Concert bids adieu to Jack Fortner and his beloved Orpheus Chamber Ensemble

Under the guidance and inspiration of Jack Fortner, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble was an important part of Fresno musical history for more than 40 years. With Fortner’s death in 2020, plans were made to wind down the organization with a final farewell Orpheus concert. But that program had to be canceled due to Covid-19.

Pictured above: Jack Fortner loved a wide variety of music, and it showed in his programming for the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble.

Now, with an event titled “Jack Fortner Memorial Concert: Orpheus Ensemble Finale 2021,” there is finally a chance for a fitting farewell. Here’s a rundown:

Time and date: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, Wahlberg Hall, Fresno State.

Dedicated song: “Escribias as paginas secretas,” a 2021 composition by by David Fox, is set to a poem by Luz Pozo Garza and dedicated to Fortner.

Also on the program: It includes four works by Fortner. The final piece is “AISEA,” written in 2018, which features a large ensemble of noted local musicians: Maria Briggs, Pam Ellzey, Larry Honda, Michael Krikorian, Kevin Cooper, Payton Esraelian, Cynthia Stuart, Nancy Skei, Adam Elmore and Benjamin Boone.


Fortner’s story: He was known for his eclectic musical tastes and loved the offbeat. In a story about his passing, I wrote: “As founding artistic director, Dr. Fortner loved shaping his programs into pieces of art themselves, almost like a sculptor … Quick with a quip, clever with a program, sharp and hockey-tough with his students, dynamic with his audiences — Dr. Fortner exuded not just a passion for music but an insistence for it.

Tickets: They’re free. Covid-19 protocols are in effect (proof of vaccinations and masks required).

Sponsors: Fresno Philharmonic Proxima Series and the Fresno State Department of Music.

After party: Reception following at Que Pasa at Campus Pointe (outdoor patio).

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Christina Motta

    Thank you Donald! I really loved your words about Jack, you wrote
    like an old friend.
    Christina Motta


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