The Fort Smith Symphony
John Jeter, Music Director

Established in 1923, the Fort Smith Symphony is a per-service professional orchestra comprised of musicians from Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springfield, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman, Dallas, Little Rock, New York, Indiana, and other communities. The orchestra performs classical, pops, youth and community concerts in Fort Smith and surrounding areas. In recent years, the Symphony has seen tremendous artistic and financial growth. The majority of the Symphony subscription concerts are sold out. The orchestra is also presently experiencing a large increase in attendance by young audience members and families.

The Fort Smith Symphony’s five internationally released compact discs/downloads on the Naxos Label have been listed as bestsellers on numerous websites. The first three recordings are part of Naxos’ popular “American Classics Series” and feature the music of William Grant Still, (1895-1978), who was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. With Still’s many successful compositions, he earned the nickname, “Dean of African-American composers.” The recordings have received dozens of terrific reviews and have been and continue to be broadcasted on hundreds of classical music stations around the world. Reviews have compared the Symphony’s performances to major orchestras and frequently mention the orchestra’s wonderful artistic qualities. A third recording on Naxos was made in April 2011, and completed the first-ever recorded cycle of all five William Grant Still symphonies. The compact discs/downloads include other orchestral works besides Still’s symphonies. Six of the works recorded are world premiere recordings. The Symphony recorded with Naxos again in May 2018 with symphonies by Florence Price. The Price Symphony recording was released in January of 2019 and has received numerous outstanding reviews and significant national and international press. The recording has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal and NPR to name just a few. It was briefly the number one selling classical release on Amazon and was listed on a number of “top 10 favorites” lists throughout the US. In 2022, the Symphony recorded and released the works of Louis W. Ballard (1931-2007), considered the first American Indigenous concert composer, from Oklahoma. This album is the first commercially distributed recording of Ballard’s works, completed in collaboration with The Fleisher Collection and the Ballard Family. Fort Smith Symphony recordings on Naxos are available on all major music streaming services and online music retailers.

The Miasma Film Group documentary film about the Fort Smith Symphony, Extreme Orchestra! Opening Night, was an official selection of the 2005 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas, Texas, and the North Texas Film Festival.

The Fort Smith Symphony’s educational and outreach programs include performances by the Fort Smith Symphony String Quartet for Symphony in the Schools, a history of jazz by Kool Cats, the Arkansas tradition of bluegrass with Bluegrass LIVE!, and a special concert for fifth graders, Earquake!™. Committed to the music of our time, the Symphony’s Composer in Residence program brings world-class composers and their music to Fort Smith. The Symphony is the recipient of the 2005 Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Arts in Education and the 2024 “See Think Build” award from Fort Smith Public Schools. The Symphony plays a significant role in the quality of life in the region and is a component in the region’s efforts for economic and community development.