The Fort Sherman Symphonette, barely half a year old, is preparing to take its audience back to the late 19th century with a little Dvorak, a little Strauss and a new composition based on themes from military bugle calls.
The 50-member community orchestra, conducted by music director and historian Robert Singletary, will perform Wednesday night in a concert that will bring to a close the month- long Fort Sherman Days celebration in Coeur d’Alene.
Selections for Wednesday’s concert will reflect life at the military fort, established in 1878 at what is now the North Idaho College campus. First called Fort Coeur d’Alene, it helped establish the city and provided early culture and entertainment with community concerts and dances. The fort was deactivated in 1898.
The all-volunteer group, sponsored by the Fort Sherman Historical Society, organized last fall and gave its first performance in December. The orchestra is dedicated to performing music that has broad audience appeal, Singletary said.
On Wednesday night, in its second public appearance, the orchestra will perform the fourth movement from Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, “Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla” by Mikhail Glinka, the L’Arlésienne suites composed by Georges Bizet, and “Wein, Weib und Gesang (Wine, Women and Song)” and the “Trisch-Tratsch Polka,” both by Johann Strauss.
The orchestra will also perform the world premiere of “Fort Sherman Suite” by local composer Gary Edwards. Incorporating bugle calls, the piece is intended to evoke the life of a soldier at Fort Sherman in the 1880s.
“It will really depict the early days of the fort,” said Janet Haakenson, who plays violin. “You can really picture what is going on.”
Haakenson is one of five members of her family in the Fort Sherman Symphonette. Her husband, Robert, a former Kootenai County commissioner, plays trumpet. Their grown children also play – Eric on tuba, Allisa Chipman on cello and Kristina Lallatin on violin.
“Our goal is to make good music to the best of our ability while at the same time enjoying camaraderie and fellowship with each other,” Janet Haakenson said. “It’s truly a musical family across many families. We feel a close kinship with each other.”
Roughly a quarter of the orchestra is made up of family groups, Singletary said, including one that spans three generations, two husband-and-wife teams and a pair of sisters.
Fort Sherman Days this year included walking tours of the old fort grounds and an old-fashioned ice cream social with the Fort Sherman Band. It was a collaboration of the Fort Sherman Historical Society, the Museum of North Idaho and NIC’s Molstead Library.