Name: Dr. Kevin Forte
Parish: Christ the King
City: Little Rock
Family: Wife Judy, 15-year-old twins, Matthew and Catherine, and mother Agnes.
Why you want to know Kevin: He loves his work as the music director and organist at Christ the King Church in addition to being a radiologist at Baptist Medical Center. On Memorial Day weekend, 26 members of the Christ the King Chancel Choir will travel to New York to perform at Lincoln Center in the world premiere of “Requiems for the Brave,” which will include a chorus of 250 singers.
Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year is centered on the Church’s Year of Faith. How does the role of music director enrich your faith?
Getting these choir members ready for their performance in New York is a very faith-filled moment to me because it is a reward for what they do as volunteers — week in and week out, year in and year out — to provide the music they provide for the church. No matter if it is work here or at the hospital, I like people. My faith is deepened by showcasing and helping people around me do well. I just steer the ship as music director.
Spiritually, music is the way I worship. It is my prayer at every Mass, basically. I enjoy selecting the music. I enjoy listening to music, previewing the music and thinking about what our choir would perform well. But without the help of our Lord, the support of my family, encouragement by a tremendous pastor and friend, Msgr. (Francis) Malone and the dedication of our choir members there is no way we’d have the program we are so blessed to have at Christ the King.
What is your musical background and how did you develop as a musician?
I was born in Lake Village, where my father was a piano teacher and my mother was in the church choir. My Aunt Catherine played the organ there and was an excellent jazz pianist. It has always been a huge part of my family life. When I’m playing all this music — like the music that we sang on Good Friday — it is all the music that my dad used in Lake Village. It just seems to connect it all together. Today, my mom is the choir librarian here and sings in the choir. I don’t think there is any music director more spoiled than me in this regard. She is an enormous help to me.
How does your work as both doctor and music director fit into your family’s schedule?
Obviously with two teenagers, we are busy all of the time. But we do spend time together on weekends. Ever since I started as music director 12 years ago, we always keep Sunday as a day when nobody plans anything after Mass. It has been a blessing to me to have the family I have. Judy is also a physician. Many wives would never have gone through this to begin with because it does take a lot of my time. It takes a special lady to agree to it and that is part of Judy living her faith as well, along with the children.
How did the performance in New York come about?
Last October, Christ the King Church presented a weekend workshop for the music program and invited Mark Hayes, the composer of the Lincoln Center’s performance, “Requiems for the Brave,” to conduct it. … As a result of this workshop’s performances, Mark extended an invitation to these singers to be a part of his premiere at Lincoln Center in May. Out of the 60 participants, 26 will be making the trip to New York to perform.
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