OK Mozart Celebrates Youth, Italy and Opera

by Glenda Rice Collins

FINALE PERFORMANCE: On June 13, Bartlesville Choral Society and Tulsa Oratorio Chorus under the direction of Susan Mueller joined the Amici New York Orchestra and Artistic Director Constantine Kitsopoulos in presenting Mozart’s final work, his inspirational “Requiem”, with guest artist, pianist Jon Kimura Parker who performed Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.”

Putting Oklahoma and Mozart back into the 2015 OK Mozart () Festival (June 6 – 13) with Italian flair proved to be an exhilarating venture for artistic director and conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos and the Amici New York Orchestra.

“Italy is where young Mozart cut his teeth when it comes to opera,” says maestro Kitsopoulos, “…and opera is what I love most.” Oklahoma is becoming well-known for the number of top-rated university programs that are currently producing rising opera luminaries.

The June week-full of festivities included: “L’Amore d’Italia Masked Ball” on June 8 and “A Musical Tour of Italy,” featuring the OK Mozart All-State Orchestra in a June 7 performance with their mentors, the Amici New York Orchestra members, and guest artist, virtuoso violinist Chad Hoopes, performing in Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” on his 21st birthday at the Bartlesville Community Center.

The combined orchestras excelled in Respighi’s memorable “Pini di Roma” (Pines of Rome) finale.

Champions of the festival, Charlie and Julie Daniels were honored during the masked-ball gala at the Hilton Garden Inn ballroom, along with acclaimed broadcast journalist, documentary host and producer Bill Kurtis and his daughter Mary Kristin Kurtis.

Canadian Brass Celebrates 4th Return
Back June 11 for its fourth appearance during some 31 festivals, Canadian Brass once again dazzled with diversity and innovation, including its blazing fast “Turkish Rondo,” a Mozart showpiece for trombone, and its amusing choreography for the opera “Carmen,” music as presented complete with “the bull” in “ten minutes max.”

Ongoing during the week were some 70 showcase events; and Daytime Chamber Concerts featuring the youthful inspirations and contemplative interpretations of the Aeolus Quartet and the exceedingly virtuosic talents of Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker, a global veteran of distinguished concert halls and an Officer of the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian honor.

A master of the pianistic technical requirements and the emotional nuances of heart and soul, Parker drew a lengthy ovation from his rapt audience following the demanding “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganinni, Op.43” during the Grand Finale concert program. His encore, “Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” performed with fast-paced brilliance and mature authority, left his audience further “wowed.” Bravo!

Tulsa Performers Featured during ; Mozart’s “Requiem” Triumphs as Finale
Tulsa and state-wide performers were well represented in concerts ranging from the music of Joseph Rivers’ symphony “Buffalo Run,” performed by Tulsa Youth Sym-phony opening day, to a partially-staged production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” opera mid-week, in which University of Tulsa alumna Sarah Elizabeth Williams was featured as “Donna Elvira.”

The Australian baritone Leslie John Flanagan, cast as “Masetto,” is a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma, where twice each year the globally iconic mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne conducts master classes for selected students at the invitation of OU president David Boren.

Coached by Horne at OU and cast as “Zerlina” in “Don Giovanni,” Patricia Westley is a master of vocal performance major at OU, having earned her undergraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon on full scholarship, with honors.

Saturday night’s Grand Finale Concert (as presented by the Oklahoma Arts Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts) drew a lengthy standing ovation from concert-goers with a “state of the art” production of Mozart’s final work, his celebrated, sumptuous and spiritual 1791 “Requiem, K 626,” as surmounted by the Amici New York Orchestra, with Tulsa Oratorio Chorus and Bartlesville Choral Society.

Guest artists included Oklahoma City tenor Tevyn Hill and New York City bass Nathan Baer along with soprano Emily Dyer and mezzo-soprano Margaret Potter. The multi-talented Hill, said to be equally at ease with pop/rock theatre and dance, is a master of music in opera performance major at Oklahoma City University.
Dyer and Potter have ties to the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University with advanced studies there and honors ongoing.

The Brooklyn-based bass Nathan Baer triumphed as “Il Commendatore” in “Don Gio-vanni” and again as featured bass in “Requiem” with his outstanding bass resonance and tall stage presence.

As a “nature boy” who loves the woods, cycling and hiking trails, Baer said of the unfortunately rained-out Wooloroc Outdoor Concert June 12, “Nature often brings us something even more beautiful,” as he stood on a rock at the edge of Clyde Lake getting drenched from the untimely downpour.

Updated 07-06-2015

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