The music of the most iconic classical composers filled the auditorium of the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Sunday as the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 2014-15 concert season.

The music of the most iconic classical composers filled the auditorium of the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Sunday as the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 2014-15 concert season.


Entitled The Classical Masters, the concert featured one composition each from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn and Ludwig von Beethoven, each of which were brought to life by the sharp-as-ever musicians that make up the symphony.


Under the direction of music director and conductor Charles Jones Evans, the audience was treated first to Mozart’s overture to the opera "The Marriage of Figaro," which premiered in the Austrian capital of Vienna in 1786.


The Pine Bluff Symphony’s rendition of this much-loved piece was characterized by a richness and precision that more than did justice to the work.


The string section perfectly evoked the spirit of merriment that Mozart intended for the piece, with the section’s more than two dozen bows becoming a blur of rapid movement as the implied action crescendoed.


The four movements of Haydn’s "Symphony No. 94 in G," popularly known as the "Surprise Symphony," were tackled with aplomb by the orchestra. A rousing standing ovation at the conclusion of the piece was a testament to the quality of the effort.


Jones Evans said that the piece received the surprise moniker because of the composer’s insertion of a dramatic chord in the middle of the piece’s otherwise gently performed second movement.


The Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra fully captured the mood and the spirit of each movement and managed to keep the audience slightly on edge as the second movement began, in anticipation of the planned audible jolt.


While indeed a sharp auditory punch from nowhere, the fact that the surprise was in fact anticipated relegated the chord to that of being obvious instead. Even so, this took nothing away from the superb execution of the piece by the orchestra.


The piece is emblematic of the classical style, in which a simple melody is performed and then replayed several times, each time a different variation on the original.


The second half of the performance was devoted entirely to a performance of Beethoven’s "Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat" from "Opera 73" and known as the "Emperor."


The piece was originally performed in 1811 in Leipzig, Germany.


Guest artist Hee-Kyung Juhn took her place before a beautiful grand piano situated in front of the orchestra. Attired in a blue evening gown, Juhn elicited several exclamations of wonderment from the audience as she masterfully took command of the piano keys.


Juhn is director of keyboard studies at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.


The concerto consists of three movements, with the first of the three a full 20 minutes in length.


Juhn was accompanied by the orchestra and, in many instances, the notes of the piano were immediately recreated by the orchestra.


The finesse with which Juhn manipulated the piano keys was mesmerizing as she transitioned easily from emphatic to ethereal.


Upon the concert’s conclusion, Juhn was celebrated with a prolonged standing ovation that transitioned into an ovation for the rest of the orchestra and its conductor.


All in all, the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra’s performance was of a caliber that would surely satisfy concertgoers from San Francisco to Chicago.