John Jeter conducts the Fort Smith Symphony

‘Louis Wayne Ballard (1931–2007) is recognised as the first Native American concert composer. I was absolutely thrilled to be able to work on this wonderful project of world premiere recordings to bring his music to life. He was an amazing multi-faceted composer, performer, percussionist, teacher and administrator who worked tirelessly not only for his art, but also to promote the indigenous culture of America. The music on this release demonstrates his amazing versatility. My sincere thanks to Naxos for their continued work bringing re-discovered music back to life.’

John Jeter

Louis Wayne Ballard – also known as “Honganozhe”, which means “Stands with Eagles” in the Quapaw language – was the first indigenous North American composer of art music, and his extensive knowledge of the music, dance and mythology of this culture informed his compositions. Ballard’s style was eclectic, embracing tonal and twelve-tone elements, and the selected pieces presented here reflect the unique variety of his achievement. This album of world premiere recordings features his third ballet, The Four Moons, which embodies a rich cache of classic dances, and the Fantasy Aborigine No. 3 “Kokopelli” with its battery of unique percussive instruments.

Listen to an extract from Devil’s Promenade
About the Artists

John Jeter has been music director and conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony since 1997. He is the recipient of the Governor’s Award for ‘Individual Artist of the State of Arkansas’, the Helen M. Thompson Award presented by the League of American Orchestras, and the Mayor’s Achievement Award for services to the City of Fort Smith. Jeter received his formal education at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music, and Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts.

Founded in 1923, the Fort Smith Symphony is the oldest orchestra in the state of Arkansas. It is a per⁠-⁠service professional ensemble drawn from musicians throughout the region, and performs a range of programmes, from film music to the classics. Committed to education, the orchestra presents numerous educational projects, including the “Kool Cats” Jazz Quartet, “Jolt™” Electric Rock Quartet, “BlueGrassLive!”, and “Earquake!™” multimedia concerts for school children.

Related releases from the Naxos American Classics series
‘These are excellent performances – possibly the best I have heard of Florence Price’s music. Conductor Jeter has a good feel for it, the Fort Smith Symphony acquits itself in stellar fashion, and the sound is natural.’
American Record Guide
‘These performances from the Fort Smith Symphony are excellent, committed, and excellently prepared under John Jeter’s direction.’
‘[Pianist Emanuele Arciuli] is the perfect choice for this repertoire and shows himself to be a consummate collaborator for lyric baritone William Sharp, whose interpretation of the three songs on the recording demonstrates deep contemplation of the texts and the complex background associated with them.’
MusicWeb International
‘Here’s an unusual disc from Naxos devoted to music by Dvořák and music inspired by him relating to his time in America. Excellent performances throughout, and text is provided for Hiawatha. This is a fascinating, unusual disk worthy of investigation.’

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