The Edmond Memorial High School Orchestra Presents a World Premiere.
“Oklahoma Trails” is the name of a brand new string piece set to premiere at the Edmond Memorial Orchestra’s Spring concert. The work was commissioned by OPUS, the orchestra’s parents association, with a grant from the Edmond Arts Council.
David Koehn, the orchestra director at Edmond Memorial, had the idea back in the fall. “I wanted to give the orchestra students the chance to work on something different for their final concert this year. Premiering a piece by a local composer just seemed to fit this ensemble.”
Koehn approached his friend, Oklahoma City musician Steven Stark, with the idea. Stark jumped at the chance to write a new piece for a local group. “My first thought was - I have to write something that highlights something about Oklahoma. My wife and son and I are frequent visitors to the Oklahoma City Zoo, so the Oklahoma Trails exhibit quickly came to mind.”
The piece is meant to evoke feelings reminiscent of the landscape and wildlife of Oklahoma. Stark decided not to be too specific in his musical representation. “I did not want to associate specific animals or areas with certain parts of the piece. I wanted to suggest a topic, create a mood, and then allow listeners and players the freedom to interpret as they see fit. Within that context, I set out to write themes the players could really sink their bows in to. I also tried to give important parts to every section - to keep all the players engaged.”
Premiering a brand new piece is a unique experience for a high school orchestra, but the students have been receptive to the new piece, says Koehn. “They have expressed several times that they have enjoyed working with the composer in person, rather than only through me as the teacher. It allows them a chance to see the music with a different perspective.”
The concert is at Edmond Memorial High School on Tuesday, May 11 at 6:00PM, with the high school portion beginning at 7:00PM. In addition to the premiere, the orchestra will play a variety of classical and popular pieces, including works by Benjamin Britten and Stephen Sondheim.