Auditions for the 17th season of the OBU-Shawnee Community Orchestra will be held Monday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. in Raley Chapel on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University. The orchestra is under the direction of Dr. Jim Hansford, retired 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 may contact Hansford at (405) 585-4323 or (405) 255-2984 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 four principal players in the string section, who are graduate students or professional players from the area, will conduct string auditions. Dr. Ben Shute, concertmaster of the orchestra, will be leading the audition panel. Each auditioning player will also be asked to sight-read a short excerpt of music. Returning wind and percussion players do not need to re-audition at this time.
“We do our best to make this a low-pressure audition situation,” Hansford said.
Funding for the first few years of the SCO 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 coming 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.
The orchestra frequently performs as part of the annual Homecoming Musical Gala and the Hanging of the Green presentation which often features all the major ensembles in the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts. In 2015, the orchestra collaborated with guest alumni performers Arnold Rawls, operatic tenor, and Dennis Jernigan, praise and worship leader and composer, in an evening of diverse musical styles ranging from some world class arias to familiar contemporary Christian selections.
Regular orchestra rehearsals are scheduled on Mondays from 7-9 p.m. in the instrumental rehearsal hall (room 104) in Raley Chapel. The first rehearsal this season will be Sept. 11.
For more information, contact Hansford at (405) 585-4323 or (405) 255-2984.