L’Amore D’Italia Ball will honor OK Mozart champions

This year, OK Mozart patrons will enjoy the fascinating intrigue of a lavish masquerade ball as part of the 2015 festival. A formal dinner-dance will transport guests to the magical realms of 14th century balls in Venice, Italy. The setting: the expansive ballroom of the Bartlesville Hilton Garden Inn.

Set for Monday, June 8 from 7-10 p.m., the evening will begin with a festival tradition — that of having Victorian costumed greeters welcoming guests as they arrive in long gowns and tuxedoes.

Each guest will receive a mask to help turn the occasion into a guessing game of who’s who. From there couples will drift through the ballroom entrance to be introduced to the honorees, individuals who have championed the cause of the OK Mozart Festival. A sumptuous Italian dinner will follow, then Maestro Constantine Kitsopoulos will raise his baton for the waltzing to begin and patrons will dance the night away to the melodies of Italy played by the Amici New York Orchestra.

Ornate masks will be provide to attendees and etched wine glasses at each place setting will be given as a take-home momento of the occasion. Two couples will be honored as this year’s OK Mozart champions — Charlie and Julie Daniels, and Bill Kurtis and his daughter, Mary Kristin Kurtis.

Charlie and

Julie Daniels

Charlie and Julie Daniels first attended the OK Mozart Festival in 1989 after returning to Bartlesville from nine years in London. They fell in love with the festival and have been concertgoers ever since. Along the way they became donors and volunteers, presented Showcase Events and hosted Mozart functions in their home. Charlie joined the Board of Directors and has served as chairman since 2004.

Childhood piano lessons and grade school field trips where they sat on folding wooden seats to hear the Oklahoma City Symphony did not make them fans of classical music. But they did take full advantage of the music scene in London. In the years before their two sons were born, the two of them attended concerts several times a week. It was in the “cheap seats” that they learned there is much more to the harpsichord than the Addams Family theme music. They became enchanted with chamber music and found opera to be a spiritual experience.

“What a joy it was to come home to Bartlesville and find all of this and more offered by the OK Mozart Festival,” said Charlie Daniels.

Julie Daniels is a former Bartlesville mayor, and Charlie Daniels served as vice president of the school board. She is a member of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission, while he is a long-time member of the Price Tower board.

They consider youth service organizations to be of paramount importance. Charlie Daniels is president of the Cherokee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a Silver Beaver and has been Scoutmaster of Troop 3 since 2002. He is past president of the Washington County Soccer Association, coached soccer and was a referee. He is vice president of the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which puts school choice within the reach of low-income families.

Julie Daniels served as president of the Boys and Girls Club of Bartlesville for the past three years and is now a member of the Capital Campaign Cabinet. The Southwest Region of Boys and Girls Clubs of America named her a Champion for Youth in 2014. Volunteering at school while her sons were growing up, she served as president of the BHS Parent Support Group and Choir Booster Club. She was also president of the YWCA and Service League of Bartlesville.

Today, the Daniels enjoys recreating history for young people. He shares his knowledge of Roman military history with schools in two states, and she loves talking with youth groups about Bartlesville and energy history at the famed local historical site, the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 oil well.

Charlie Daniels spent 37 years as an attorney with Phillips Petroleum Company and was vice president and general counsel of Phillips Europe Africa. He earned his law degree at Oklahoma University and Julie Daniels completed hers at the University of Tulsa. They both graduated Phi Beta Kappa from OU and are full of Sooner spirit.

Bill Kurtis and

Mary Kristin Kurtis

Father and daughter duo Bill and Mary Kristin Kurtis say they are honored to have been named champions of the OK Mozart Festival. Bill Kurtis, an acclaimed documentary host and producer, network and major market news anchor celebrating his 40th year in the field of broadcasting, was raised in Independence, Kan., where in high school he was a star football player and his wife-to-be was homecoming queen.

Graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he attended Washburn University School of Law where he earned a juris doctor degree before beginning a television career in Topeka, Kan. In Chicago, he moved on to the network level at CBS where he anchored the CBS Morning News and contributed to CBS Reports. From there he went on to become a documentarian on A&E Network with the award-winning “New Explorers” series, “Investigative Reports” and “Cold Case Files,” and “American Justice,” as well as “Investigating History” for The History Channel.

In his home state of Kansas, Kurtis is a rancher, small businessman, supporter of small-town America and conservationist. His 7,000-acre Red Buffalo Ranch borders Sedan, Kan., where he produces cattle for his grass-fed/finished Tallgrass Beef Company. Nearby, his sister Jean Kurtis Schodorf and daughter Mary Kristin Kurtis maintain the Kansas home site of famed children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder at the Little House on the Prairie Museum, located on a farm once owned by Bill Kurtis’ parents, the late Wilma Horton Kurtis and Brigadier General William A. Kurtis.

Mary Kristin, who was born in Chicago, enjoyed spending the summers of her teen years on her grandparent’s farm, later migrating to San Francisco where she spent 20 years in the construction business working as a building permit expediter. Eventually, she and her partner, David Parsons, moved to Sedan, to take over management of her father’s ranch where they offer guided hunts and hunting leases.

After selling off most of the cattle and horses, they acquired buffalo and currently work a herd of 60 on their 10,000 acres, with conservation of the native prairie becoming their prime focus.

“I’ve been moved by the prairie,” she says. “I’m pretty much an urban girl that has embraced the prairie life.”

She also manages the Red Buffalo Coffee and Gift Shop in downtown Sedan, where custom flavored, fresh-ground coffees and unique gift items are a mainstay. Recently, she and Parsons have also taken on restoration of the historic “art deco” Gregg Movie Theater where they are moving the viewings into the 21st century digital era, showing a variety of classics on weekends.

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