The OBU-Shawnee Community Orchestra will hold auditions for its 15th season Monday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. in Raley Chapel on OBU's campus in Shawnee. The orchestra is under the direction of Dr. Jim Hansford, founding conductor of the orchestra and Burton H. Patterson professor of music and director of bands emeritus.
This particular audition date is primarily for string players, but interested performers on wind and percussion instruments should contact Hansford at (405) 585-4334 for additional information.
Musicians should come prepared to play an appropriate excerpt of a solo or an etude to demonstrate his or her musical skills. The principal players in the string section, who are graduate students or professional players from the area, will conduct string auditions. Each auditioning player will also be asked to sight-read a short excerpt of music. "We do our best to make this a 'low-pressure' audition situation," Hansford said. Returning wind and percussion players do not need to re-audition at this time.
Funding for the first few years of the OBU-Shawnee Community Orchestra was provided through a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation in Oklahoma City. The grant provided funds necessary to form a graduate string quartet that was shared jointly by the University of Oklahoma and OBU. That quartet served as the principal players in the string section. In recent years, corporate and private donors in the Shawnee area have stepped in and supported the ensemble with generous gifts.
"Without the assistance of our loyal local donors, this orchestra would likely not be a reality," Hansford said.
Through the years the orchestra has averaged about 50 percent of its membership from the community and the remainder being comprised of OBU students, faculty, alumni and staff. More than 80 different musicians from the community and region have participated in the orchestra over the years from cities including Muskogee, Edmond, Norman, Yukon, Ada, Tecumseh, McLoud, Harrah, Meeker, Oklahoma City, Chandler, Choctaw and Earlsboro. Likewise, numerous OBU wind, percussion and string majors have had an orchestral experience necessary for continued success in their chosen profession.
"The membership of the group is quite diverse, including doctors, educators, homemakers, retired military, and students ranging in age from 15 to 75 years," Hansford said. "The beautiful thing about musical skill is that one can utilize and enjoy it for a lifetime."
Four current members have been a part of the group since its inception. They include Sherry McWilliams, flute; John King, trumpet; Ada Sewell, violin/viola; and Thresa Swadley, cello.
Last year, the orchestra performed as part of the annual Homecoming Musical Gala presentation featuring all the major ensembles in the Warren Angell College of Fine Arts. The orchestra collaborated with guest alumni musicians from the class of 1969 in a special performance of the popular Jimmy Webb classic "MacArthur Park."
Regular orchestra rehearsals are scheduled Mondays from 7-9 p.m. in the instrumental rehearsal hall (room 104) in Raley Chapel. The first rehearsal this season will be held Aug. 31.