BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The 2017 OK Mozart Music Festival is gearing up for its 33rd year and features classical, pop, country, Broadway and inspirational performing artists. On a classical note, the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra will perform twice — at 2 p.m. June 11 at the Bartlesville Community Center, and then at 8 p.m. June 16 at the Woolaroc Outdoor Concert. On June 11, the orchestra will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Overture to “The Magic Flute,” Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” and the world premiere of Jerod Tate’s “Muscogee Hymn Suite,” sung by Tulsa Children’s Chorus, baritone soloist Grant Youngblood and traditional Creek singer Curtis Scott. Guest conductor is Gerhardt Zimmermann.
Tate, born in Norman, is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and is dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition. “We had been wanting to work with Jerod for a few years. He is a well-known composer so it seemed like a natural fit,” said Tim McFadden, TSO Orchestra Manager.
“Muscogee Hymn Suite” is an adaptation and orchestration of traditional Muscogee (Creek) church hymns in the Muscogee language. As missionaries traveled across the early U.S. into Indian country, they became one of the first to document native languages and create translations of the Bible and other Christian texts, including church hymns. This blending of music and language led to a new series of hybrid music, composed by tribal citizens, according to Tate.
“Muscogee Hymn Suite” was commissioned by TSO, with direction from Ron Predl, TSO executive director, and made possible with the Mid-America Arts Alliance Artistic Innovations grant. Predl said, “Tulsa Symphony could not be more excited to have commissioned one of Oklahoma’s and this country’s most gifted composers, Jerod Tate, to create an original work for orchestra and children’s choir. Equally exciting is the premiere of the new work as a highlight of the 2017 OK Mozart Music Festival.”
Youngblood is Lumbee Indian from North Carolina and hailed as a baritone “with a robust sound with ringing top notes.” His many orchestral appearances have garnered enthusiastic praise for his “smooth lyric baritone voice bringing beautiful shading and color to the score.” Scott, Muscogee (Creek), was born in Okemah, is an enrolled Muscogee citizen of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town and of the Deer clan.
Scott is a first language Mvskoke speaker and avid Creek hymn historian. Tate’s works have been commissioned and performed by National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, San Francisco Symphony and Chorus, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Tate also provided incidental spots that were included in the theme music for Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder,” which was filmed largely in Bartlesville and Pawhuska.
On June 16, TSO moves out to the hills of Woolaroc where it will perform selections from Disney movie themes, while the audience enjoys a picnic-style atmosphere, capped by fireworks.
Other festival concert artists include Michael Martin Murphey with the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra, Wilson Phillips, Chris Mann with the BSO, Brightmusic’s Trio Solari, the Burchfield Brothers and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s Modern Oklahoma Jazz Orchestra. The annual festival also includes Showcase Events that feature additional musical groups, educational programs and children’s activities. For tickets, visit bartlesvillecommunitycenter.com.