Celebrating the rich musical legacy of renowned composer W. Francis McBeth, Ouachita Baptist University will welcome the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) to the stage of Jones Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will feature music composed by Dr. McBeth, a longtime professor of music at Ouachita and former ASO conductor who died last year at age 78. Tickets for the tribute performance are available at www.obu.edu/boxoffice.
“There is no way to measure how much impact Dr. McBeth has had on Ouachita’s music program over the years,” said Dr. Scott Holsclaw, dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts. “It is amazing how many lives he touched both at Ouachita and throughout the world, including students, colleagues and music professionals. He is truly a Ouachita and Arkansas treasure.”
Dr. McBeth, who joined the Ouachita faculty in 1957, served as the university’s composer-in-residence, Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music and chair of the theory/composition department of the Division of Music. He also served as conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in the early 1970s. Following his death last February, the ASO approached Ouachita about presenting a concert on campus in McBeth’s memory.
With his musical influence extending far beyond Ouachita and Arkansas, McBeth performed and conducted in England, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Scotland, Australia, Canada and Japan. As Arkansas’ composer laureate, he also was the first composer laureate named in the United States.
“It’s kind of easy to take for granted someone who was here all the time and teaching, made his career here,” said Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr. “Then, to be exposed to how he’s regarded out in the rest of the world is very impressive.”
The March 8 concert will feature two pieces composed by McBeth, “Symphony No. 3” and “A Rose for Emily for String Orchestra.” Also featured are Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville Overture,” which will open the concert, and “The Firebird: Suite, 1919” by Igor Stravinsky, which will be the closing piece.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 47th season in 2012-2013 under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall and performs more than 30 concerts each year for more than 42,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series and River Rhapsodies Chamber Series. It also serves central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and brings live symphonic music education to more than 24,000 students in more than 200 schools.
Financial support from Ouachita’s Board of Trustees and other friends of the university will help keep concert admission costs minimal. “Ouachita wants to make this special concert accessible to students, school and church groups and other area residents because it is a special tribute to Dr. McBeth,” said Phil Hardin, assistant to the president for administration.
Tickets are $10 each and $5 each for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and one hour before the performance. Tickets may also be purchased with credit card by phone or online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during regular box office hours. Also, each current OBU student may receive one free ticket by presenting his or her OBU ID at the box office.
For more information about the tribute concert, contact the JPAC Box Office at (870) 245-5555.
By Rachel Gregory