OBU to host annual Symphonic Winds, Bison Jazz Orchestra concert March 11

By Chelsea Weeks, Editor-In-Chief

As the spring semester brings deadlines and due dates, to also brings a variety of beneficial events.

Oklahoma Baptist University’s College of Fine Arts hosted the annual Symphonic Winds and Bison Jazz Concert Monday, March 11 at 7:30 in Potter Auditorium in Raley Chapel.

The concert is free to attend and will include four musical pieces from the Bison Jazz Orchestra, several pieces from the Symphonic Winds Ensemble and multiple individual solos.

“My favorite aspect of the concert is seeing all of our band students in one place,” assistant professor of instrumental music Justin Pierce said.

Pierce said they have been hosting a Jazz orchestra and Symphonic Winds combined concert for the past five years.

“We have a jazz band and symphonic winds ensemble here at OBU and both of them perform about 2-3 times per semester on campus,” he said.

Directed by Pierce, the Bison Jazz Orchestra consists of a 20-piece ensemble and performs music ranging from swing era to contemporary pieces.

They perform on Bison Hill at the biannual Night of Jazz and many other campus events. In 2018, the BJO traveled to Russia to tour the country performing, which included the House of Culture in St. Petersburg.

Directed by assistant professor of music and director of band Dr. Teresa Purcell, the Symphonic Winds Ensemble consists of over 20 musicians.

They have played on Bison Hill for a variety of events and in churches in the surrounding communities and over 10 states across the country.

Alex Benito a junior instrumental performance major plays the alto saxophone in the Bison Jazz Orchestra and the Symphonic Winds Ensemble said he looks forward to the upcoming concert.

“This concert is exciting to me because we’ll be playing some very unique and challenging pieces of music,” Bento said. “One of my favorite aspects of being in a music ensemble is the experience of collaborating with other great musicians to overcome the various challenges each piece of music presents.”

Pierce said the bands have been preparing for the concert since the beginning of the spring semester.

“In this case, we’ve put in many rehearsals over several weeks to prepare for this upcoming concert, so I’m excited to share our work this upcoming Monday!” Benito said. “Please don’t miss what will surely be a great musical experience and invite your family and friends to enjoy the concert with you.”

The concert is free and open to the public.

“We’d like everybody to know that there will be a variety of music in this concert, so there will definitely be something for everyone,” Pierce said. “We’d love to see everyone there.”

Bisonette Glee Club to tour Oklahoma, Texas

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

OBU’s Bisonette Glee Club will head out on tour for the first time in three years Thurs. March 7. 

The Bisonettes take their music on the road to share it with a wider audience by singing at out-of-state churches and schools,” senior English major and president of Bisonette Glee Club Melody Pierce said. 

We haven’t been on tour since 2016 so this is new for most members. The four-year members have the opportunity of reliving fond memories from three years ago. 

The ensemble will perform seven times before returning to OBU late Sun. March 10. 

Performance locations include Dickson OK High SchoolEra TX High School, Lamar Baptist Church in Arlington TX, Southwest High School in Fort Worth TX, Woodlake Baptist Church in Carrollton TX, First Baptist Church in Possum Kingdom TX and First Baptist Church in Altus OK. 

Because of the full schedule, the trip is an intensive music experience for the students. 

I find the major benefit for me is the way the music will become part of us — singing it 7 times in 4 days makes it part of your soul,” professor of music and Bisonette Glee Club director Dr. James Vernon said. “I love seeing the students make it their own.” 

Performing seven times in four days can be tiring for students. 

The greatest challenge is exhaustion,” Pierce said. Singing several times a day and traveling a lot is not easy for anyone. Another challenge is the trip away from school–on the tour bus there will be several girls at any given time working on papers and reading and studying for tests. 

However, Pierce agrees that such continual interaction with the music, improves the ensemble’s musical ability. 

There is nothing like our final performance of the tour where we know our songs best and are also the most exhausted we can be,” Pierce said. “It is difficult and beautiful all at the same time. I see it as our best performance. It is also the point where I feel closest to my fellow Betties. 

The group tries to make sure that students have the time and space they need to study despite the busyness of the trip. 

They have to miss a couple of days of class, and for some, some work opportunities,” Vernon said. “It is also hard to study and concentrate on the bus, but we try to minimize the distractions to students and get them to use the travel time to their advantage.” 

Students will also have time to relax and enjoy the trip. 

There are also times for the Betties to rest and grow closer to one another,” Pierce said. There is always a lot of laughter involved. 

