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Magical moments at the OU Symphony Orchestra concert

Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report
Conductor Jonathan Shames and Julie Davies after their performance at the Catlett Music Center.
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NORMAN, Okla. – I have been to many concerts while being in the U.S. but I had never attended a symphony orchestra concert. Who could blame me? After all, a classical music concert is rarely a favorite of the younger generation.

But everything changed after watching the OU Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 6, at the Catlett Music Center in Norman. Performing Strauss' Four Last Songs and Brahms' Symphony No. 4 in e minor and with special guest, Julie Davies, an internationally renowned soprano, the OU Symphony Orchestra did not disappoint. 

The orchestra is directed by Jonathan Shames, a piano virtuoso who has an extensive resume, including directorships of the Wyoming Symphony, the Olympia (Washington) Symphony, and the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras and its Marrowstone Music Festival.

While sitting in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, I listened as the members of the orchestra began warming up. It sounded more like a cacophony of sounds until, suddenly, everything stopped when Shames, accompanied by Davies, entered the room to applause. 

Then, the conductor started the concert using his baton to lead the symphony orchestra, composed of nearly 90 musicians. What was just a cacophony before the conductor was present, became one body, each part playing in harmony with each other.

The divine, powerful voice of Davies' soprano added to the rhythmic and intense music of the dozens of instruments to create a truly inspiring moment.

Even though the violins are the core of the orchestra, each instrument including viola, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, harp, celesta and percussion instruments, is equally important.

And what about the conductor using hand gestures to lead the orchestra, a thorough job that leaves no room for mistakes. Underappreciated by the neophyte, revered by the expert, the one who is doing this work must be passionate.

After almost an hour and a half performance, the orchestra was met with rousing applause. 

This may have been my first experience with the OU Symphony Orchestra but it will certainly not be my last. 

It was interesting to observe that while a large part of the audience consisted of seniors, members of the orchestra were mostly composed of young performers, largely students. I believe a certain wisdom and peacefulness is required in order to appreciate this musical art.

The OU Symphony Orchestra plays only two or three times per semester and also for the opera and ballet performances with OU Opera Theater and Dance Department. Their next performance will be for the opera Hansel and Gretel from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, at the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, Norman. For more information, check out the orchestra performance schedule or the University Theatre schedule.

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About the Author

Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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