The performance will conclude the orchestra’s 18th season and will serve as the retirement concert for founding conductor Dr. Jim Hansford, following his 19 years of service as the group’s conductor. He retired from full time teaching at OBU in 2010 after serving 20 years as the Burton H. Patterson Professor of Music and director of bands, but has continued as an adjunct faculty member conducting the orchestra.
“I decided to include several of my favorite musical works for this final concert with the orchestra,” Hansford said. “Upon reflecting on my 46 years as a band director, I have programmed a couple of my favorite wind band works that have been transcribed for orchestra. It promises to be an evening of exciting music making and listening.”
The OBU-Shawnee Community Orchestra was organized in fall 2001 with the assistance of a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation in Oklahoma City. The orchestra’s mission is to provide 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 OBU. Since its founding, many generous donors from the Shawnee community have supported the orchestra.
Approximately half of the ensemble members come from surrounding communities, including Norman, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Edmond, Harrah, Dale and Shawnee, while the remaining members are OBU faculty, alumni and students, including music majors. Orchestra members range in age from 16 to 70 or more years old and represent a wide range of professions including educators, private music teachers, band directors, doctors and more.
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 orchestra was chosen to perform as an honor organization at the Oklahoma Music Educators Convention in Tulsa.
“We are extremely grateful to those individuals and businesses who step up and support this unique community musical endeavor,” Hansford said. “’The Oklahoman’ reported some years ago that Shawnee was the smallest city in our state to support such a community musical collaboration.”
Lighter works to be included on the evening’s performance include “Scherzo Colombine” by Cecile Chaminade; the theme from “Somewhere in Time” by John Barry, featuring Dr. Abigail Mace, assistant professor of music and director of OBU’s Preparatory Department; and “My Bonny Boy,” the slow movement from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “English Folk Song Suite,” which will be conducted by student conductor Mitchell Manlapig, a junior piano major from Shawnee.
Two works will highlight the orchestra’s string section. They include two movements from Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite,” for strings alone, and a composition by British composer George Butterworth, “The Banks of Green Willow.” The Butterworth piece is for chamber orchestra using strings, woodwinds, two horns, one trumpet and harp.
The more substantial works included on the program include “First Suite in Eb” by Gustav Holst and “Russian Christmas Music” by Alfred Reed, both of which are orchestral transcriptions of original wind band works. The program also includes “Finale from Symphony No. 5” by Dmitri Shostakovich.
“Russian Christmas Music” is not traditional Christmas music, but rather, it is based on motivic elements from the liturgical music of the Eastern Orthodox Church forming an impression of old Russia. Hansford is especially excited to conduct this piece once again.
“Of all the works I have performed in my 50 plus years, this one piece has generated more audience appeal, including inquiries and questions following the concert, than any other piece,” Hansford said. “This work was performed at the annual Hanging of the Green presentation several years ago to a jubilantly receptive and appreciative audience. The work ranges in dynamics from the most solemn, peaceful antiphonal chant to an ending cathedral chorus that literally brings down the house.”
Hansford, a respected educator-conductor for more than 45 years, was recently inducted into the Oklahoma Music Educators Hall of Fame at the annual convention in Tulsa. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and both a Master of Music Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Music from the University of North Texas. His 46-year teaching career includes seven years in the public schools, 20 years at OBU, and 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.