story and photos by Ruby Dean
Classical music fans filled the Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Arts Center on Saturday (Jan. 25) to hear the Fort Smith Symphony showcase the legendary work of Mozart and Beethoven at its "Fascinating Rhythms" Concert.
It was the fourth performance of the season for the Fort Smith Symphony and the first for 2014. The evening began with Mozart's overture to the opera "The Marriage of Figaro" followed by "Concerto for Horn and Orchestra No. 4 in Eb major, K. 495." The piece featured renowned musician Alex Shuhan, who serves as the Principal Horn for the Fort Smith Symphony, as well as the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra.
Shuhan has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Japan and the Middle East as a member of Rhythm and Brass. The group has seven CDs. As a member of the group, he has appeared as soloist with numerous U.S. symphony orchestras, including the Fort Smith Symphony and those in Dallas, Detroit, Milwaukee, Rochester, Syracuse, Tucson, Phoenix, Jacksonville, Oregon, Denver and Grand Rapids.
Shuhan and the Symphony's performance earned a standing ovation before intermission. During intermission, guests made their way to the lobby for drinks and light refreshments. A special donors' reception was also held to honor the symphony's generous supporters.
Some of the talent was local.
Abigail Holstein is the 2nd violin with the Fort Smith Symphony. She began playing piano at 8, but wanted to learn the violin and began taking lessons. Karen Jeter is her violin teacher. She played as a guest violinist at the concert Earquake for 6th grade students. Two months later, she joined symphony and has been playing with them for three years.
Not only is she busy practicing violin, she is a junior student in the nursing program at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. When asked where she finds the time for all that her schedule requires, Holstein replied, "I enjoy playing so I make the time.”
The show concluded with a performance of Beethoven's "Symphony No.2, in D major, op. 36". John Jeter, stated "as tame as his work seems to our 21st Century ears, it was, in it's time considered incredibly modern, dissonant and awkward. There are numerous sudden outbursts of energy and rhythm typical of Beethoven's emotionally driven style."
In its 90th 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. The 2013-2014 Fort Smith Symphony season promises not to disappoint music lovers. The season will run through April.