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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Oklahoma Community Orchestra Nutcracker performance

Friday, November 30, 2007  
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By Sarah Gogarty

Every year, the Oklahoma Ballet Company performs the Nutcracker. Many in the Oklahoma City/Edmond area attend this performance. Last year, a new tradition began. The Oklahoma Ballet Company teamed up with the Oklahoma Community Orchestra for live music along with the Nutcracker performance.

Oklahoma Christian University band and string ensemble students are given the opportunity to practice with the orchestra and participate in concerts for class credit. This allows the Oklahoma Community Orchestra to have a connection with Oklahoma Christian.

Kathy Thompson, Oklahoma Christian associate professor of music and member of the OCO, finds the relationship between Oklahoma Christian and the OCO to be an important bond which helps students and the community.

“It is also a real plus for a university this size to have the opportunity for students go free to concerts like that [on campus],” Thompson said. “OC provides a good location. It is a good way for people to come on campus and see what we do and enjoy the benefits of having a university in your neighborhood.”

Practicing and performing with the orchestra is a yearlong experience. John Fletcher, the chair of the department of music and the conductor of the OCO, is the conductor of the Nutcracker performance for the first time this year.

“It’s a new type of performing experience for most of the students, I would imagine,” Fletcher said. “They’re accustomed to playing their ensemble programs at concerts, but to serve as an accompaniment to a ballet company is a different sort of experience.”

Due to the small number of students participating with the OCO, Joniessa Jette, a freshman at Oklahoma Christian, finds it easy to be an influence and be influenced by the adult members.

Keenan Middleton, also a freshman at Oklahoma Christian, finds those connections help him set his mind on something to accomplish.

“The connection I’ve made with Oklahoma Community Orchestra would probably be on a higher level than high school. Everything is way more advanced, and I like trying to play music that requires a lot of motivation, which comes from the orchestra,” Middleton said.

For the second year, the Oklahoma Ballet Company invited the OCO to accompany them in their performance of the Nutcracker.  The OCO accepted, but this year, the students are unable to participate.

Cocoa & Carols, the main Oklahoma Christian holiday performance, conflicts with the Nutcracker performance.

“It’s unfortunate, but hopefully, if we do this again next year, they’ll be able to participate then,” Fletcher said.

Jette understood the commitment to participating in the Nutcracker performance but was still disappointed to find out students would not be playing in it this year.

“I regret that students don’t get to play the Nutcracker because all of our other performances were something that we won’t forget, and the Nutcracker performance is something that is looked forward to every year for a lot of people,” Middleton said.

This year’s Nutcracker performances are Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 2 at 2pm. The performance will be at the Yukon Fine Arts Auditorium.

“I hope that students will come to the Cocoa & Carols program here on campus Sunday afternoon, but perhaps come on Saturday evening to see the ballet performance in Yukon,” Fletcher said. “It might be a unique and enjoyable experience for the students that haven’t seen that production before.”

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