatile soprano Renée Fleming.

Woods to depart Mobile

Painter and ballerina Lauren Woods will leave the Azalea City in August for a new position as an assistant professor of art at Auburn University. She said it was “a good fit since they were looking specifically for a figurative artist that worked in both drawing and painting.”

“I’ve been looking for a full-time position since I finished graduate school,” Woods said. “I’m happy I’ve found this but I’ve been looking for a house in Auburn and that’s kind of stressful.”

Woods earned her master’s at New York Academy of Art in 2010. She has worked as an adjunct instructor at Spring Hill College and the University of South Alabama since 2011.

The painter has also been a principal dancer with Mobile Ballet for more than 15 years and is a dance instructor at their school. She was a finalist for a 2017 Arty Award in the Performing Artist category.

Woods’ recent curatorial duties at the gallery Sway Downtown will be handed to Jessica Maples.

So if you see Woods, congratulate her, wish her well, offer to help move if you want, but mostly thank her for dedicating the majority of her life to Mobile arts.

JJP hosts Broadway-inspired fundraiser

If you like the unexpected, Joe Jefferson Playhouse (11 S. Carlen St.) fits the bill on June 30 at 7:30 p.m. Local vocal talent will run through show tunes with a twist: women will perform work normally performed by men, and vice versa.

This “Bent Broadway” fundraiser is for Prism Youth, an organization aiding LGBTQ youth and allies aged 14-18. Trained adult facilitators aid teens in confidential group settings with a therapeutic, artistic or educational focus.

Tickets cost $25, $50 for VIP. The VIPs enjoy a special pre-concert reception, reserved seating in the first three rows and extra bidding time at the silent auction.

For more information, contact Matt Kridel at 330-749-6350 or email