BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The OK Mozart Festival is known for bringing world-renowned performers to Bartlesville for a weeklong immersion of music and arts. But this spring, the festival switched gears and took more than a dozen Bartlesville residents on a four-night tour of New York City, to take in the sights and sounds of The Big Apple.
The trip was all about culture, according to OKM Showcase Director Grace Farmer, who helped plan the trip in conjunction with Spears Travel. The excursion was intended to recreate the OK Mozart travel portion as in the early years of the festival. “We wanted to do something musical, and figured New York was the best place to do it,” she said.
At the top of the list was Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts — home to the New York Philharmonic symphony orchestra. The Philharmonic performed Strauss’s iconic “Also sprach Zarathustra,” immortalized in popular culture in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The concert also included Stravinsky’s “Funeral Song” and the premiere of Tansy Davies’ “Forest,” with guest artists from the London Symphony.
“It was just a wonderful performance, a packed house at Lincoln Center,” Farmer said. “If you’re looking for something musical, that was the place to be.”
Next up was a show on the dazzling strip of New York often referred to as the Great White Way — Broadway. The group took in a performance of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” which tells the story of King’s rise to stardom in the music industry. “The music was absolutely fabulous,” Farmer said.
The group also somberly visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Penn., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
“The crowds of people that were there, and even inside, no one really spoke to each other because it was just a solemn thing to see,” said Farmer.
Bartlesville resident Harry Farnsworth, who had been to New York City before but never to the 9/11 Memorial, said it was the key reason he and his wife, Betty, decided to go along on the OK Mozart trip. “That was the thing that really made us go,” he said. “The Broadway show and the Philharmonic were just extras that were very nice to do. … We enjoyed the trip a great deal.”
The trip included free time to explore “The City That Never Sleeps,” and many of the participants took tours to see many of the city’s famous landmarks, including as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, as well as SoHo, Greenwich Village and iconic eatery Tavern on the Green in Central Park. And, each night, they were back at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, just minutes from Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden and Fifth Avenue.
This July, OKM plans to take a sold-out day trip to Baldwin, Kan., and climb aboard the Kansas Belle Dinner Train for a three-course meal, train ride and World War II USO show. Farmer hopes the successful New York City adventure and the Kansas day trip will be just the tip of the iceberg over the next few years. “Take a travel experience with OK Mozart!,” she said.
For more information about the 2017 OK Mozart Music Festival, visit www.okmozart.com.