October 21, 2008
For the 25th year, the Oklahoma Baptist University Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band will perform a fall classic on campus, the M&M's Pops Concert, this year designed with a Halloween-theme flair. The event will be in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 30-31, at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend, and children are encouraged to wear costumes.
Dr. Jim Hansford, OBU Burton Patterson professor of music, will conduct the Symphonic Band, and Dr. Kevin Pruiett, OBU associate professor of music, will direct the Bison Jazz Orchestra. Dale Griffin, OBU campus minister and a former member of the symphonic band, will serve as master of ceremonies.
"As a band student, it is exciting to have a part in this 25-year-old tradition from the OBU music department," said senior Ryann Aaron, the OBU band president, from Hutchinson, Kan. "The symphonic band is preparing to make this a memorable experience for the OBU campus."
Because the event coincides with Halloween, the Symphonic Band has programmed a work titled "House of Horrors" by Tom Wallace. The musical arrangement, subtitled "A Medley of Spooky Music," features theme music from the great works of Bach, Gounod, Mussorgsky, Chopin and other great composers that is commonly associated with horror scenes in movies and other events.
"Although our concert has been near the Halloween date a couple of times during the years, this is the first time we have ever had it directly on Halloween," Hansford said. "We felt it was almost a necessity that we include a work depicting the theme of the day."
The Symphonic Band will perform works which include: "Cheers Fanfare" by Jack Stamp; "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" by John Williams, arranged by James Curnow; "His Excellency March" by Henry Fillmore, edited by Loras Schissel; and "Porgy and Bess Themes" by Gershwin and arranged by James Barnes.
Pruiett will lead the group in musical selections including a wide range of jazz big band styles of Count Basie, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington, and featuring tunes originally sung by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz vocalist Micah McCaslin, a junior vocal major from Midwest City, will perform during the concert. Other BJO soloists will include Brandon Crnkovic, Steven Soward, Kade Goforth, Shaylan Jacobs, David Giaco, and Fernando Castro.
The concert will include a traditional "Name that Tune" section that challenges audience members to identify famous melodies and compete for prizes of M&M's candies. There will be a drawing at intermission and someone will win a big box of M&M's.
"This pops concert is a favorite event with many families who have small children because of its relaxed atmosphere," remarked Hansford. "It is a good way to introduce youngsters to public concerts. Actually, we will have them in the aisles marching around the room as the band plays a rousing march."
Two former directors and a longtime emcee will be returning to participate in the anniversary celebration. Dr. Ron Howell, the originator of the M&M's concert idea, served as band director at OBU from 1972-1988. Dr. Stephen Goforth, an OBU alumnus, taught trumpet and conducted the jazz ensemble from 1985-1992 and served as OBU band director from 1988-90. Goforth's son, Kade, plays in the current OBU Symphonic Band; the pair will perform "Bugler's Holiday" with Pruiett during the concert. William James Brown, who taught music at OBU for 33 years and served as the M&M's concert emcee for 20 years, has attended every M&M's Concert.
Hansford said he hopes families from surrounding communities will bring their children to the fun musical event.
"We try to cater to families, and we encourage parents to bring the youngsters," Hansford said. "Because of the informal setting and the relaxed atmosphere, this popular concert can serve as a kind of laboratory to acquaint toddlers and young children with proper concert behavior and etiquette."
Admission is $5.00 for adults and each person receives a bag of either peanut or plain M&M's to enjoy during the concert. Public school and university student tickets are $3.00. Children 6 years and younger can attend for $1.00, with no charge for lap babies. To inquire about special group rates, call 878-2307.
Tickets to the concert can be purchased at the door; at OBU in the Fine Arts office in Raley Chapel, the Band Office (Room 104, Raley Chapel), the Geiger Center on campus; and at Lasting Impressions in MacArthur Park (2707 N. Market) in Shawnee. For more information, call 878-2305 or 878-2307.