Orchestra celebrates Hansford’s final concert before retiring

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

The OBU Division of Music will soon bid farewell to one of its longest-serving individuals.

Dr. Jim Hansford has already been retired from his role as of Burton H. Patterson Professor of Music for quite some time. However, this spring the OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra’s spring concert marked Hansford’s retirement from his role as the orchestra’s director and conductor – a role he has filled since the group began 20 years ago.

“We have been so lucky to have Dr. Hansford here at OBU,” junior music education major and flutist and piccoloist Lauren Rivers said. “He truly cared for each and every member in the orchestra and the fine arts program would not be the same if it wasn’t for all of the years and wisdom he put into this program.”

Other students agree.

“Dr. Hansford is a dedicated musician and has given so much time to help this orchestra, I say this because he deserves to be recognized as this is his last concert,” freshman worship studies and women’s ministry major and second violinist Alethea,” Jade Coffey said.

Hanford passion for music has fueled his long career as a music educator and conductor.

“Just seeing Dr. Hansford conduct, it is evident that he loved music and loves being a director,” Coffey said. “His passion for music just reminded me that no matter the age always do what you love.”

This same passion for music shows in his enthusiasm during rehearsals.

“He would get so excited when a piece came together, as we have so many instruments that it is very easy for one little thing to go wrong,” Coffey said. “He just gets so excited for the little victories.”

All of the little victories the OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra makes helps the students in the orchestra develop artistically.

“I have enjoyed seeing the growth of the orchestra,” Rivers said. “Throughout my time in the orchestra, we have made tremendous progress throughout the music we have played.”

Hansford encourages the students to take on difficult musical tasks.

“During the time I’ve been in the orchestra, Dr. Hansford always challenged the orchestra,” Rivers said. “This last year, he had me playing the piccolo part which has been extremely challenging. After a lot of hard work, I have learned to enjoy this instrument and I owe it all to Dr. Hansford.”

The OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra is a joint musical effort of OBU students, faculty and community members that was founded by Hansford. The ensemble comes together in weekly rehearsals to prepare for its performances.

“One of the biggest challenges is that we only meet once a week which isn’t always enough time to put together an entire concert,” Rivers said.

Like many OBU music ensembles, handling these scheduling difficulties in one of the largest challenges the group faces, especially during busy parts of the spring semester.

“Some challenges for be-ing in the orchestra this year was mainly trying to juggle the degree, homework, study sessions, and practicing all in a week or even on days or rehearsal,” Coffey said. “Yet Dr. Hansford was very understanding of life getting in the way but made sure we kept up the amazing standard that the orchestra has.”

This spring, as it bids its director and founder goodbye, the orchestra prepared for its spring concert 7:30 p.m., April 26, in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. The concert featured many pieces that hold a special place in Hansford’s heart.

“I decided to include several of my favorite musical works for this final concert with the orchestra,” Hansford said in a press release April 16. “Upon reflecting on my 46 years as a band director, I have programmed a couple of my favorite wind band works that have been transcribed for orchestra.”

The works performed included a variety of musical styles, ranging from John Barry’s “Somewhere in Time,” to Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” to Alfred Reed’s “Russian Christmas Music.”

“This year has gone by so fast, we have performed and are preparing to perform so many amazing pieces,” Coffey said. “They all emphasize different instruments and are completely different.”

After the performance, a reception was held to celebrate Hansford full retirement from the OBU faculty and staff, and students also planned a surprise for their director.

“The orchestra has planned on having all the members sign a framed picture of the orchestra,” Rivers said. “Many members have also put together money for a gift card.”


D’Emilio to complete debut year as full-time faculty

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

Newly hired as a full-time assistant professor of music at Oklahoma Baptist University, Kelsey D’Emilio has set up her office to be nearly as soothingly cheerful as she is. Visitors and students stepping into the office are greeted by the sight of soft pastel paintings, a large pastel floral painting on the wall, Victorian-esque chairs and a table lamp surrounded by a shade of little teardrop-shaped prisms.

“She has the greatest office in Raley, I think,” professor of music and dean of the Warren M Angell college of fine arts, Dr. Christopher Mathews said. “It’s like out of a magazine or something, you know, it’s beautiful.”

