Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra (Pine Bluff, AR)


Full orchestra performing onstage

Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra and singers from the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas perform The Splendor of Broadway on March 25, 2007 in Monticello, Arkansas. Photo by Tom Barton

In the rural, agricultural setting of southeast Arkansas, a demand for classical music led to the creation of the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra (PBSO) in 1987. Growing from two subscription concerts a year to a season of four concerts with more than 70 musicians, PBSO also features guest artists as well as local choirs. In addition to its regular season, PBSO also has collaborated with area universities for concerts and has presented casual, cabaret-style concerts to attract more residents. PBSO also maintains strong educational programs, providing more than 200 instruments for local schools as well as in-school lessons for students unable to afford private lessons, sponsoring a youth orchestra, and running a summer orchestra workshop.

In FY 2006, PBSO received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support a concert featuring pieces from American musicals. Performed on March 24, 2007, in Pine Bluff, and March 25 in Monticello, The Splendor of Broadway included classic music by Broadway icons, such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Approximately 3,000 attended the concert, which attracted additional community interest by collaborating with vocalists from the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, who have performed the pieces previously as part of Arts & Science Center musical productions.

In addition to strengthening the connection between PBSO and the Arts & Sciences Center, the concert also was integral to PBSO’s efforts to build stronger community support of both PBSO and orchestral music in general.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)