The OBU Shawnee Community Orchestra’s 15th season spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, April 19, in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. and features works by three of the world’s most famous composers, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Verdi. Other pieces on the program include works by film score composer John Williams and songwriter Johnny Mandel, along with the famous iconic American composer William Schuman.
The concert is open to the public and there is no admission charge.
Featured works include “1812 Overture” and the “Finale” from the 5th Symphony by Tchaikovsky; “Triumphal March” from Aida by Verdi; “Egmont Overture” by Beethoven; “Country Gardens” by Percy Grainger; “Valdres March” by Hanssen; “When Jesus Wept” from “New England Triptych” by William Schuman; “Theme from Schindler’s List” by John Williams and “The Shadow of Your Smile” by Johnny Mandel from the 1965 movie “The Sandpiper” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Several members of the orchestra will be featured in solo roles on the evening concert. Senior violin major and concertmaster of the orchestra Victoria Smith Thrutchley will play the famous violin solo from the 1993 Spielberg movie Schindler’s List, winner of many Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Original Musical Score. Accompanying her in a duet role will be principal violist Aaron Bushong. Principal oboist and bassoonist Caitie Bunch and Dustin Seay will play the hauntingly beautiful solo parts to the somber and melancholy setting for strings of the famous William Billing’s hymn tune When Jesus Wept. The ever-popular wind band setting of this work features euphonium and trumpet on the solo parts.
Dr. Jim Hansford, Emeritus Burton H. Patterson professor of music and director of bands, 1990-2010, has been the conductor of the ensemble since its inception. The OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra was organized to provide a unique 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, Norman, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, 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 22 players. Along with that, there is the full complement of the standard orchestral wind and percussion sections. Orchestra members range in age from 18 to over 70 years old and include folks from a wide range of professions including educators, private music teachers, band directors, doctors, OBU students, staff and alumni, and homemakers. String principals include Hannah Murray and Kathleen Gallagher, violins, Aaron Bushong, 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. It continues to regularly appear as a primary ensemble at the annual Christmas presentation. In 2012, the ensemble was chosen to perform as an honor organization at the Oklahoma Music Educators Convention in Tulsa.
The community orchestra was organized in the fall of 2001 with the assistance of a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation in Oklahoma City. For the past ten years many generous donors from the Shawnee community have supported the orchestra. “We are extremely grateful to those individuals and businesses who step up and support this unique community musical endeavor,” remarked Hansford.
The Oklahoman reported a few years ago that Shawnee was the smallest city in our state to support such a community musical collaboration. The ensemble rehearses once weekly for two hours on Monday evenings and follows the Oklahoma Baptist University academic calendar which allows for 10-12 rehearsals each semester.
Founding conductor Dr. Jim Hansford, a respected educator-conductor for over 45 years, stays 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 (Texas). Hansford served for many years as conductor of the Texas and Oklahoma Baptist All-State Symphonic Bands including tours to England and British Columbia and national trips to Boston and Phoenix.