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Text and photo courtesy of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas

Symphony of Northwest Arkansas Presents Defying Expectations with Concertmaster Winona Fifield

Performing under the baton of music director Paul Haas, SoNA’s 2023-24 season continues with Defying Expectations on Feb. 17. The concert, set for 7:30 p.m. in Walton Arts Center’s Baum Walker Hall, will feature music that, well, defies expectations. This includes Darius Milhaud’s eclectic and wonderfully unpredictable style, Max Bruch’s early success and Louise Farrenc’s bold persistence and assurance in her powerful voice despite the many barriers she faced along the way. Great music pushes beyond barriers and expectations.

On the evening’s program, SoNA will feature what is potentially the greatest piece of music you’ve never heard: Farrenc’s Symphony No. 3. This work — and the rest of Farrenc’s output — was lost to many until recently due to the music world often ignoring and dismissing female composers. “We are thrilled to be able to bring this outstanding and passionate music to you some 177 years after Farrenc wrote it in 1847,” Haas said. “I honestly can’t believe it fell out of the repertoire, as she is a phenomenal composer. We at SoNA can’t wait to share it with our audience.”


Winona Fifield


SoNA musicians will also perform Milhaud’s Le Boeuf sur le toit, which is not about a cow or an ox on a roof despite its name. It’s the music written for Jean Cocteau’s farcical pantomime about a nonexistent speakeasy in America during Prohibition, performed for the first time in Paris in 1919. “Milhaud’s score is kaleidoscopic in color, with multiple keys and tonalities jostling with each other for supremacy,” Haas said. “And it’s just plain fun, featuring incredibly virtuosic passages for the entire orchestra all the way through.”


Rounding out the evening’s repertoire, Winona Fifield, SoNA’s esteemed concertmaster, will perform Bruch’s beloved and romantic Violin Concerto in G Minor, a piece that was a big success despite being written early in the composer’s career. “It’s a rare treat to hear our esteemed concertmaster play a concerto,” Haas said. “And I’ve been looking forward to playing the Bruch with her for ages. Winona is one of those rare musicians who grips your heart with her playing. She’s so musical, and I know everyone in the audience is going to feel like they’ve witnessed something truly extraordinary.”


Tickets for Defying Expectations are $36, $48 or $61 based on seating preferences. Discount student tickets are available with a student photo ID. Children under 18 are free with the purchase of an adult ticket (limited quantities). Defying Expectations is generously sponsored by Greenwood Gearhart.

Following the February concert, the SoNA mainstage season will conclude April 6 with Ode to Joy, featuring Beethoven’s towering Ninth Symphony, the first symphony ever to feature vocalists and a chorus. 

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