The close of the spring 2019 semester marks the conclusion of D’Emilio’s first year as a full-time faculty member at OBU, although she has served as an adjunct professor at OBU, prior to joining full-time for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Yet originally teaching was not originally something she expected for her career.

“I never really thought of teaching as something that I’d want, or thought I knew how to do, I guess,” she said. “Even though my masters is in pedagogy and performance, I was really performance driven the whole time. So, it was a new adventure for me – to do that professionally.”

After starting as an adjunct, at OBU, she found that she enjoyed teaching at the college level. “The first day, I was sitting there, and I came home, and I absolutely fell in love with this,” D’Emilio said. “This is the greatest job in the world.”

The journey that led her to the role of collegiate assistant professorship was a winding one, although she knew she loved music from a very young age.

“I always was like a kid, [who] sang and hummed before I spoke, like as a kid. So I [always] was attracted to music,” she said.

However, at first, she was self-conscious about her voice.

“I didn’t sound like any of the kids in choir at church,” she said. “And so, I didn’t ever sing out in church choir – because I sounded different.”

It was only a little while later, that she began to confidently embrace her singing ability.

“I was in the car with my parents. And they put on an album that was, had an opera singer on it, but singing something, not from an opera, but like she was singing operatically,” D’Emilio said. “And I [thought], ‘Well, I can do that.’ I was about 10, and my parents said ‘Okay, sure.’ Then I started singing like myself, as opposed to making my voice sound differently like the other kids sing in choir.”

D’Emilio then started taking voice lessons.

“Finally, when I decided to not compare myself or change myself, I was able to pursue the gift that God gave me,” she said.

Now, as a voice instructor and music professor, she helps students embrace their own natural voices.

“As humans, it’s really easy to compare ourselves,” D’Emilio said. “And then that’s how we feel about ourselves – it’s just the comparison, which is not ideal for something.”

These kinds of comparisons can give music students inaccurate ideas as to what their singing should sound like.

“It can be demotivating,” she said.“It can give us false expectations, what our voice should be able to do,” D’Emilio said. “God made each one of us uniquely. And what we need to do is bring out who He made.”

She encourages students to consider their voice as part of being fearfully and wonderfully made.

“Our voice is a gift from God, and to try to alter it, or change it or compare his gift to another gift that he’s given,” D’Emilio said. “It’s just not something that I encourage them to do.”

For D’Emilio, that incident singing along with an operatic singer in the car as a child helped her begin to realize her vocal potential. It also helped spark a love of opera.

“It’s just a really exciting and powerful medium of art that I feel I really just connected with,” she said. “It’s the whole experience.”

Like other art forms, opera centers around the human experience.

“[Opera is] human stories. written and performed by humans,” she said. “It just happens sometimes to be in another language; it happens to sometimes be in a style that’s from another musical era and they’re just told so beautifully.”

As an Oberlin College and Conservatory student, D’Emilio trained as a classical vocal performer.

“I knew from a young age that that that was my calling was something in music,” D’Emilio said.“And I thought at the time it was performance, I just didn’t realize that my stage would eventually be the classroom and not the operatic stage alone.”

After getting her master’s degree, she moved back to Oklahoma with her husband.

“We both were pursuing professional opera careers and then he wanted to go to law school,” D’Emilio said. “And so, he moved us here to Oklahoma, so I could be near to my parents.”

It was in Oklahoma that D’Emilio started teaching voice.

“I went out to lunch with one of my old musical influences,” she said. “Now, friend, previously teacher, and the Holy Spirit was kind of sitting in on our conversation.”

A week later, she received an email from OBU offering her a job as an adjunct faculty member.

One of most difficult challenges for D’Emilio was developing how to grade vocal work.

“Quantifying vocal growth in a letter grade, I think that was something hard to kind of make something subjective, objective,” she said. “And so I’ve gone through making a bunch of rubrics, and that’s been really helpful.”

One aspect of the work she feels strongly about is encouraging students to enjoy their work.

“Oftentimes, the work that needs to be done can overcome the original thing that brought us to music which is to sing for the joy of God,” she said. “I always ensure that my students [think of] 10 reasons why [they] love singing for [their] next lesson.”

This view of music as for the glory of God can be seen in D’Emilio’s own life and work.

“Her love for Christ is evident when she sings, and when she teaches and when she walks down the halls,” Mathews said.

