John Jeter

Music Director and Conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony


John Jeter is presently in his twenty-fourth season as the Music Director and Conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony. With the tremendous help and support of wonderful musicians, professional staff, board of directors and the community, Mr. Jeter has led the transformation of a small community symphony to a large, fully-professional regional orchestra. In 2002, John and the orchestra were recognized by the League of American Orchestras for their outstanding work with John being the recipient of the League’s Helen M. Thompson Award “in recognition of outstanding artistic leadership.” The Music Director and orchestra have been acknowledged with the Mayor’s Achievement Award presented by the City of Fort Smith and the Mayor’s Civic Center Award for the Performing Arts. Mr. Jeter is the recipient of the 2012 Governor’s Arts Award “Individual Artist Award.”

Mr. Jeter’s interest in music education has led to the creation of numerous educational programs, ensembles and community projects. These activities include new ensembles such as the Kool Catz Jazz Quartet and JoltTM electronic string quartet. The symphony’s ongoing Earquake!TM concerts for sixth grade students, created by Mr. Jeter thirteen years ago, have exposed thousands of students to music employing multi-media and large symphony orchestra. His efforts have led to the Fort Smith Symphony’s international recordings on Naxos (the world’s largest classical recording company) as well as a feature length film festival documentary about the Symphony called “Extreme Orchestra.” Mr. Jeter’s support of new music has resulted in the Fort Smith Symphony commissioning many works given their world premieres in Fort Smith. For approximately ten years, Mr. Jeter was co-host of “Conductor’s Choice” with P.J.Robowski on KUAF National Public Radio. He is still a regular guest on media outlets throughout the region.


In addition to conducting the orchestra in rehearsals and concerts, Mr. Jeter selects the musicians who play in the orchestra, chooses all programming and guest artists. He is involved extensively in fundraising for the orchestra as well as the creation and management of the organization’s yearly operating budget. In addition, Mr. Jeter begins his tenth season as the Fort Smith Symphony’s Executive Director being responsible for the administrative and financial direction of the organization.

Mr. Jeter has held conducting positions with the Indianapolis Symphony, North Arkansas Symphony, Greater Indianapolis Youth Symphony, Purdue University, University of Tulsa and University of Oklahoma. He has conducted numerous orchestras in the United States and Europe. Since the summer of 1996, his primary focus has been the Fort Smith Symphony and music education in Fort Smith. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Hartt School of Music with a degree in Music Theory and Piano and graduated with distinction from Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts with a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting.

Mr. Jeter resides in Sebastian County with his wife Karen, daughter Nicole, and Sheltie K-9 sisters Sadie and Gracie. He has little time for hobbies, but if he were to list them, they would include graphic arts, reading and vintage aviation.