USAO Invites Public to Join Beethoven Week Feb. 18-23

USAO's Festival of Music and Ideas returns Feb. 18-23 for five nights of music, drama, guest lectures and more celebrating the life and times of composer Ludwig van Beethoven. The second in the series of five events planned through spring, 2009, the Beethoven Festival features each of the university's music ensembles, musical guests, theatrical performances and much more. Special guest conductor and world-renowned violinist Yuval Waldman returns as performer and director for the series. Each event is free and open to the public.

USAO Invites Public to Join Beethoven Week Feb. 18-23


CHICKASHA -- More than 700 campus and community members gathered last fall for the Festival of Music and Ideas when professors and performers peered into the life of Johann Sebastian Bach at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. This month, the university invites the public to participate in the second presentation of the series when they explore the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.

For five nights in February, the campus will use live music, video segments and a new drama feature to help illustrate Beethoven's music and the society in which he lived and interacted. The Beethoven festival is scheduled for Feb. 18, 19 and 21-23. Each event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in a different location on campus and is free and open to the public.

The final concert for the festival features " Ode to Joy" performed by a large community choir. Festival coordinators currently are seeking local singers of all ages for the public choir.

" The melody of 'Ode of Joy' is one of the most famous tunes in all of music history," said Dr. Stephen Weber, associate professor of music at USAO. " It has been used in television commercials and movies and is in many church hymnals."

Members of the community who are interested in singing in the community choir should contact Rhenada Finch, Beethoven festival coordinator, by phone at (405) 278-1584 for a copy of the text and music. A brief rehearsal is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 before the final concert.

Special guest conductor and world-renowned violinist Yuval Waldman will serve as guest performer and director every night of the festival. Several local ensembles will join Waldman for Beethoven performances throughout the event, including the University of Oklahoma Crouse Quartet and multiple USAO ensembles.

More than just a series of concerts, the Beethoven Festival is the second of a five-part Festival of Music and Ideas series planned through spring, 2009. Laced into the event's live musical selections are guest lectures and theatrical performances revealing a glimpse of the selected composer. Relevant and related topics in a variety of disciplines and studies are presented through a liberal arts perspective.

Event coordinators are encouraging local schools with music programs to bring students to the educational and entertaining series. More information about the event is available online at

Additional scheduled composers include Johannes Brahms in summer, 2008, Bela Bartok in fall, 2008 and Leonard Bernstein in spring, 2009. Each event is free and open to the public.

The festival kicks off Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Te Ata Memorial with excerpts from Hollywood films based on Beethoven's life. Live music is planned by the USAO Concert Choir, Concert Band, Key Players and Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Selections include " Allegro con brio" from " Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67," " The Monks of Bangor's March," " Waldstein Sonata, Opus 53," an improvisation on " Moonlight Sonata" between Waldman and Joe Settlemires, guitarist and director of the USAO ShowBand, and more.

The next evening features the first of three theatrical presentations planned for the week Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the USAO Alumni Chapel. Student actors Lonnie Iannazzo, Meagan Peters and Ryan Bell give a dramatic performance illustrating the life and impact of Beethoven. Student performances by Michelle Skinner, flute, and Elizabeth Sellers, soprano, also are highlights of the evening. Dr. Sanders Huguenin, vice president for academic affairs, will present a lecture about " the intimate Beethoven."

Continuing last semester's evening coffee treatment, Feb. 21 features free desserts in the USAO Student Center Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Russian piano virtuoso Tatiana Kuleshova joins Waldman for several violin solos, including " Scherzo, Allegro molto" from " Sonata No. 5 for Violin and Piano in F Major, 'Spring,' Opus 24." Iannazzo, Peters and Bell resume their roles as Beethoven, the Housekeeper and Schindler, respectively. Dr. Ken Bohannon, associate professor of music, show's Beethoven's silly side with " Der Kuss," a comic opera piece, and Dr. Ingrid Shafer, professor of philosophy and religion, brings ideas about " the lyrical Beethoven."

Reference librarian Melissa Rickman reprises her subject of medical and scientific advances in Beethoven's day Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Chapel. Waldman joins Kuleshova for two violin solos, including " Finale -- Allegro" from " Sonata No. 7 for Violin and Piano in C Minor, Opus 30, No. 2." The three drama students deliver their final theatrical presentation for the week, and Weber is joined by student pianist Susanna Hayworth for a piano duet. Bohannon delivers a vocal solo with " Busslied."

The Beethoven Festival is brought to a close Feb. 23 with Beethoven's most popular song, " Ode to Joy," performed by the community choir. The University of Oklahoma Crouse Quartet returns to USAO for a Beethoven string quartet; the " Adagio" from " Kreutzer Sonata" features Waldman on solo violin with Kuleshova on piano. Katie Davis, assistant professor of drama, will prelude the piece with readings from " Kreutzer Sonata" by Leo Tolstoy. The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Davis Hall Theatre.

The weeklong festivals, also known as " The Five B's," feature Yuval Waldman as both performer and director of music for the event.

Waldman said he is excited about the week's final concert. " The whole idea is to create community outreach," he said.

The Russian-born Israeli musician has performed across the globe as a soloist with major orchestras in concerts and on radio and television. In addition to acclaim for his performances of standard repertory, Waldman is well known for his thoughtful and stylish performances and recordings of Baroque music, both as a violinist and as a conductor. He has championed rarely performed 19th century masterpieces and has commissioned and premiered numerous works by contemporary American and Israeli composers.

Some of Waldman's career highlights include conducting on the Congressional steps in Washington, D.C. in a memorial concert on September 11, 2002, welcoming the millennium in a Benedictine monastery in Rome, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel in Moscow and conducting Bach's " Mass in B Minor" for Portuguese villagers in Madeira.