While students may have difficult times in their studies – especially at the end of a long spring semester, it’s about continuing to try.

“You know, you can climb the mountain, you can just do it one step at a time,” D’Emilio said. “But you have to take the first step.” “

OBU hosts spring University Chorale concert, bids Ballweg farewell

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

OBU Burton H. Patterson professor of music and director of choral activities Dr. D. Brent Ballweg directed his final University Chorale concert Apr. 16.

Ballweg will retire from higher education this summer, to take up a position as associate director and conference liaison for the American Choral Directors Association in their national office located in Oklahoma City.

“I’ve been involved with ACDA for my entire career, those 37 years on the side of volunteering,” Ballweg said.“And I’ve had a bunch of leadership positions in the state, and our regions and national organization and so now, I’m going to be on the flip side, and helping all the folks do the things that I used to be doing in those volunteer situations.”

Known to many of his students as “Dr. B,” Ballweg has served at OBU for nine years.

“He’s played a big role in my life,” senior theatre major McKenzie Reece said.

Reece studied under Ball-weg both in University Chorale and OBU’s acapella ensemble, True Voice – another vocal ensemble directed by Ballweg.

“I have loved getting to work with him and grow with him, underneath him as a student,” she said. “He’s helped me be a more collaborative singer, but also have the confidence, and him and his wife, Mrs. B, they’re like the parents of the Chorale.”

For Dr. Ballweg, the best part of his time at OBU has been getting to know and work with the students.

“It’s always going to get back to the students, to the singers and just the personal relationships that I’ve had,” he said.

At the close of the Chorale concert, the choir sang “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” by Paul Manz. Performing the piece at every show is a tradition that Ballweg has shared with his students both at OBU and at other schools.

“We’ve sung the same benediction song for all these years. The last song we sing is a motet by Paul Manz […the] text comes from Revelation 22 and so that’s always very special,” Ballweg said.

The piece has a special place in the hearts of both the students, alumni and Ballweg.

“I’m so proud of all the work that we’ve done,” Reece said.“And what this group has done over [my] four years [at OBU]. The hardest piece that I think will be singing is ‘E’en So, Lord Jesus.’ That is our anthem as the Chorale. It’s our motto. And it will be very emotional to sing that for the last time.”

Every year when the choir closes the final spring concert, alumni are invited to attend and to join in singing with the choir.

“I’ve [also] let it be known through social media and such that any some Southern Nazarene University Chorale members in the area come to the concert, we want them up there as well,” Ballweg said. “So that would be pretty special just to see a lot of former members of both places.”

Ballweg taught at Southern Nazarene University for 10 years before coming to OBU.

The performance provided a chance for students from multiple schools were Ballweg had taught to come together and celebrate his career achievements.

During his time at OBU, Ballweg taught numerous music class, directed University Chorale and True voice, and taken both groups on tour around the country.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, he led a group of University Chorale students to perform in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

“There’s always been some wonderful performances. […] I think of last year when we sang […] in Carnegie Hall,” Ballweg said. ‘Okay, New York City, that was pretty special for a lot of students.”

Other memories include performing in OBU’s annual Christmas performance.

“I think of several performances of ‘Messiah’ during the Hanging of the Green; they’re very special because I love that work, I love that style,” he said.

OBU Division of Music hosts student recitals

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

Watch the TV screens in the GC or cafeteria for very long, and the plethora of music events this semester becomes quickly noticeable.

Campus is halfway through the semester and student recitals are gearing up.

Over the course of the next month, OBU will present student recitals including Marlee Tate Voice Recital April 5 at 7:30 p.m.; Isaac Reel Composition Recital April 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Jonathan Deichman Trombone Recital April 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Sydney Mathews Voice Recital April 25 at 6:00 p.m.; Mitchell Manlapig Piano Recital April 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Reagan Clark Voice Recital April 26 at 7:30 p.m.; and Emily Wright Voice Recital April 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Each performance will present musicals works from a number of musical styles.

The reason behind student recitals is two-fold: to fulfill music major graduation requirements and to share what they have learned with their friends, family and community.

“It’s the capstone experience for students’ applied lessons they’ve taken throughout their college career,” said Dean of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts and chair of the division of music Christopher Mathews.

All music students are required to hold at least a senior recital.

“You would have studied in most cases with the same professor for three to four years. And then the culmination of that is a […] public performance individually, of your repertoire,” Mathews said.

