By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman Philharmonic Director Richard Zeilinski said it all when he said, “There’s so many different kinds of energy in the room”.
The Norman Philharmonic joined forces with the OKC Jazz Orchestra to perform a “Classical Meets Jazz” concert and jazz orchestra repertoire Sunday at the Nancy O’Brian Performing Arts Center.
“It was wonderful. It was cool,” Zielinski said after the performance. “From Beethoven to Stavinsky to Bezit and Bernstein. You know, Bernstein kinda ties it all together for us, because he was such a great classical musician but had, as they say, incredible jazz chops.”
Attendees also had the pleasure of watching Barry Switzer, former head football coach at the University of Oklahoma, counduct a piece. Switzer was well-received as he took the stage to conduct main themes from “The Magnificent Seven,” arranged by Jerry Neil Smith.
“Maestro Switzer, he knocked it out of the park,” Zielinski said.
Switzer got involved after he and Zielinski had a conversation about “The Magnificent Seven” and Zielinski asked if he wanted to be a guest conductor.
“(Switzer) has a history with
music because his family all play the piano and there was always classical music around him at his house. He knows a lot about classical music but he really loves the musical scores that go with a lot of the American cowboy movies,” Zielinski said.
The concert started out with Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture,” transitioning to Old American Songs with Copland’s pieces “Simple Gifts,” “The Boatman’s Dance” and a piece that sent the audience into a laughter, titled “I Bought Me a Cat.”
Guest soloist Kim Josephson, performing Old American Songs, held the audience captive with each of his performances with the Norman Philharmonic.
Next up was “Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra” as the group performed Igor Stravinsky, followed by “The Toreador’s Song” from “Carmen.”
The audience was then hit with an explosion of sound from trumpets, saxophones and trombones as the OKC Jazz Orchestra set a new tone, radiating a different kind of energy from the stage.
“These are talented musicians because they switch gears on a dime. I’m really proud of what they did and what they brought to the community,” Zielinski said.
The piece “The Farewell,”a tribute to Louis Armstrong, performed before the final song was said to paint a picture of the celebration that comes after a New Orleans funeral. Thad Jones was commissioned to write the piece to commemorate Armstrong, who passed away in 1971.
The night ended with Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” arranged by Jack Mason. Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Siano was featured on saxophone.
As the last notes of music lingered in the air, a short silence preceded a burst of applause, followed by a standing ovation, ending the musical journey from classical to jazz.
“A big thanks to the community for coming out and supporting this event,” Zielinski said.
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