Some episodes in life are worth documenting, and many of those moments are not the obvious successes but the grim moments where failure seemed like a strong possibility. Two years ago this week was an example of the latter. 

After 6 months of planning, things were suddenly looking rather grim for the still-nascent Symphony Number One. We had planned a March 2015 launch, but there were some significant problems and setbacks that forced us to cancel our launch fundraiser, cancel the March concert, and to reboot. In light of all that came after, it starts to look like that point was a minor difficulty, but at the time, suffice to say it was not minor.

In all honesty, I was committed as ever, and confident as ever that we were onto something that Baltimore (and the international composer community) would receive well. That said, I wasn't 100% sure we could get our legs back underneath us fast enough after some of the setbacks we had faced in February. We needed to launch soon and we were starting to run out of time and momentum. 

But there was one person who indefatigably stuck by me at this juncture, at the hour of greatest need. It was a gifted violinist and composer who sat with me at Dooby's Coffee in Mount Vernon to hash it all out with me. This was the same guy who was the very first to write me to express interest in getting the project going in the first place, all the way back in August 2014. In March 2015 at that coffee meeting, I had to ask him, in the midst of what had become a chaotic environment, where he stood. He told me, "I'm still in. At this point, I feel a moral commitment to help get this thing off the ground." And get it off the ground, we did....

That guy was Nicholas Bentz. The rest, as they say, is history. Days later, we brought on Sean Meyers and the three of us got to work on a top-to-bottom overhaul and relaunch plan. Not long after, 3 became 6 and 6 became 11 as we built up a sturdy organization of incredible musicians and committed arts entrepreneurs. Nick went on to lead the orchestra as Concertmaster that May in a successful debut, premiering Mark Fromm's 1st Symphony and put us on the path that led onward to, to date: 18 world premieres, 9 orchestra programs, 27 performances, 18 significant appearances in the media, 3 commercial recordings, 332 composer submissions, and partnerships/projects/recognition with/from Light CityThe Baltimore SunWomen's Philharmonic AdvocacyWarnock Foundation, and our 501c(3) nonprofit status, with even more great news ahead.

Now, I'm thrilled that this same organization, coming up on the finale of a 2nd season, will have the opportunity to perform Nick's largest and most substantive piece to date. It happens to be incredible music, and at the same time, we will have a chance to honor one of the key people who helped us reach this point. 

Make plans to join me and my Symphony Number One colleagues at Emmanuel Episcopal church to hear the world premiere of Nick's Approaching Eternity on April 28th and 29th at 8:00 PM. More details are available at


Approaching Eternity  - Concert Promo Image

Approaching Eternity - Concert Promo Image

Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.