Classical chamber music has been one of the mainstays of the OK Mozart International Festival ever since its inception 30 years ago. And now, as a legendary phenomenon in American music festival history, the OKM Festival will launch its 30th anniversary season with two important offerings of chamber repertoire.
First will be the Daytime Classical Chamber Music Series, which takes place at 2 p.m. daily Monday through Friday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The first two afternoon chamber concerts will highlight the dynamic Miró Quartet and renowned guest pianist Jon Kimura Parker. The remainder of the week will feature the Miró Quartet.
One of America’s highest-profile chamber groups, Miró Quartet was founded at Oberlin Conservatory. As a favorite at numerous summer festivals, they captivate audiences and critics around the world with their startling intensity and fresh perspective. They also serve as the Faculty String Quartet-in-Residence at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas, Austin.
Miró Quartet takes its name from the Spanish artist, Joan Miró, whose surrealist works — with subject matter drawn from the realm of memory and imaginative fantasy — are some of the most original of the 20th century. Comprising the quartet are Daniel Ching, violin; William Fedkenheuer, violin; John Largess, viola; and Joshua Gindele, cello.
Parker will join them to perform some of the most beloved chamber music for piano and strings and then, on Tuesday, will also give a recital and talk.
A veteran of the international concert stage, “Jackie” Parker has performed as guest soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Wolfgang Sawallisch in Carnegie Hall, toured Europe with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Andre Previn, and shared the stage with Jessye Norman at Berlin’s Philharmonie.
A true Canadian ambassador of music, he has given command performances for Queen Elizabeth II, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Japan. H is also an Officer of The Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian honor.
Spencer Prentiss/Becky Wallace Chamber Concert
On Tuesday evening, the OK Mozart Festival will showcase not one, but two, evening performances of the Spencer Prentiss/Becky Wallace Chamber Concert. This time the featured artists will be the Amici New York Woodwind Octet and the Miró Quartet.
Named for two of Bartlesville’s most ardent classical music aficionados, again both concerts take place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church — the first performance at 5:30 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m.
The program will be comprised of Schubert’s “String Quartet No. 13 in A minor Rosamunde” and Beethoven’s “String Quartet in F Major, Opus 18. No. 1” as performed by the Miró Quartet, along with Beethoven’s “Octet for Winds in Eb Major, Opus 103” played by the Amici New York Woodwind Octet.
Members of the Amici Woodwind Octet include Diane Lesser and William Meredith, oboe; Pavel Vinnitsky and Dean LeBlanc, clarinet; Charles McCracken and William Hestand, bassoon; and Julia Pilant and Leise Ballou, horn.
The annual chamber music offering was initially dedicated to the late Spencer Prentiss who was associate director of the patent division for Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville. Interestingly, young Prentiss spent his formative years in the nation’s capital, which his ancestors had helped to settle. He followed his father and grandfather in attending George Washington University, earning his degree with distinction from the school of engineering.
There, he taught freshman chemistry for two years and by his own admission was the “worst shot on the best rifle team in the country.” After graduation, he pursued graduate studies at MIT, earning a doctorate in physical chemistry, writing his doctoral dissertation on the freezing points of electrolytes. In 1942, he joined the staff of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, doing research on a wide range of wartime uses of oxygen.
In 1946 he came to Bartlesville, where he continued to make history — and music. Prentiss had a passion for orchestra and chamber music. In college he had played cello and, in 1957, he was one of the original members of the Phillips Symphony — predecessor of the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra. He also sang bass in several choirs.
His musical interests extended to the repair of musical instruments, especially old string instruments, and his personal collection included some that dated to the 17th century.
It was in June of 2012, upon the death of longtime OKM supporter and volunteer extraordinaire Becky Wallace, that the name of the chamber concert was altered to Spencer Prentiss/Becky Wallace Chamber Music Concert, in honor of the two avid music lovers.
Wallace was more than merely a very generous OKM patron. She also tirelessly worked as part of the festival staff, serving as volunteer coordinator and house manager, coordinating the volunteer ushers at the Bartlesville Community Center.
From her earliest years, Wallace had been involved with music and the arts, studying with arts local legends. First she studied piano in grade school, then elocution with Verian Chaney and a group that presented KWON radio dramas, then ballet with Suzanne Bettis and Charlotte Lyke.
While still in high school, she even taught ballet. She was also an accomplished equestrian and a lifelong animal lover, particularly of cats. While she dedicated her life to community service, her interests covered a diversity of other fields as well — collecting dolls, hats, books, quilts and china. She was active in the Oklahoma League of Women Voters, serving several terms as president and also on its regional and state boards.
In 1993 she received an award from the Allied Arts and Humanities Council of Bartlesville for her “long and dedicated service to the arts.”
The OK Mozart Festival named its annual chamber music concert as a tribute to the two outstanding individuals who served the community and the arts with such gusto and grace.