The length and content of the recitals vary by students’ major areas within music.

“Depending on the area, the level of study, it might be 30 minutes, it might be up to an hour long,” he said. “And it’s just a demonstration of the development of your skills, the breadth of repertoire that you know, […] level of comfort.”

Since the recitals are based around the student’s primary instrument or music composition if that is their focus of study, the recitals include a wide variety of musical styles.

“I will have a big band playing on one piece and most importantly this is a bass trombone recital,” senior music arts major Jonathan De-ichman said. “Bass trombone is a more obscure instrument that people haven’t heard of before so it’ll be something new for a lot of people.”

Even non-performance majors must still complete the recital requirement.

“We keep the standards for performance high, though, regardless of what degree, so the music faculty has said,” Mathews said. “And [it] is in accord with our accrediting body, National Association of Schools of music, that regardless of degree we want students to demonstrate a depth of knowledge and a proficiency in one performing area.”

The performance benefits non-performance music majors by giving them a larger understanding of music as a whole.

“In any of our degrees, but specifically, in this case, music, we’re always concerned with both breadth and depth,” Mathews said.

The recital process presents students with many challenges that require them to grow as a student in order to successfully perform.

“It’s helped with my expression, endurance, and routines for practice and warming up,” Deichman said. “[…] It builds character, as you are trying to push yourself and strive for a specific goal.”

Students must also learn to handle stage fright for their recitals.

“Having to deal with nerves, having to do with your perception of yourself, all of us wish we could be a little better,” Mathews said. “All of us think that someone else’s more talented. And so, I think having to wrestle through, number one, that you really are talented, that you really aren’t gifted, that you’ve worked hard, and that God has given you all in the abilities and gifts that you need to be successful.”

This understanding helps prepare students for graduate music programs.

“If they go to graduate school, they’re going to still be studying in an area; they’re going to always be performing,” Mathews said. “Students of music will always perform at some level.”

For example, OBU faculty members still perform, in faculty recitals.

“One of the elements of the faculty recital is inviting students to join us in the profession,” Mathews said. “And so, as you develop as a career musician, and a career music educator, you’re asking students to come along with you, right, so every faculty member that’s here give a recital, at some point.”

The exact performance expectations for students does vary depending on the students’ specific major.

“Music education students […] only give one recital, and typically they’re a little bit shorter, depending on the student’s desire and ability level,” Mathews said. “Versus a vocal performance, or a piano performance student, who is going to give two recitals that are full-length recitals.”

Music composition students represent a selection of their own compositions often performed by other students, although they might perform some of their works themselves.

All the student recitals allow students an opportunity to celebrate their achievements during their time at OBU.

“The recital provides opportunity for friends and family members to get together and say ‘you really have done good work’,” Mathews said. “‘We’re really proud. We’re impressed with what you’re doing

“Inspired by many: art show by Hailey Black”

By Olivianna Calmes, Assistant Arts Editor

Oklahoma Baptist University has another senior art exhibit coming up. Shawnee’s own senior art major and education minor Hailey Black will be showcasing her art this month. The art will be up from the 9th to the 28th.

“I aspire to someday become an art teacher in order to combine my passions of both art and teaching students,” Black said.

Her passion for art has been fueled by numerous people in her art.

“I am extremely grateful for my high school teachers, college professors, my husband, friends, parents, and family, [all] who have encouraged me and invested in me throughout the years,” she said. “My art professors have taught me so much over the last four years, and I have grown tremendously as an artist. I have definitely been inspired by each of them.”

The art professors at OBU are a mix of talented individuals who each have a wonderful portfolio of their own. Senior art students have freedom with their art shows and can choose a medium or theme for their show.

“There is not necessarily a theme for my senior art show,” Black said. “However, I am interested in several different art mediums and techniques, and my show will display that. My art show will feature paintings, charcoal drawings, pottery, weavings, stained glass, mosaics, and macramé.”

Her pieces were influenced by a number of artists with various tastes.

“One of my drawings was inspired by Georges de La Tour and Rembrandt, while another piece was inspired by Claude Monet, etc.,” Black said. “It is hard to strongly see the influence of certain artists in my show, because I have been influenced and inspired by so many.”

