The 2012-2013 Fort Smith Symphony season got underway Saturday (Sept. 29) with the presentation of “Sounds of the Universe.” The sold-out season opener featured special guest performances and the classical sounds of Beethoven, Mozart and Gustav Holst.
Held at the Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Arts Center in downtown Fort Smith, the concert led off with Beethoven’s Overture to the play Egmont, op. 84. Veteran conductor John Jeter took the podium and with the wave of his wand, guided the musicians through the moving opening number. The concert marked the beginning of Jeter’s 17th year as director of the Fort Smith Symphony.
Following Beethoven’s overture, award-winning pianist Charlie Albright wowed the audience with his performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. K. 467. Nationally recognized as one of the country’s most talented young musicians, Albright has performed on prestigious stages, including the Kennedy Center, and with famous musicians such as renowned cellist Yo-Yo Man.
Albright and the symphony earned a standing ovation for their collaboration. The audience’s overwhelming response prompted Albright to give a brief encore performance prior to intermission.
During intermission guests made their way to center’s lobby for drinks and light refreshments before returning to the auditorium. A special donors reception was also held to honor the symphony’s generous supporters.
The second half of the program featured Holst’s famous piece, The Planets, op. 32. Composed in 1916, The Planets is a dramatic composition that portrays the planets as mesmerizing and powerful forces in the universe.
For the final act of The Planets, The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Women’s Choir took the stage alongside symphony members. The group, directed by Dr. Rager Moore II, performed with the symphony during Neptune, the Mystic.
In its 89th season, the Fort Smith Symphony is the oldest symphony in Arkansas. It is comprised of more than 100 professional musicians who travel from eight states for rehearsals and concerts.
“Sounds of the Universe” also marked the beginning of a unique partnership between the symphony and Sparks Health System. The two have joined forces to demonstrate the importance of music therapy and to help promote the healing power of music.
The 2012-2013 Fort Smith Symphony season promises not to disappoint music lovers. Upcoming concerts will feature celebrated musicians and ensembles from around the country, and will highlight the impressive talents of the symphony members. The season will run through April.