Music to our ears


Group’s mission is to bring more live music and public concerts to Fishers

By Ann Craig-Cinnamon

It was Sunday evening, and people were streaming into Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in Fishers. While it’s not unusual to attend church on Sundays, in this case, it was to hear the debut performance of the Fishers Chamber Orchestra. Yes, Fishers now has a Chamber Orchestra. It’s the latest music ensemble created by a group called Fishers Music Works that has organized five music ensembles over the past year.

Fishers Music Works, founded in April of 2013, is a locally-based and locally-funded group dedicated to enhancing culture and lifestyle in Fishers, by organizing live music performances that give Fishers a musical identity. To that end, within the past year, five distinct ensembles were created, and as many as 15 concerts have been presented.

In addition to the March 23 premiere of the Fishers Chamber Orchestra, Nickel Plate Jazz Orchestra, a 20-piece Big Band/Jazz ensemble, and Fishers Wind Symphony, a 45 to 50-piece concert band, each has presented four concerts. Also, the Indiana Heartland Brass Quintet played for the dedication of the Fishers Freedom Plaza Monument on July 7 of last year, and the Mudsock Jazz Combo has presented multiple concerts.

Fishers Music Works co-founder, Vice President and Music Director, Dr. Keith Kunda said the mission of Fishers Music Works is to sponsor professional and semi-professional ensembles in Fishers and to provide educational opportunities that revolve around great music of the present and the past. “I believe that the time is right for Fishers to have its own adult instrumental ensembles,” said Kunda, who is a Fishers resident with a Doctor of Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting from Ball State University. “Fishers public schools do a superior job with all the performing arts: band, choir, orchestra, theater, and dance. But until a year ago there was nothing for adults. With over 80,000 residents, we are finding untapped performing talent as well as audience interest,” he said.

That untapped talent includes mostly professional musicians, according to FMW co-founder and Treasurer Doug Whisman, who said most have not been paid for their participation. He said the Nickel Plate Jazz Orchestra consist  of musicians that are largely from Fishers and include many school band directors. The Fishers Wind Symphony and Chamber Orchestra musicians are from Fishers and neighboring cities.

Funding for any organization can be challenging and Whisman said most of the funding for the Fishers Music Works efforts come from private donations, tickets sales and the Fishers Arts Council. The Town of Fishers also pays for several summer concerts that are presented for free at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater.

Future plans include several summer concerts this year with Fishers Parks and Recreation and probably a performance of the small jazz ensemble during Art in the Park May 31. But Whisman said plans do not include the creation of any more ensembles. “With five ensembles and completing 15 concerts in the first year, we have no immediate plans for adding more performances or ensembles. The next major item on our agenda is partnering with Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy’s already established Piano and String Competition for students,” he said.

As many as 150 people attended the debut performance of the Chamber Orchestra and Kunda said the outstanding response is very encouraging. “We are not trying to be the Indianapolis or Carmel Symphony Orchestras. This is a smaller group (30 to 40 players), and we are focusing on performances of literature from the Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic periods. We are also working on partnering with singers (soloists or choirs), as well as finding ways to become a performing medium for concerto competition winners,” he said.

Fishers Arts Council President Jocelyn Vare attended the Orchestra premiere and was very enthusiastic. “The debut of the Fishers Chamber Orchestra is meaningful to the Fishers community because it is a new opportunity for our local musicians to perform and a new opportunity for Fishers residents to support them. This ensemble is something special our community will take pride in and is marvelously entertaining, too!”

The next concert will be of the Fishers Wind Symphony on April 27 at 7 p.m. at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church at 10500 E. 126th St., Fishers. For more information, visit