Black’s art will also show a variety of mediums, techniques, and forms. She said that she cannot pick a favorite medium, that is why there will be a variance in her show. One example of her work includes her art show advertisement that can be seen around campus, which is illustrated with a photo and text made to look like stained glass.

In terms of the future, Black already has plans. Black will still be exploring art and the different ways to produce and fine tune it even after graduation.

“I am open to teaching art in different settings; such as, a school, camp, personal classes in my home, etc.” she said. “I am still praying for God to open these doors for me. I also plan to continue to make my own art on the side.”

She feels that she’s learned more than just art techniques at OBU because of the art professors.

“I have learned much more about who I am as a person and an artist,” she said. “I have grown tremendously, and I have become a better artist. I have developed more passions for new areas in art, and I have developed new skills. I’m incredibly grateful for my professors who have taught me new techniques, have encouraged, supported me, have given me proper feedback, have pushed me as an artist, and more. I know that if it weren’t for my professors, my senior show would be much different.”

Senior art shows are very important to an art degree at OBU, and it is interesting to see how each senior shine through their different art styles. Black says that OBU also showed her how to show God through her art to bring Him glory.

“In addition, OBU has helped me combine my art studies with my Christian worldview,” Black said. “I know that God is the ultimate creator, and I believe that art can reflect him.”

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.” 

Dr. Coley guest-directs Three Sisters at OBU

By Olivianna Calmes, Assistant Arts Editor

OBU Theatre department’s next show of the season is coming up at OBU, and auditions have already taken place.  

Three Sisters is guest directed by Dr. David Coley, who used to work at St. Gregory’s University. 

The cast consists of 12 and will be performed April 25th through the 28th. 

Dr. David Coley has a Ph.D. in Theater and has taught at St. Greg’s for 12 years in the theatre department.

He directed and produced shows as well as teaching theatre-related classes. He is friends with OBU’s Director of Theatre Matthew Caron, which is how he got involved with OBU’s theatre program. 

 “When St. Gregs announced they were closing, Matt [Caron] was my first phone call,” Coley said.  

Dr. Coley ended up teaching some classes at OBU, including writing this last fall.  

Last spring Matt [decided he] wanted to do an Anton Checkhov [show] and he knew I really liked Checkhov so he asked me to direct it, and I jumped at the chance,” Coley said. 

Checkhov wrote this show in 1900 and it was based in Moscow, Russia at first. 

Three Sisters was one of Checkhov’s best works, Coley said. The reason he wanted to direct this show in particular is because it showcases a family who is stuck in the midst of societal and cultural change. 

 “I’m always really drawn to stories about people who are victims of history,” he said. They may want this or that but history and culture takes them in a different direction. This family…try as they might, can’t escape the world around them, they are going to be carried along with it. It was written in Russia before the revolution, but Checkhov sensed what was on the horizon. This family has to balance the changes that are happening [all around them]. 

He says that the content of the play has both serious and dramatic elements. 

Checkhov thought his own works were comedies, but most people who watch his shows think they are very serious.  

“[Checkhov] has a very dark strange sense of humor, so that’s something we are going to balance in the show,” Coley said. It is certainly going to play dramatic for many of us but I’m going to try and find that strange levity that he saw, whereas we saw many of these characters as tragic, he saw them as ridiculous, so we’re going to try and balance that.”  

He sees this show as an interesting challenge and is excited to work with OBU to create something unique. 

“The show is in an alley configuration, where the audience sits in both sides of the stage, and I am excited to experience what this show has to offer,” Platter said.

This is different than the last show, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that debuted in February. Another unique part of this show will be the music. 

One of my favorite things to do as a director is to pick the soundtrack, I have some interesting ideas for that,” Coley said. I am [also] looking forward to working with the actors here because they are a very talented bunch. 

Bailey Platter, a sophomore double major in Theatre and Student Ministry, has just been cast in the show and is especially looking forward to participating. 

I’m excited for this show because it will be challenging and will stretch me as an actor because it is realism and Russian,” Platter said. I’ve always wanted to be in a Checkov play, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”  


Senior show displays different aspects of art

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

“My show I hope proves that graphic art and graphic design is not boring commercial art work,” senior graphic design major Caleb Cole said.

Cole presented his senior art show at a reception February 16, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The show will remain on display through March 17 in Oklahoma Baptist University’s Art Building.

