Symphonic Band to Perform Inauguration Celebration Concert

Celebrating the inauguration of Oklahoma Baptist University President David W. Whitlock, the OBU Symphonic Band will present its annual spring concert at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 1, in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium. The public is invited to the concert, and there is no admission charge.

The symphonic band, comprised of the most talented instrumentalists on campus, is OBU's oldest musical ensemble with more than 70 years of rich musical heritage. The band performs under the direction of Dr. Jim Hansford, OBU Burton Patterson professor of music and director of bands since 1990.

The ensemble will perform a variety of compositions including works from the standard wind band and contemporary band repertoire. In celebration of the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, this year's concert will spotlight a performance of the famous Aaron Copland work "Lincoln Portrait," which will feature William James Brown, OBU professor emeritus of music, as narrator.

"We are bringing Mr. Brown back to do something serious after all those years of entertaining the audience while serving as emcee of the M & M's Pops Concerts," Hansford said. "Mr. Brown retired as emcee in 2003 after serving for 20 years as the sole emcee of these popular fall concerts."

"Lincoln Portrait" was composed in 1942 shortly after the United States entered World War II. Copland was commissioned by conductor Andre Kostelanetz to compose a work that would fortify and comfort people during that time of national distress. The composer was somewhat overwhelmed by the assignment, but eventually came up with a work that has become a touchstone in times of crisis. It remains one of the most enduring works in American music. The composer uses excerpts from various speeches by Lincoln as well as short musical quotations from American songs such as "Camptown Races."

Brown will join a long list of famous people who have served as narrators for this grand work including James Earl Jones, Gregory Peck, Walter Conkrite, Marian Anderson, Henry Fonda, Al Gore and General Norman Schwarzkopf.

Other works on the evening's concert will include "Prelude" by Dmitri Shostakovich, "October" by Eric Whitacre, "Der Traum des Oenghus" by Rolf Rudin, "First Suite in Eb" by Gustav Holst, "The Promise of Living" by Aaron Copland, "Serenade Romantic"by Joseph Turrin, and"Divertimento for Band"by Vincent Persichetti.

At this final concert of the year, all graduating seniors will be recognized. They include Ryann Aaron, an accounting major from Hutchinson, Kan.; Hillary Anderson, an English major from Oklahoma City; Jessica Hill, an English major from Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Shaylan Jacobs, an interdisciplinary major in music, French and education from Atwater, Calif. December graduates include Leslee Aeschliman, a music education major from Midwest City, Okla., and Brandon Crnkovic, a musical arts (trumpet) major from Tecumseh, Okla.

"It is always difficult to see so many fine musicians leave the band program at one time," remarked Hansford. "The leadership, inspiration and support they have provided to our ensemble the last four years are greatly appreciated, and they will be sincerely missed."

The 2009 edition of the Symphonic Band includes members from the seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. About 51 of the band is comprised of music majors, and the balance of the membership comes from majors across the campus ranging from accounting and biblical languages to bio-chemistry and English.

Hansford serves as coordinator of instrumental studies. He teaches music education, conducting and low brass. Hansford earned degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of North Texas where he studied conducting with Anshel Brusilow and trombone with Leon Brown. He served as senior editor of a textbook published in 2002, "The Instrumental Resource for Church and School."

He has served as conductor of the Baptist All-State Symphonic Band since 1992 and has traveled with the group across the United States and internationally to England and Canada. He stays active as an adjudicator, guest conductor and clinician in public schools and churches and is a regular adjudicator for Director Choice Festivals out of Lubbock, Texas.

Hansford has also served as conductor of the OBU-Shawnee Community Orchestra since its inception in 2002.