Smiles and laughter filled the Seretean Center on Wednesday morning as youngsters throughout the region were treated to storytelling paired with instrumental music during a music education concert on the Oklahoma State University campus.
The performance was one of the many events planned during the week-long inaugural McKnight Center Chamber Music Festival, which features eight visiting musicians.
“We have the best of the best here,” said Mark Blakeman, Thoma executive director of the McKnight Center. “We are fortunate to have these wold-class musicians here.”
Blakeman kicked off the roughly 50-minute program by asking and learning that about half of the students in attendance had every seen a concert before.
“You are going to see and feel and understand the power of music,” he said.
Marc Moore, Superintendent of Stillwater Public Schools, also addressed the crowd, thanking Blakeman for the partnership formed between the McKnight Center and Stillwater Public Schools.
Every child from every grade will have the opportunity for an educational experience every year at the performing arts center.
“My goal is to create, through partnership with the Stillwater and other school systems, a comprehensive and robust K-12 arts education program that will enhance classroom teaching, support the work of the teaches and expand the understanding of students,” Blakeman previously said.
The new facility located on the corner of University Avenue and Hester Street is scheduled to open in October 2019 with a performance by the New York Philharmonic.
But instead of waiting for the facility to open to bring top talent to Oklahoma, Blakeman brought in musicians that are performing in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Stillwater.
Music educator and composer Bruce Adolphe hosted the music education concert Wednesday.
“How many of you have every enjoyed a storybook with fantastic pictures?” Adolphe asked the audience.
He performed for the crowd by telling stories – including his ever-changing version of “Little Red Riding Hood” – as musicians Amy Schwartz Moretti (violin), Robert Diaz (viola), Christopher Costanza (cello) Todd Levy (clarinet), and Anne-Marie McDermott (piano), played during a youth and family concert entitled “My What Big Ears You Have! The better to hear you with, my dears!”
Siblings Henry Kimbrough, 10, and Yixin Kimbrough, 9, homeschool students, watched the performances from the front row with bright smiles on their faces.
Henry said is was educational and that he learned a lot.
“I liked the music and how it went along with the stories,” Yixin said.
The McKnight Center Chamber Music Festival concludes with a free community concert 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Seretean Center.
It is titled “Just Great Music!” and features all eight visiting musicians, whose biography’s can be found at mcknightcenter.org.
“It will be a really fun, wonderful concert,” Blakeman said. “It is a gift to the community of Stillwater.”