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OBU To Launch Community Orchestra In August

July 25, 2001

Oklahoma Baptist University's Division of Music will revive a philharmonic tradition when it adds the Shawnee Community Orchestra to its list of instrumental ensembles this fall.

The Aug. 27 auditions are open to instrumentalists ages 16 and older. Residents of communities spanning from eastern Oklahoma County to Henryetta are particularly encouraged to audition.

OBU was awarded funding from the Kirkpatrick Foundation to work with the University of Oklahoma School of Music in developing the community orchestra program.

The one-year grant will provide the OBU and OU orchestras with an OU graduate student quartet that will form the core of the SCO strings section. The quartet also will perform on campus and in local public schools to raise interest in orchestral programs.

OBU has offered a string ensemble course under the direction of Keith Whitmore, staff accompanist and viola player, since 1996.

"We have been a choral school of so many years, and we have increased our strengths in wind instrument programs, but one thing we haven't had is a resident orchestra," said Dr. Paul Hammond, dean of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts. "I am very excited to see what this might do to enhance music at OBU and to provide another community service for our students."

Hammond envisions more opportunities for chamber music and experiences that students often have to wait to gain in graduate school. Some students have made their college choice based on the availability of an orchestra, he said.

"This will just enhance what we do," he said.

Dr. Jim Hansford, OBU director of bands, will serve as SCO conductor.

Rehearsals are scheduled once a week during the academic year, on Mondays from 7-9 p.m. in OBU's Raley Chapel. They will begin September 10.

OBU was affiliated with the Shawnee Civic Orchestra in the 1970s, a group at one time conducted by two late OBU faculty, Dr. Robert Laessig, OBU professor of German, and Dr. Paul Boone, professor of music.

Members of the graduate student quartet include Ruth Klein, violin, Samuel Thompson, violin, Mary Ferstl, viola, and Sarah Kapps, cello.

A Pennsylvania native, Klein has performed with orchestras across the country as member and soloist. She has done graduate work at OU and Temple University and currently she coaches with Shem Guibbory in New York. She earned a bachelor's degree in music education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Thompson was a semi-finalist in the New World Symphony Concerto Competition in 2000 and the winner of the Oklahoma State University Concerto Competition in 1996. The recipient of numerous scholarships and fellowships, Thompson earned a bachelor's degree from OSU, and a master's of music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

A viola performance major throughout her academic career, Ferstl earned a bachelor's degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a master's of music degree from Rice University.

In numerous appearances on stages throughout the world, Kapps has appeared with performers such as Johnny Mathis, Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, and Electirc Light Orchestra. Kapps earned a bachelor's degree from The Mannes College of Music and a master's of music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied under Paul Tobias.

For more information about the orchestra contact the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts at 405-878-2305.