The Norman Transcript

November 26, 2012

A simple gift

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Church pews filled for Norman Philharmonic concert, fundraiser

The pews at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church were filled Sunday afternoon but it wasn’t for a church service. It was for “A Simple Gift.”

The Norman Philharmonic presented “A Simple Gift” at the church Sunday to help raise awareness and money for Food and Shelter. Their goal was to raise money to provide 500 nights of shelter for homeless families.

Something many people might not have known is that Food and Shelter grew out of McFarlin Memorial years ago, said Andy Paden, president of Norman Philharmonic.

“We are so thankful for so many things in this community,” Paden said. “(Food and Shelter) takes such great care of people in our community who are in a transition phase.”

During a performance of Howard Hanson’s 1945 Serenade for Flute, Harp and Strings, Op. 35, a slideshow was shown on TV screens throughout the church, telling several stories of those who are homeless.

Many of the people featured in the slideshow said Food and Shelter was essential to the community and described it as a “sanctuary” or a place of comfort, a place where they have friends.

Everyone has their own story of how they ended up on the streets, but a common struggle has been trying to transition out of homelessness.

“Once you get in, it is just really hard to get out,” a message in the slideshow said.

Those telling their stories also battled feelings of depression, hopelessness, helplessness or embarrassment.

Rev. Linda Harker, senior pastor of McFarlin Memorial, said it was an honor and privilege to celebrate the opportunity they had Sunday.

“Thank you for your heart and for being part of such a great community,” Harker said.

Paden also gave a special thanks to Denney & Barrett Attorneys at Law, for sponsoring the concert and to The Norman Transcript for raising the community’s awareness about the event. He also thanked April Dozier, executive director of Food and Shelter, for all the work she has done.

Many of the attendees enjoyed the opportunity to listen to the philharmonic perform, which was led by Richard Zielinski, music and artistic director.

“I really enjoyed hearing ‘Appalachian Spring’ live,” said Daphne Fix, of Norman. “To hear it in person was very unique and a wonderful opportunity.”

Fix said she had never heard the song performed live but had studied it over the years.

“It’s marvelous that Norman has a philharmonic. It’s something very special we haven’t had,” said Nancy Gray, of Norman.

Gray attended the concert with her sister, Judy Wisley, of Norman, who said she particularly enjoyed “Ballet for Martha.”

The concert opened with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, which features flute, oboe violin and trumpet, including OU faculty artists Beth Sievers, concertmaster; Karl Sievers, trumpet; Valerie Watts, flute; and Oklahoma City Philharmonic oboist Lisa Harvey-Reed.

Next on the program was Howard Hanson’s 1945 Serenade for Flute, Harp and Strings, Op. 35, featuring Valerie Watts on flute and Gaye LeBlanc on harp. That was followed by Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring Suite” performed by the Norman Phil from the original score, with projection of the famed 1944 ballet choreographed by Martha Graham. Special thanks are due to the Martha Graham Foundation.

Also on the program were Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (A Little Night Music) and Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 3, “The Camp Meeting.” The concert concluded with a holiday presentation of the Christmas hymn “What Child is This” and a new work by the winner of the Norman Phil’s Christmas Carol Competition.

The concert was funded in part by the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma, the Norman Arts Council and the Norman Hotel Fund, McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, the Kerr Foundation and the Ad Astra Foundation in Oklahoma City.

For more information about Food and Shelter, visit For more information about the Norman Philharmonic, visit



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