Carroll County Community Orchestra to perform Sunday
For the first time since 2019, the Carroll County Community Orchestra will perform on Sunday, Dec. 5. The orchestra’s annual Christmas concert, canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Bobcat Arena in Berryville.
The orchestra includes musicians from Alpena, Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest. Rehearsals take place every Monday evening in the Berryville High School band room, featuring musicians of all ages and experience levels. Conductor Jim Swiggart said the musicians are looking forward to performing for the community, especially during the holiday season.
“I’m so excited that we’re getting the musicians together again,” Swiggart said. “We have adults who drive to our rehearsals from as far as Bella Vista. Everybody’s champing at the bit to get together and perform for the community.”
Swiggart remembered when rehearsals started at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, saying everyone was six feet apart. After marching band season ended, Swiggart said, the musicians could rehearse much closer together.
“When you’re making music, you need to hear the person next to you to make sure all your parts really fit together. That’s tough when you’re spread out,” Swiggart said. “It’s been a very interesting process seeing people come back together. The students have just blossomed, and that’s a great feeling.”
The orchestra will perform holiday and patriotic pieces, including the Star-Spangled Banner, Men of Ohio March, Forgotten Heroes, Dusty Trombone and a Christmas medley. Forgotten Heroes is his favorite, Swiggart said, because it honors those who served and continue to serve our country in the military.
“There aren’t any melodies you haven’t heard before, but when you close your eyes and think about how fortunate we are to have people who step up and do something for our country … your emotions come to the front,” Swiggart said. “It’s very emotional.”
The performance is an annual fundraiser for local music students, helping them attend university summer music camps. Swiggart said the camps enrich local band programs and change students’ lives. Swiggart described how attending summer music camp helped Berryville graduate Jessie Hernandez, now a freshman at Arkansas Tech University, earn the honor of playing on the university’s snare drum line.
“That’s the hardest thing you can try out for, and Jessie made it,” Swiggart said. “He’s one of their star musicians as a freshman. How did he get there? Somebody had to open the door for him. Our program is very important for local students.”
Everyone should come to the Christmas concert, Swiggart said, for many reasons: It benefits local students, it enriches local band programs and it’s a joy for the ears.
“We’re not only helping students find their path musically, but we’re bringing people back into a room and creating joy we haven’t heard in quite a while,” Swiggart said. “It’s just a great experience to see everyone coming together in the community.”
The doors open at 2:30 p.m. and tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students. If you’d like to donate to the program, contact Swiggart by emailing JHSwiggart@gmail.com or calling 478-981-2659.