The Oklahoma City Philharmonic is the flagship arts organization in OKC and the largest orchestra in the state.
Can you tell us how and why you started your business?
Our roots trace back to the city’s first professional orchestra in 1924. Our mission is to provide joy and inspiration through orchestral music, and we are proud to be a part of the community.
What services do you provide within the film/music industry?
Over the last three decades, the Philharmonic has demonstrated its strengths through high-caliber performances, comprehensive Education and Community Engagement programs, and a number of free concerts each year.
How has your company grown to meet the needs of Oklahoma’s film and/or music industries over the last 3-5 years?
Partnerships are an important component of each season, as the OKCPHIL supports other organizations across the community in a variety of ways. From our ongoing collaborations with the OKC Ballet and Canterbury Voices, to featuring smaller local groups and individual artists, to our ongoing partnerships with area schools and youth ensembles, the OKCPHIL’s leadership contributes to a vibrant arts community.
What are the benefits of basing your company’s operations in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma City is our home. Many of our musicians live in OKC and the surrounding communities and we are thrilled with our city’s progress and growth in recent years. In addition to our concerts, community outreach is an important part of what we do and who we are. We are focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, building a more inclusive audience. And our “Spotlight School” initiative gets us out into the local school system, introducing students to our organization. Our Music Director regularly engages music students in the classroom, and those who are selected to be our “Spotlight School” receive complimentary tickets to a concert.
What would you consider your business’s greatest accomplishment to date?
The OKCPHIL is proud to be among the 23 percent of U.S. orchestras able to operate under the pandemic and present live performances to an in-person audience. The organization, led by a devoted Board, has demonstrated a strong commitment to its employees, including musicians and staff, as well as our community.
Are there any recent successes your company would like to highlight related to work within the Oklahoma film and music industries?
We were able to keep our doors open and people employed, through our fiscally responsible approach to budgeting, as well as our innovative, adaptive and creative vision that allowed us to serve our mission. An OKCPHIL Fourth of July event, “Red White & BOOM!” at OKC’s Scissortail Park drew an estimated 25,000 spectators to Scissortail Park. And a free lunchtime concert last spring at Civic Center Music Hall was attended by downtown OKC residents and workers, as well as attendees from across the metro.
What are you working on now/next?
We are partnering with local organizations like Prairie Surf Media and the Oklahoma City Thunder, increasing our visibility and accessibility to every demographic, making sure all audiences are aware of our organization and welcome at our performances. OKCPHIL will perform a halftime show at the OKC Thunder game on New Year’s Eve. We are also collaborating with Prairie Surf Media and KOCO-TV to produce a video commemorating civil rights icon Clara Luper that will coincide with Black History Month in February, and our upcoming musical tribute to Luper next spring on the centennial of her birth. For that performance on May 13, 2023, we have commissioned Hannibal Lokumbe’s “Trials, Tears, Transcendence: The Journey of Clara Luper.” And Naxos, the world’s leading classical music record label, is releasing a CD of music recorded and commissioned by the OKCPHIL. We commissioned Jonathan Leshnoff’s “Of Thee I Sing,” a 23-minute work for chorus and orchestra commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. It is set for release next spring.
What is your goal/vision for the future of your company?
We join other arts organizations in our recovery efforts coming out of the pandemic, and are so grateful to our patrons, our Board and our community for their continued support.
What advice do you have for others who are considering starting a film or music business in Oklahoma?
Having a clear, concise mission is key. For OKCPHIL, it’s providing music that will make a positive impact on our audience – “providing joy and inspiration through orchestral music.” Our Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate has a belief that “Music goes straight to the heart and unites us all.” We strive for that every day.
What opportunities do you believe await Oklahoma’s film/music industry in the future?
Our state and city are on track to deliver high-caliber entertainment, in our case it is orchestral music. Support from the Inasmuch Foundation allows us to bring superstar entertainers like violinist Joshua Bell to our Classics Series. And generous support from The Chickasaw Nation provides us with the ability to bring performers like Tony Award winner and Oklahoma native Kelli O’Hara to our Pops Series.
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.