Friday, March 4, 2011

'The Naxos Sessions' of Fort Smith Symphony: William Grant Still's 'Wood Notes' and Symphonies 2 & 3, April 16

[William Grant Still: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5; Poem for Orchestra; Fort Smith Symphony; John Jeter, Conductor; Naxos 8.559603 (2009)]

The Naxos Sessions
The Music of William Grant Still
Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 7:30 P.M.
Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Art Center


Beyond the Score
The Music of William Grant Still

Still: Symphony No. 2 in G minor


Still: Wood Notes

Still: Symphony No. 3, The Sunday Symphony

Yesterday AfriClassical posted: “'Fort Smith Symphony Presents The Music of William Grant Still' April 15 & 16; Judith Anne Still is Host.” Judith Anne Still commented on the post by email: “Thanks, Bill--I will be honored to join Fort Smith in April to give my presentation.” We knew Maestro John Jeter from an interview on the 2009 release of William Grant Still's Symphonies 4 and 5, along with Poem for Orchestra, on Naxos 8.559603. We approached Maestro Jeter about a brief interview, and he graciously made time for us that very evening.

AfriClassical asked John Jeter if the program title “The Naxos Sessions” refers to public performances of works in advance of recordings. He said that is exactly what they are. On Saturday, April 16, 2011 the Fort Smith Symphony will perform three works of William Grant Still: Symphony No. 2 (Song of a New Race) in G Minor; Symphony No. 3 (The Sunday Symphony); and Wood Notes. Naxos will record them on Sunday and Monday.

Maestro Jeter said each of the symphonies had been recorded once many years ago, but it is believed that the recording of Wood Notes will be a world premiere. We replied “You guys certainly like to tread where few have trod before!” John Jeter agreed, and noted that readers can find a complete outline of the schedule for “The Naxos Sessions” at: Maestro Jeter confirmed that the Naxos American Classics series would soon have the very first complete set of all 5 symphonic recordings of William Grant Still.

We asked John Jeter about this statement in the Lincoln Echo: “Members of the African American community are cordially invited to be the guests of the Symphony for all activities.” He explained that the Symphony maintains a vigorous outreach to make all segments of the community feel welcomed. In fact, its publicity efforts include 5,000 commercials each year, with great emphasis on graphics as well a sound.

Judith Anne Still is holding a community forum on “Equality Achieved Through Music” at noon on Friday, April 15 at the Fort Smith Public Library's Windsor Branch. John Jeter explained that people who attend the forum will have the opportunity to receive vouchers which can be exchanged for tickets to the Saturday concert. This is not easy to do, he noted, because the orchestra always has a full house, but special arrangements have been made to allocate tickets for people who attend the forum.

It is unknown when the new recording will be released, the conductor said. The 2009 CD, Naxos 8.559603, was released by Naxos on an expedited schedule to coincide with a William Grant Still Festival that year. The time span for this disc could be several months or even a year, given the huge number of recordings Naxos is now making, Maestro Jeter said. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is found.]

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