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Sounds of Success

The OK Mozart Music Festival takes innovative steps to grow Oklahoma artists from grade school through college and beyond to become professional musicians.

Hannah Gray Gordon
April 29, 2017

For 33 years, the OK Mozart Music Festival has been a treasured staple among Oklahoma’s numerous attractions, featuring nine days of some of the finest orchestras, classical and crossover musicians.

The event began in 1985 as the brainchild of conductor Ransom Wilson and musician Nan Buhlinger with a mission to provide educational outreach for local students in addition to enriching the quality of life for patrons and the community. Together they launched an attraction that has become one of Oklahoma’s premiere music festivals. This year the festival has expanded to include a diverse selection of musical styles, including classical, jazz, pop, Broadway and more.

The festival takes innovative steps to grow Oklahoma artists from grade school through college and beyond to become professional musicians.

Country crooner Michael Martin Murphey will get things going June 8 at the Bartlesville Community Center with a concert accompanied by the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra. He is known for songs like “Wildfire,” “Still Taking Chances,” and “What’s Forever For.” Performances by the 145th Street Band and Honey Blue should also dazzle audiences. Honey Blue is known for their album Broken Places.

On June 9, Wilson Phillips joins OKM for the first time. With hits such as “Hold On” and “Release Me,” Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson (daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson) and Chynna Phillips (daughter of the Mamas & the Papas’ John and Michelle Phillips) will offer a harmony-rich performance that will pull from their Grammy-nominated debut album that sold over 10 million copies in the 1990s.

Chris Mann, who performed in the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, should delight audiences with Broadway favorites June 10. A graduate of NBC’s The Voice under the wing of Christina Aguilera, the classically trained singer has topped the Billboard charts ever since. He will also be accompanied by the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra. His current album, Roads, is available, with a new album, Urban Songbook, coming soon and more projects in the wings.

The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra will perform an afternoon classical concert June 11 featuring the premiere of Jerod Tate’s “Muscogee Hymn Suite,” with lyrics sung by the Tulsa Children’s Chorus and baritone soloist Grant Youngblood. A member of the Chickasaw Nation, Tate revamped the songs and added orchestration to bring new life to traditional songs.

That evening, the OKC Festival is hosting a free concert at Sooner Park. Entertainment will be provided by the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, featuring the Modern Oklahoma Jazz Orchestra (MOJO). Listeners are invited to bring their own beer and wine or purchase from a cash bar and enjoy food offered by food trucks while lounging on blankets under the stars.

Ambler Hall is proud to host chamber music June 12-15, with four performances from the popular Miró Quartet, as well as a one-time performance June 14 from the Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma and Trio Solari. The Burchfield Brothers, renowned for their variety style encompassing such genres as classical, jazz, Appalachian, and gospel, will play inspirational favorites at First Baptist Church.

Woolaroc is the place to be June 16, with Disney classics performed by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. Patrons can lounge on blankets or in chairs and bring dinner to enjoy while listening. Fireworks over the lake are the ultimate ending to a peaceful, entertaining evening with the family.

“We have lots of family-friendly activities such as the June 8 kickoff celebration that includes music, food, face painting, balloon animals, and a bouncy house,” says Susan Albert, PR/marketing director for the OK Mozart Music Festival. “There are special activities lined up just for children.” Included in these activities are storytelling, crafts, a paint and pizza party, and princess tea. For the princess tea, children can come dressed as their favorite princess, eat hors d’oeuvres, and drink tea to the background music of a harpist.

Vendors include multiple food trucks and the Copper Bar & Restaurant providing a variety of food for festivalgoers. Copper offers a range of appetizers such as crab cakes, deep-fried deviled eggs, and roasted red pepper hummus. There’s something for every palate.

“The OK Mozart Festival celebrates all genres of music with top-notch musicians and performing artists from across the state and nation presented in a weeklong tribute to the arts,” says Albert.

OK Mozart
Various Locations | Bartlesville
June 8-16