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Dr. Thomas Dickey

Symphony orchestra director wins national award

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Media Contact: Jacob Longan | Coordinator of Communications and Marketing, College of Arts and Sciences | 405-744-7497 | jacob.longan@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University’s director of Orchestral Studies has claimed one of the top awards in his field for the second time.

Dr. Thomas Dickey has received his second Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming since coming to OSU.

The award, presented by the American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, is a national recognition of Dickey’s achievements in the field of orchestral planning. It’s presented to directors whose selection of repertoire “builds orchestras and audiences, educates young people and adults, and enriches the community,” according to the American Prize’s official announcement.

This is Dickey’s second time receiving the award in the college/university division since coming to OSU five years ago, and he said he is honored to have been chosen again.

“Winning this award for the second time, first in 2018 and again in 2021, means the world to me,” Dickey said. “Programming orchestral repertoire in such a way that builds the orchestra and our audiences, educates those in attendance, and enriches the OSU and Stillwater communities is a challenging yet incredibly rewarding task.”

He calls it a challenging task, but Dickey has clearly done it well. He said the trick is to find a good balance of music from the pieces and composers that students need to know and from lesser-known composers that students and audience members may not have heard before. This gives people an opportunity to experience a variety of new music, and it’s part of what encourages people to keep coming to listen to the orchestra.

Dickey’s repertoire selection also serves another purpose. When selecting lesser-known works, he likes to pull music from a variety of places, particularly from historically underrepresented composers. In this way, Dickey said he uses the orchestra to promote diversity and lift up underrepresented composers.

“Diversity is one of the core values of this great institution,” Dickey said. “For me, music is one of the best ways we can show that we truly respect and value the diversity of everyone, their beliefs, and their opinions. The OSU Symphony Orchestra frequently performs music by historically underrepresented composers.

“For example, in 2019, in honor of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, we performed the music of Emma Lou Diemer, Lita Grier and Alice Mary Smith. We celebrated the 55th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act by performing music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Clarence Cameron White and Florence Price.”

Dickey said winning the Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award again is validating because it recognizes that the orchestra promoting diversity has value. Additionally, he said it adds to the prestige and national level of excellence that the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music is trying to build.

For more information about the OSU Symphonic Orchestra and future performances, visit mcknightcenter.org.

Story By: Ellie Melero | emelero@okstate.edu

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