From modest beginnings in 1983 as a three-concert series, the OK MOZART Festival has grown over the past years to become one of the leading summer music festivals in the country, ranked on a par with the Aspen Music Festival, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival and San Francisco’s Midsummer Mozart Festival – quite an accomplishment for a small town of 35,000 in the heartland of America.
In 1983, Ransom Wilson and the orchestra he founded made a performance stop in Bartlesville. Here, the musicians found a charming, cosmopolitan town with a magnificent performing arts center that held one of the finest concert halls in the country. The OK MOZART Festival was born of this fortunate discovery.
Wilson was so impressed with the near-perfect acoustics of the Bartlesville Community Center that he made a proposal to start an annual classical music festival in Bartlesville. With local partnership consisting of colleague Nan Buhlinger, a Bartlesville musician, several community leaders and the Bartlesville Community Center Trust Authority, his idea was implemented and OK MOZART was founded in 1985.
Today, OK MOZART is led by Executive Director Shane Jewell, an innovative arts administrator who has taken the OK MOZART Festival to a new level. Building upon the success of offering three distinct series of entertainment options, the 2011 OK MOZART Festival features a Grand Finale Concert with violin virtuoso Joshua Bell.
“As we prepare to celebrate OK MOZART’s 27th Anniversary it is amazing to reflect on how far this annual Festival has come,” Jewell notes. “From its inaugural year as a three-day event, to the full-fledged ten-day Festival of today, OK MOZART remains one of Oklahoma’s most cherished cultural assets. The 2011 Festival, which runs from June 10 – 19, marks our 27th season of bringing world-class musicians and concert artists to Bartlesville.”
Most important, Jewell adds, is the return of OKM’s resident orchestra, Amici New York, whose artists will perform Saturday evening’s “Sublime Strings,” The Wednesday night “Wiley Post” World Premier, Friday night’s Woolaroc Outdoor Concert and the much-anticipated Grand Finale, “An Evening with Joshua Bell.” “We are thrilled they will be joining us along with Paul Neubauer’s Classical All Stars Chamber Ensemble with members of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.”
In addition to OKM’s world-class Amici New York orchestra and chamber musicians from Lincoln Center, the Festival has traditionally hosted top-flight guest artists year after year. Past guests have included Robin Sutherland, Doc Severinsen, Joshua Bell, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Itzhak Perlman, Sir James Galway, André Watts, Andre-Michel Shub, Sarah Chang and Branford Marsalis.
Adding much anticipation to this year’s Festival is the Grand Finale – “An Evening with Joshua Bell.”
OKM’s resident orchestra, Amici New York, and guest conductor Gustav Meier will perform with Joshua Bell for what will be a truly memorable event. For more than two decades, Joshua Bell has enchanted audiences worldwide with his breathtaking virtuosity and tone of rare beauty. His restless curiosity and multifaceted musical interests have taken him in exciting new directions that have earned him the rare title of “classical music superstar.” The musicians of Amici New York have toured Asia, Europe and the United States, and have appeared in series at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, City Center and the Metropolitan Museum. The orchestra comprises members of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and numerous other orchestras throughout the country and world.
Also appearing will be Turtle Island Quartet. Winner of the 2006 and 2008 GRAMMY Awards in Best Classical Crossover category.
Lending additional excitement to this year’s Festival is Austin-based Hot Club of Cowtown. They have grown to be the most globe-trotting, hardest-swinging Western swing trio on the planet.
Alloy Orchestra will accompany a screening of one of the greatest movies ever made, the silent film “The General” with Buster Keaton.
Rounding out OK MOZART’s Festival lineup will be the Carolina Chocolate Drops. “We look forward to presenting one of the most exciting seasons ever in OK MOZART’s history, as well as hosting an ever-growing audience as a result of our efforts to expand the appeal of the concert series through a broader variety of programming,” says Shane Jewell, executive director.
Tickets for all performances in the 2011 OK MOZART Festival lineup are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased in a variety of ways, including online. Place ticket orders 24/7 by visiting the OK MOZART web site at www.okmozart.com.