Community orchestra tunes up for spring concert

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Students raise their instruments high in the air as they posed for a group photo at a recent rehearsal of the Carroll County Community Orchestra. The orchestra will present its spring concert on Sunday, April 22, at the Eureka Springs Auditorium
Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News

The Carroll County Community Orchestra will perform its 13th annual spring concert Sunday, April 22, at the Eureka Springs Auditorium.

Arkansas Musicworks Brass Band will play the pre-show at 2:30 p.m., and the community orchestra will play its spring concert at 3 p.m.

Conductor Jim Swiggart said this year’s spring concert will feature the following pieces: “Star Spangled Banner,” “Rough Riders March,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Allerseelen,” “The Little Country Band,” “Birth of the Blues,” “Toccata for Band,” “Arabian Dances,” “The Phantom of the Opera Medley,” “At a Dixieland Funeral” and “Americans We.”

Swiggart said the orchestra’s wide variety of literature reflects the equally wide variety of musicians in the orchestra. The group features everyone from professional musicians to band students, he said, including students from Alpena, Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest schools.

Trumpet player Janie Walker said she and her husband, Forrest, come over from Holiday Island to play in the community orchestra.

“We moved here about three years ago from Illinois,” she said. “I had played with an orchestra there, so when we moved here I started looking around and wanted to get involved with something. I found this band and joined.”

Walker continued, “Then my husband, who plays the tuba, joined as well. Forrest hadn’t played since high school, so he was able to start playing again. The group is really good. We’ve got retired band directors, adult musicians and a lot of local band kids. It’s a nice mix.”

Berryville eighth-grader Brody Perkins plays tuba in the orchestra. He said he first joined the group because the community orchestra offers scholarships for young musicians.

“It’s also nice to be playing so many different pieces of music,” Perkins said. “In school, we play a symphony, which is five pieces or movements. Here, we’re playing 12 different pieces, which gives you a lot more experience. It also gives you a lot of different kinds of music, like jazz and marches.”

He said his favorite piece in the spring concert is “The Little Country Band” because he likes how fast the tempo is and the way it’s written.

Berryville junior Sarah Davis said she joined the orchestra to get more practice playing the tuba, which is not her original instrument.

“I didn’t start out in beginning band playing the tuba, so I wanted to get more experience playing it,” she said. “I played trumpet in beginning band.”

Davis said her favorite piece in the spring concert is “Allerseelen” because it has a spooky sound.

Gray Squires of Berryville plays double bass in the orchestra. He said he enjoys getting together with people of all different ages and skill levels to play music.

“I’m learning from people who are better than me, and hopefully people are learning from me, too,” he said. “Anybody can come and play. There are no tryouts for chairs, so there’s no pressure.”

Swiggart said seeing musicians from so many walks of life assemble into a single ensemble is his favorite part of working with the community orchestra.

“It’s giving kids a chance to expand their music education and giving adults, who have played all their life, a chance to get back into an ensemble,” he said.

Swiggart said the orchestra is also excited to be pairing up with Arkansas Musicworks Brass Band for their spring concert.

“They are a competitive band, and they’ve already won some honors in the United States,” he said. “Their goal is to go to Ireland and compete for a world title. They’re good musicians.”

Swiggart said tickets to the concert on April 22 will be $10 for adults and $5 for students. All proceeds are used to send Carroll County students to summer band camps to enhance their music skills, he said.

The community orchestra is also looking for local businesses, organizations and individuals to sponsor the concert, Swiggart said. He said sponsors will be listed in the concert program as supporters of the arts. Anyone interested in sponsoring the concert can contact Gray Squires at 870-423-6115 or or Jim Swiggart at 479-981-2659 or by Wednesday, April 18.

“We are looking for support from the community because the orchestra’s goal is to raise money for music education and send these local students to band camps,” Swiggart said. “We hope you can attend and witness students receiving their scholarships during the intermission.”

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