4×4: John Jeter talks about Fort Smith Symphony’s season finale, ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

4×4: John Jeter talks about Fort Smith Symphony’s season finale, ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

The Fort Smith Symphony comes to the end of its centennial season April 20 by playing the score to accompany the film “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Music director John Jeter answered these questions for The Free Weekly prior to the finale.

Q. How has 100 been treating you?

A. It has been an excellent 100th anniversary season. We pulled out all the stops with some very big programming and added educational offerings. These were all extremely successful but of course, very expensive. It was so wonderful to have so many great sponsors step up to the plate to help us celebrate our 100th. An interesting note is the all 100 musicians in the orchestra are sponsored this year, which is not only a great milestone for us, but is extremely rare in the symphonic world. There were so many high points, it would be hard to pick one or two, perhaps our “Country Legends” concert, which was so much fun, and a recent performance of Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” which is such an amazing work. I’m also extremely happy that we added a bluegrass ensemble to our educational programs; they were absolutely terrific this year.

Q. When did the Fort Smith Symphony do its first movie/music concert? When did that concept become popular with orchestras?

A. We have been doing film music in concert for over 20 years, but I think our first film where we actually showed the complete movie and accompanied with the live score was Charlie Chaplin‘s “City Lights,” which we performed around 2018. At this point there are probably 30 to 40 films that are available to be performed in this format, which really isn’t many considering how many great scores are out there. Incidentally, the way these are put together is that the films are shown in their entirety on a very large screen just above the orchestra. It’s the entire film with all the dialogue and sound effects. The music has been digitally removed from the film. That’s where the live orchestra comes in. These concerts are hugely popular. Film music is where the general public and symphony orchestra intersect in this day and age.

Q. Talk about the challenges and the rewards of playing with a film?

A. Accompanying a film is fun, but it certainly is a challenge. It has a “man versus machine” element to it in that everything has to be together with the film. However, there’s a certain aspect to these live performances where there can be a little bit of artistic license here and there with how the music is shaped, as long as it still works with the images. It’s good to remember that film scores are not written to be played live, so it’s quite a workout for everyone on stage.

I have a computer screen directly in front of my music stand that shows the film in addition to all sorts of symbology, numbers, colored vertical stripes, flashing dots, etc., that tells me things like when a new scene is going to happen, when an old scene ends, a “get ready” warning, a metronome of shorts which shows the tempos, tempos for the next section, a little flash of light as each measure goes by, etc.

Q. What’s next as you prepare your season announcement?

A. Our 101st season will be announced to all of our subscribers and single ticket purchasers the week of “Star Trek,” so we are in the process of finalizing the announcement materials right now. It’s an exciting continuation of our 100th season with an excellent mix of popular, classical and film music as well as educational programs and ending with another huge film concert. Probably our largest. It’s about bringing symphonic music with a capital “S” to our community, which means music from many genres.



Fort Smith Symphony:

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

WHEN — 7 p.m. April 20

WHERE — ArcBest Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith

COST — $25-$65

INFO — fortsmithsymphony.org

BONUS — An after-party will follow at The Bakery District.

Categories: Family Friendly