Oklahoma Baptist University

Orchestra’s 12th Season Concert to Feature Guest Pianist

The OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra will present its 12th Season Spring Concert Tuesday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. Guest pianist Dr. Michael Dean, associate professor of music in the OBU Division of Music, will join the orchestra as a featured artist. The concert is open to the public, and there is no admission charge.

The program will highlight the music of Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Brahms, Mozart, Albeniz and Morricone. Conductor of the ensemble since its inception is Dr. Jim Hansford, retired Burton Patterson Professor of Music, who served as coordinator of instrumental studies and director of bands at OBU from 1990-2010.

Works featured on the program will include: “Variations on a Theme by Haydn,” composed by Brahms; “Marche Slav” and “Sleeping Beauty Waltz” (from the ballet) by Tchaikovsky; “Variations on a Shaker Melody” by Copland; “Granada” by Albeniz; “Cinema Paradiso” (for strings and piano) by Morricone; “Hungarian Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra” by Liszt; and “Flute Quartet in D major,” first movement (for flute, violin, viola and cello) by Mozart. The flute quartet will spotlight four principal musicians from the orchestra: Carlos Feller, flute; Martin Dalton, violin; Curtis Hansen, viola; and Thresa Swadley, cello.

The Liszt “Hungarian Fantasy” (also called “Fantasy on Hungarian Folk melodies”) is the composer’s 1852 arrangement for piano and orchestra of his “Hungarian Rhapsody, No.14” written for solo piano. During Liszt’s lifetime, it was considered one of his most popular works and today remains a favorite among audiences around the world, Hansford said. Because of this popularity, he was likely pressured to produce a version that included orchestra. The 15-minute work begins with a slow, mysterious introduction followed by a solo cadenza before proceeding to the main body of the work. The bold, march-like main theme of the work is a popular Hungarian folk song with a long-short-short-long rhythm. While much of the work’s thematic material is derived from this song, there also a dance-like section marked “in gypsy style.” The piece presents interplay between the piano and the orchestra, alternated with cadenza-like sections featuring the solo piano in the virtuoso style writing so characteristic of Lizst’s piano works.

Dean, the guest pianist for the concert, came to OBU in 2006. He serves as coordinator of keyboard studies in the OBU Division of Music. In October 2012, Dean traveled to Europe and embraced the opportunity to perform on a stage once used by legendary pianist and composer Franz Liszt. He and his colleague, Dr. Terrie Manno, gave a concert at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. The Manno-Dean Piano Duo play two-piano works, but performed on one piano while in Budapest. The academy invited them to return to perform again as soon as possible. Dean is scheduled to present a workshop at the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia, in November.

The OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra was organized to provide a unique performance collaboration between amateur and professional musicians in the Greater Shawnee area by presenting quality performances of orchestral literature, and to serve as a laboratory for music majors and other music students at Oklahoma Baptist University. About half of the ensemble members come from the surrounding community including McLoud, Ada, Norman, Chandler, Oklahoma City, Tecumseh, Choctaw, Edmond, Harrah, Dale and Shawnee, while the remaining members are OBU students, including music majors. The ensemble divides almost equally between OBU students, faculty and alumni, and members from the community.

The orchestra’s string section is comprised of about 20 players. The ensemble also boasts the full complement of the standard orchestral wind and percussion sections. Orchestra members range in age from 16 to 70-plus years old and include musicians from a wide range of professions including educators, private music teachers, doctors, OBU staff members and homemakers. String principals include Martin Dalton (concertmaster) and Kathleen Gallagher, violins; Curtis Hansen, viola; and Thresa Swadley, cello.

Since its inception, the orchestra has been an integral part of the annual OBU Hanging of the Green presentation, having presented its inaugural concert at that event in 2001. The group continues to regularly appear as a primary ensemble at the annual Christmas presentation.

The community orchestra was organized in the fall of 2001 with the assistance of a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation in Oklahoma City. The grant became a reality through the work of Dr. Paul Hammond, former dean of OBU’s Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts. Today, many generous donors from the Shawnee community support the orchestra. The Oklahoman has reported that Shawnee is the smallest city in the state to support such community collaboration. The ensemble rehearses once weekly for two hours on Monday evenings and follows the OBU academic calendar, which allows for 10-12 rehearsals each semester.

Hansford, the group’s founding conductor, has worked as a respected educator-conductor for more than 45 years. Hansford remains active as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator in public schools and churches in the Southwest. He holds the bachelor of music education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and the master of music education and doctor of philosophy degrees in music from the University of North Texas. His teaching experience includes seven years in the public schools and 36 years at the university level including director of bands positions at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Wayland Baptist University. Hansford served for many years as conductor of the Oklahoma Baptist All-State Symphonic Band, including tours to England and British Columbia and national trips to Boston and Phoenix.

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