Community orchestra tuning up for spring concert

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Carroll County Community Orchestra will perform its 14th annual spring concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at the Eureka Springs Auditorium.

Conductor Jim Swiggart said this year’s spring concert will feature a wide variety of music, including traditional pieces like “Danny Boy” and “Funiculi Funicula” as well as marches like “Rough Riders” and “Bravura.”

“As always we’ll play ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ ” he said, “and we’ll be playing a couple pieces that the people will not know, which are a challenge to the musicians. One of those pieces is called ‘Encanto.’ We’ll also play ‘Tijuana Brass’ which is a lot of fun.”

Swiggart continued, “We’re just trying to explore music that is good for the adults and students that are playing and that we think the audience would enjoy hearing.”

He said all proceeds from ticket sales for the concert will be used to send Carroll County students to summer band camps to enhance their music skills.

“We need to support music education,” he said, “because, first of all, it is the largest team in our school systems. Where else do you find 70 people that do something instantly at the same time? It is teamwork personified.”

He said student musicians put in a lot of hard work for their performances so that audiences can have an enjoyable moment as well.

“We want to see as many of these kids as possible continue to play the rest of their lives,” Swiggart said.

In addition to supporting music education for Carroll County students, he said the orchestra is also helping to raise enough money to help the Siloam Springs Band Program, which had two students accepted into the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Program. Swiggart said students Kerrig Kelly and Aurora Conroy, who play the French horn, both practiced for countless hours to pass the rigorous audition process and will spend six weeks this summer studying with acclaimed music faculty and conductors from all over the world.

“We want our local students to be inspired by their hard work,” Swiggart said, “so we’re hoping to help them out with expenses of attending this program.”

Local music students said they have enjoyed the experience of playing with the community orchestra and are looking forward to the spring concert.

Alpena High School sophomore Mary Bray, who plays saxophone, said her band director has been taking students to the orchestra rehearsals for quite a while.

“My sister decided to go one evening, and I decided to go, too,” she said. “I’ve liked it a lot ever since. We get to work on some new types of music.”

Berryville eighth-grader Alyssa Reed, who plays clarinet, said someone invited her to join the orchestra.

“In our middle school band, we don’t play very complex stuff,” she said, “so here I get to learn and become a better musician.”

“I’m kind of in the same boat,” said Bray. “I’m in the advanced band in the high school, but unfortunately we don’t get to play as many advanced band pieces. We have to keep them within a certain range. When I come here, I actually get to play more advanced pieces.”

Berryville senior Jared Soto, who plays clarinet, said he joined the orchestra about three years ago.

“I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first,” he said. “I got into it and started to learn it makes you a better musician. I could take the skills from all these complex pieces and apply them in class. Not only does it help me, but I can use that knowledge to help other people.”

He said he is looking forward to the spring concert.

“For me personally, I think this might be my last one for a while because I’m graduating,” Soto said. “My favorite piece is called ‘Bravura.’ It’s a lot of technical stuff, all higher register. It’s pushing me on my instrument skills.”

Bray said her favorite piece is “Tijuana Brass.”

“I just like how it sounds,” she said. “To me, every time I hear it it’s always been fun, and it reminds me of something like an old carnival.”

She said it will also be a relief to be done with the concert.

“I always have a little bit of concert stress,” Bray said. “It’s kind of scary but not that scary.”

Reed said her favorite piece is “Encanto.”

“It’s fun to play, and it’s much different than what I play in school,” she said.

Reed said she is also excited about the possibility of receiving a scholarship to attend band camp this summer.

“It was a lot of fun last year,” she said.

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