EL DORADO – Now in its 62nd year, the South Arkansas Symphony’s 2018-19 season will kick off with a cross of orchestra and modern pop at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. The event will be held in the Murphy Arts District’s Griffin Music Hall at El Dorado, according to a news release.


During the Jeans ‘n Classics at El Dorado, vocalist Jean Meilleur and pianists John Regan will perform the hits of both legends, Billy Joel and Elton John. Songs will include “Ballad of Billy the Kid,” “Big Shot,” “My Life,” “Piano Man,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” and “Circle of Life.”


“Both Billy Joel and Elton John are definitely piano men who are also great writers and singers. Everyone will be up on their feet dancing and singing the night away,” said Kermit Poling, music director for the South Arkansas Symphony. “Great singers, a great pianists, a great band all side by side with the symphony orchestra playing some of the greatest rock music around – it will be an amazing experience.”


The opening performance will also feature two core female vocalists on backing vocals, and members of the Jeans ‘n Classics band on keyboard, guitar, electric bass and drums, all backed by the symphony.


Renowned Broadway star Craig Schulman will return to El Dorado for the orchestra’s new season. Schulman’s El Dorado debut was a few years ago when he directed and starred in the local production of “Les Misérables.”


“He is renown throughout the world for his performances of Jean Valjean, which he reprised during that production. Schulman will perform the memorable ‘Bring Him Home,’ as well as ‘Music of the Night’ from one of his other starring roles as Phantom of the Opera,” according to the release.


“I have heard and performed with Craig probably 20 or more times over the years, and I still get moved to tears when he sings ‘Bring Him Home,’” Poling said. “That alone is worth more than the price of admission.”


The season will also bring back the popular Christmas Holiday Pops concert, as well as concerts featuring award-winning pianists from the Wideman International Piano Competition.


Rounding out the season in May, the Symphony will have a salute to Mozart, as well as its long-running Symphony on the Square. Sponsored by First Financial Bank in El Dorado, Symphony on the Square is a Memorial Day-themed production featuring the most rousing music in the American canon.


This year the Symphony will welcome El Dorado natives Sophia Meyer and Emily Cole. Meyer recently won the 2018 Red River Radio Young Artists Competition and is currently studying at Vanderbilt University. A local favorite, Cole is well known through the region for her impressive vocal skills, according to the release.


Season subscriptions and single tickets are available through the South Arkansas Symphony and El Dorado Festivals and Events by calling 870-863-4547 or online at southarkansassymphony.org.