Fort Smith Symphony ready for busy week of performances

Fort Smith Symphony ready for busy week of performances

If you want to see the musical terms allegro, vivace, presto and prestissimo in action, follow the Fort Smith Symphony for a few days beginning Oct. 15. The words mean fast, faster and fastest, and that’s how the musicians will be moving through the third week of October, beginning with the mainstage concert Oct. 15 at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center.

Next up, the Earquake! series for fifth-grade students from all public and private schools in the River Valley begins Oct. 17, and the orchestra launches its new Perspectives chamber music series that same evening.

“We have been doing these concerts for about 23 years,” says John Jeter, the symphony’s music director, says of Earquake! “The idea behind them is to not only expose students to live orchestral music — most for the first time — but to also encourage them to have a creative activity in their lives.

“Fifth grade is the year during which most of the school systems recruit for orchestra, band and choir programs, so it is a good time to reach out to students,” he adds. “We encourage them to sign up for music in their schools since schools provide music ensembles free of charge. That said, we encourage students to do anything creative: dance, theater, film, creative writing, whatever they like. For students in school, a creative outlet can help with communication skills, interpersonal skills, math skills, etc. A creative mind can pay dividends for a lifetime!”

The new Perspectives series opens with music by Indigenous composers in a performance featuring the Fort Smith Symphony String Quartet — Er-Gene Kahng, concertmaster; Lori Fay, associate concertmaster; Jesse Collett, principal viola; and James Robert Bradshaw, principal cello — along with Native flutist Brad Clonch from Oklahoma City and Symphony principal clarinetist Andrew Deboer.

“The concert features wonderful music by Quapaw and Cherokee composer Louis Ballard, who is recognized as the first Native American concert composer with his ‘Fire Moon’ String Quartet,” Jeter says. “Navajo and Ute composer R. Carlos Nakai will be represented in his piece ‘Whippoorwill’ for string quartet and Native flute; Er-Gene Kahng will be performing Chickasaw composer Jared Tate’s piece for solo violin and audience called ‘Raccoon Talk’; [and] the concert will close with the Clarinet Quintet by Indigenous culture maven Jack Kilpatrick.”

But before all that, the second concert of the season spotlights “Symphonic Superheroes” — film scores from “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “X-Men,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Wonder Woman,” “Mission Impossible III,” “Captain America,” “Batman/The Dark Knight,” “Transformers,” “Black Panther” and “Iron Man.”

“The orchestra will feature an enlarged brass and percussion section, electric bass, electric guitar, synthesizer … the kitchen sink! This is simply some of the coolest music ever. The decibel level is going to be high,” Jeter says. “There are no visual elements such as film clips or special lighting. We are just focusing totally on the music, and man, is it all terrific!

“I think audience members are going to be blown away with what they hear,” Jeter enthuses about the Oct. 15 performance. “This concert is really a must attend for anyone who loves music, particularly film scores. [And] if you are a brass player or fan of brass instruments, it doesn’t get any better than this!”

Of course, after the concert, audience members are invited across to The Bakery District for an after-party featuring the Fort Smith Symphony‘s Kool Cats Jazz Quartet.

“We are very excited about this concert, and it is a great follow up to our hugely successful season opener,” Jeter concludes.



Fort Smith Symphony:

‘Symphonic Superheroes’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Oct. 15

WHERE — ArcBest Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith

COST — $25-$45




Perspectives Chamber Series:

Legendary Voices

WHEN — 7 p.m. Oct. 17

WHERE — The Propak building at 1100 Garrison Ave. in Fort Smith

COST — $10


Categories: Music