Although the show displays the range of Cole’s artwork while a student at OBU –including paintings and drawings – it heavily features his graphic artwork.

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“My show will have commercial art, it will have graphic art, and the difference between when I say graphic design and graphic art [is]: I do have some pieces that are made on a digital platform, but they’re just [graphic] artwork, they don’t serve a commercial purpose at all,” Cole said.

On the other hand, his graphic design work is specifically intended to market or sell a certain item.

One example of this work can be seen on the front of this newspaper, in the form of The Bison’s Masthead logo, which Cole created for a competition the Bison held several years ago.

“Since I’m a graphic design major most of my work will actually be brands and visual identities – so like logos and style guides and promotional posters – which I think is still an art form even though it’s more commercial art, it’s not like high art like oil painting or charcoal,” he said.

However, the commercial aspect of the work will not diminish the final art show.

“The process is still the same, it’ll still fill up a gallery space and look like an exhibit,” he said.

Instead, graphic design art shows can invite viewers to experience an art show in a new way.

“It gives people a chance to see design in a new light, to think about the color, the typefaces, the photography, and also to meet the artist or designer — the visionary — behind it all,” associate professor of graphic design and division chair of art and design Corey Fuller said.

According to Cole, graphic artwork can be appreciated in a show, just like any other art form.

“Just because it’s being sold does not mean that it’s not fun or enjoyable or can bring a smile to someone’s face,” he said.

There are many details that go into these kinds of art projects.

“I’m going to have some packaging products there – fake product that we have created a package for,” Cole said. “And a lot of people when they see a packaging on a soda bottle or any product, they don’t really think about ‘oh, there’s a brand on this bottle, there’s a color palette, it’s printed, it’s all on the bottle where we can read it and find the information we need, it’s all organized and planned and there’s an aesthetic to it’.”

Yet from a graphic designer’s perspective, all of these things are important artistic decisions to make.

“For a graphic artist, it’s important but for the rest of the world they just kind of take it and don’t always appreciate it,” he said. “So, I’m hoping that people who come to my show will get a new appreciation for what graphic artists do.”

But for Cole, when he first planned on attending OBU graphic art was not even in his game plan.

“I actually, when I came here four years ago, I was a history major,” Cole said. “Just cause I wanted to declare a major when I came here, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

He quickly decided to change his major to study in OBU’s College of Fine Arts’ Division of Art & Design.

“I had taken one drawing class in high school and I had heard that they had an art department here so two weeks before classes started I went and met with the faculty and had one conversation with them,” Cole said. “They asked me if I wanted to switch my major and I was like ‘sure, let’s try it, let’s just see how it goes’.”

It was only later that graphic art become his primary focus.

“I had no idea what graphic art or graphic design or any of that was,” he said. “But I just started taking the general classes, the basic art classes, fell in love with it and it’s where I am now.”

Switching to an arts major presented new challenges.

“I had to take a bunch of drawing classes – like advanced drawing classes – and I’m the worst at drawing,” Cole said. “But if you draw every single day, even if you don’t like it, you will get better at it.”

Arts classes also require students to determine how to set realistic expectations and goals for themselves.

“So when you get an art project or you get a prompt like ‘make a product for this or make a logo for this’ you’re going to have all these big ideas – things that are amazing, but you don’t have the timeline to do it,” Cole said. “So like yeah if you had three weeks to do it, it would be, you know, a great end product, but if you don’t have the time for it ‘what can I do?’ balancing your time.”

Another challenge he faced specifically preparing his senior art show was preparing all of the individual works.

“We make projects and pieces all the time for school projects, but not all of those – you know, they might not turn out so well, you might not get a great grade on them, but when it comes to your show you have to have A level, you have to have the best work you’ve ever done,” Cole said.

It was important for Cole to selectively choose the work included and make the changes necessary to make sure everything was show worthy.

“A lot of its been going back to old projects and kind of fixing them up, fixing where they went wrong and just making sure everything that’s hanging up in the show that I’m super proud of and I feel like it’s perfect, because you want it to be your best work,” he said.

The process of preparing the show started a long way back.

“There isn’t like an official start date,” he said. “I started working on it the start of my senior year just because I wanted to get things going so for when it was time for me to start actually planning and printing and setting out my show, I’d have more ready for it.”