Sat. March 9, in the middle of the tour, the group will have a break from performing. 

“On Sat., we will tour the Fort Worth Museum District, then take in a musical at the famous Casa Manana Theater there,” Vernon said. 

These kinds of events allow the members of the group to grow closer relationship with one another. 

My favorite part of tour is spending time with other members of the Bisonettes,” Pierce said. We’re comprised of a diverse range of majors so often the only time we are together is during our hour-long rehearsals. Tour gives us an opportunity to spend more time together and get to know each other better. 

The travel also gives the Bisonette Glee Club the chance to perform for different audiences than their usual audience at OBU. 

Any time you travel together, it creates an entire new set of experiences for students,” Vernon said. “They are also singing to different audiences – varied audiences  than normal. Sometimes they will sing for audiences who know what good choral music should sound like, and other times they will sing for people who have never heard a women’s choir sing.” 

Taking OBU’s music outside of OBU’s immediate community is an essential aspect of the tour. 

It is important to take our music off-campus – to share our talents with as many people as possible,” Vernon said “It is also a recruiting opportunity for the University – not just for the music program.” 

Students are able to share their enthusiasm for OBU’s music program with the communities they visit. 

It also helps us to share about the wonderful music program we have at OBU–especially the exceptional Women’s Glee Club,” Pierce said. 

The tour is a celebration of the Bisonette member’s love of music. 

The best blessing is being able to be a part of the choir community and the moments of laughter and beauty that we share together,” Pierce said. 

The student’s participating in the tour is voluntary. 

We do not have to tour or do run-out concerts each semester – but we do it because we love to sing, and we love spreading the good news of OBU to as many people as possible,” Vernon said. I admire these ladies’ energy, sacrifice, and attitudes when they perform off campus. They are outstanding ambassadors for OBU.” 

University Chorale and True Voice concert March 6

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor  (Courtesy photo/The Bison)

University Chorale and True Voice will hold a joint concert March 6 in Yarborough Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

University Chorale is OBU’s largest choral ensemble. Their co-performer, True Voice, is an a capella ensemble. Burton H. Patterson professor of music, Dr. Brent Ballweg leads both groups.

True Voice will perform first and both ensembles will perform a wide range of music from a large variety of cultural backgrounds and languages. They will perform the secular pieces “When God Dips His Love,” “Power in Praisin” and “And Can It Be.” True Voice’s secular set includes Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” “Once Upon a Time” arranged by OBU alumni Paul Langford and “Salseo.”

The musical selections will include jazz, gospel and hymns.

The second portion of the concert will feature University Chorale, which includes several students who perform in both ensembles. University Chorale’s musical selection will be quite similar in range to True Voice’s selections.

“The University Chorale will present an eclectic program dealing with Spring, nature, and love,” Ballweg said.

University Chorale’s selections will include “L’ultimo di di Maggio,” “Õhtul,” “Dieu! qu’il la fait bon regarder!”, “How do I love thee?” and “Jabberwocky” by Sam Pottle.

“[It] exposes our students to a great variety of musical challenges, musical styles, texts and languages,” Ballweg said.

“It’s a little more secular and we’re doing a lot of foreign texts that I’m excited about,” junior theatre major and music minor, Anna Tyler, said. Learning to sing numerous languages, however, is not an easy task.

“In addition to the Italian, Estonian, French, and English on this concert, for our April concert the University Chorale is also working on pieces in Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Zulu, Mandarin and Spanish,” Ballweg said.

“The literature can sometimes be kind of challenging, like the music that we sing, so just staying like up to date with it just to make sure that you’re like up to snuff like with the whole choir cause it’s a team effort,” Tyler said.

However, the rehearsal process was also rewarding.

“Being able to ‘own’ these pieces after only five weeks of rehearsal,” Ballweg said. “That’s a real challenge to master the notes and expressive intricacies of the pieces in such a short time.”

Tyler spoke of her experience both rehearsing for the performance and as a two-year member of University Chorale, very positively.

“We’re experiencing more different styles of music, and I think that it’ll be really fun for an audience to see,” Tyler said.

She said the atmosphere in Chorale is highly supportive.

“It’s a lot of fun, and you definitely become a family when your part of Chorale,” she said. “I think singing and music in general are very important because I feel like music has a way of expressing things and emoting emotions that can’t be expressed if they weren’t written in music. It just pulls at your heartstrings in a certain way,” Tyler said.

University Chorale and True Voice’s joint concert provides an opportunity for students to explore some of the emotions that music can both evoke and express. The performance is free and open to the public.