Quite soon, now though, Cole will have the chance to relax a little.

“Once you get to the show’s opening [reception] all the pressure and stress is off,” Cole said. “Everything is done, it’s all hung up, all the pieces are done. You just get to enjoy the moment with all your friends or family and just have a good time.”

Cole hopes to find work as a commercial graphic designer after college.

“After college […] work in an industry where you can create graphics, marketing or advertising, photograph product and create content for the world to enjoy,” he said.

Other graduates of OBU’s graphic design program have successfully found work in similar fields.

According to the OBU website, “Students find a variety of contexts in which to work professionally — large and small design firms as well as in-house creative departments.”

Cole’s personal history at OBU suggests the potential for great things in his future.

“He’s a remarkable young man, a talented designer and a very hard worker,” Fuller said. “Caleb has served in leadership in Art Club and also has served for a couple of years as our lab monitor in the Mac lab, which is sort of a tutoring role, as he helps underclassmen with projects.”

Opera Scenes: ‘Laugh It Is’ to run Feb. 21-22

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

Some performances are born out of the performer’s passion for their work.  

Opera Scenes: Laugh It Is will present three opera scenes in Yarborough auditorium 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 and 22. 

While the opera scenes performance was originally for a grade, it remains because students volunteer their time to continue the tradition. 

“In the past it used to be a part of a specific course and we’ve done away with the title of that course, even though the content is still in the curriculum, the course, per se, doesn’t exist,” the Opera Scenes: Laugh It Is director and associate professor of music Dr. Louima Lilite said. 

The enthusiasm of music students such as junior vocal performance major Marlee Tate, who will play Celie in Signor Deluso, is what keeps the performance going. 

“Preparing and performing these opera scenes is truly a joy for everyone involved,” she said. “We have all become closer to one another while preparing a program that is both musically-engaging and extremely fun.” 

Lilite agrees. 

“This particular one is a labor of love,” he said. “I know that everybody can say that about their work, but we are in a unique position.”  

The students provide their own backstage support, as well as performing. 

“It doesn’t have a big production team and so the students themselves are the production team, the crew and the cast,” he said. “And so just seeing them come up with ideas for costumes and makeup and they’re not the ones directing it – I’m the one directing it – but really I rely on them for the leg work and just for all of that. And it’s beautiful to me to see that.” 

The performance also allows students to put to use some of the skills they have learned through their various vocal courses, since its material is one of the most challenging things OBU music students perform. 

“First and foremost, opera as a genre, as a vocal genre, is the most visceral sound that can come out of a human,” Lilite said. ““It just goes to the inner most core of a person.” 

Opera performance requires all aspects of the singer to work together. 

“They have to combine their mind, their emotions – so the heart and soul – and the body,” Lilite said. “It’s a very athletic way to sing. A lot of our students actually say by the time we’re done with this so we’ll be so fit, because it forces them to exercise muscles that they don’t often.” 

Opera’s storytelling component poses another difficult of opera performance.  

“Perhaps the most challenging part of preparing the opera scenes is balancing healthy singing technique with dramatic and believable acting,” Tate said. 

The music requires a range of emotion and control. 

“Opera doesn’t just give you that power it also gives you a place of tenderness,” he said. “Where in a lot of genres you would have to rely on one singer to give you the belt and another to give you the tenderness and another to give you the comedic element and so forth; opera for each singer they have to be able to do that.” 

As the title suggest, this particular selection of operas is lighthearted. 

““I would hope for [the audience] to see that first and foremost that laughter is a gift and that they get to use it and they get to share it,” Lilite said. “So first and foremost, I just want people to come and have a good time and laugh.” 

The comedic subject matter is not only designed to amuse, however. 

“For example, the first one, Signor Deluso, is an American opera,” Lilite said. “I know the title is Italian, but it’s an American opera, it’s in English. It just basically tells the story of two different families and how what may be perceived as truth is not really truth until you take a look at it and investigate and examine yourself.” 

The performance includes two shorter operas and an excerpt from a longer opera: Thomas Pasatieri’s Signor Deluso, Ned Rorem’s Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters and the Act I finale of Così fan tutte by Mozart. 

Each selection was chosen to fit the students. 

“It’s an educational endeavor and so we want to serve our students,” Lilite said. “We actually auditioned students and then figured out what would work for the voices that were available to us.”