OSU celebrates groundbreaking of Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music
By Jacob Longan
The couple believed “our wonderful students and remarkable faculty” should benefit from a new facility sooner rather than later.
"It was an easy decision for us. The more we learned about our lack of facilities, the more we realized the time for action was now," Anne Greenwood said.
The Greenwoods made the lead gift for a College of Arts and Sciences building to house what is now the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music. OSU held a celebratory groundbreaking for the facility Sept. 15, shortly before the Cowboy football team beat Boise State, 44-21.
Both Greenwoods spoke at the ceremony, held at the construction site at the corner of University Avenue and Ramsey Street. They beamed as OSU leaders, music faculty and a student explained what this building will do for the university. It will house a variety of music laboratories, classrooms, rehearsal spaces and teaching studios equipped with the latest technology for high-level studio production, offering a premier teaching and learning experience for the more than 2,100 students who participate in various OSU music programs.
“The ability to provide this building and the facilities that are so deserved makes us proud,” Anne Greenwood said. “Every time we make a gift, we want to raise awareness about certain needs and inspire others to join us. Others did step up immediately and supported this. We couldn’t have done this without them, and we will be forever grateful.”
OSU President Burns Hargis recognized the Edward and Helen Bartlett Foundation, Jonathan Drummond, Dick and Malinda Berry Fischer, the Inasmuch Foundation, John and Caroline Linehan and other donors who made early commitments to the Greenwood School of Music.
But the Greenwoods were the headline honorees on a day that launched “a new era for music” at OSU. Hargis recognized the couple’s ongoing support for the university, including major gifts for the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center, the Anne Morris Greenwood Reading Room in the Edmon Low Library and the new Spears School of Business building.
“Their passion and generosity have touched this campus in many, many ways,” Hargis added. “It’s all over the place. They are a phenomenal couple, and I hope they know how much we appreciate them.”
Dr. Howard Potter, chair of the Greenwood School of Music, said that faculty, students and alumni had been dreaming of this new facility for “at least a generation.”
“The combination of President Hargis’ vision for what could be and the generosity of the Greenwoods and many others has made our dream into a reality, and we can never thank them enough,” Potter said. “Their vision and their gifts are a reaffirmation of the great work being done in the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music every day. Our expert faculty are dedicated, tireless, brilliant and engaging.”
Dr. Ryan Gardner, associate professor of trumpet, noted that about 2,100 students share 12 practice rooms, two rehearsal spaces and two classrooms in the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts.
“Our students never complain, but they come up with creative solutions such as practicing outside, in hallways, in stairwells, and sometimes even in the bathrooms,” Gardner said. “Our students’ passion and determination to be great has never been compromised by the restrictions of our current facility. It only makes their achievements more significant. OSU music has been excellent for many years.”
Gardner would know, having overseen the trumpet studio and trumpet ensembles since 2011. His students have dominated the National Trumpet Competition, winning seven championships and placing nine times across four categories since 2014.
One of those champions, trumpet performance senior Noah Mennenga, said the new facilities are bringing even more excitement into the music program. It has even touched him, though he will graduate before The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts opens in fall 2019 and the Greenwood School of Music opens the following year.
“In the future, I will have my own students and I will be able to recommend OSU as a great place to study because I have full confidence in the program,” Mennenga said. “Now it’s adding great facilities they can use.”
Dr. Doug Henderson, associate director of bands and director of the Cowboy Marching Band, explained that even changing the name from the Department of Music to the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music is beneficial, especially for recruiting.
“It carries an elevation, an intangible thing for the faculty and the students,” Henderson said. “Having this name attached to the degrees of our graduates will be very special to them.”
The university has raised more than two-thirds of its fundraising goal, and naming opportunities are still available for interested donors.
“We’ve seen people from all across campus, across Stillwater and across the state, and some even beyond that, gather with us to bring momentum behind this elevation of the arts at Oklahoma State University,” said Kirk Jewell, president of the OSU Foundation. “We believe we are going to be a true destination for both faculty and students whose passion is the arts.”
Finding awards in the fun
Mennenga came to OSU from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, because he wanted to be part of the university’s trumpet studio. While in high school, he participated in the National Trumpet Competition three times, where he saw OSU’s entrants having fun together while achieving at the highest level.
His decision paid off, and he has won a slew of awards during his time as a Cowboy, including the undergraduate soloist division at both the 2018 National Trumpet Competition and the 2018 International Trumpet Guild Conference Solo Competition. He was also third as a soloist at the 2017 National Trumpet Competition, when OSU’s Natalie Upton won, and he was a member of the winning large ensemble in 2016.
This spring, he will perform with Christopher Martin, principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic. Martin will share the stage with the OSU Wind Ensemble on April 18.
“He was the principal trumpet for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 11 years, and now he has been with the New York Philharmonic for a couple of years,” Mennenga said. “To be either one of those is incredible. To do both shows you how great he is, and for him to come to OSU is really cool.”
Mennenga said he wishes he could stay at OSU until next fall, when The McKnight Center opens with a performance by the full New York Philharmonic, as well as when the Greenwood School of Music opens.
“I am disappointed that I won’t be around to enjoy these facilities as a student, but I know that they will play a big part in further strengthening the reputation of the program,” Mennenga said. “People from all over will be aware of the Greenwood School of Music and Oklahoma State University. To have been here and played a part in creating the momentum before these facilities open makes the time I’ve put in here even more worth it.”
He is currently applying to trumpet graduate programs across the country. He has also applied for a Fulbright Scholarship that would allow him to go to Switzerland and study with two of the best in the world. What comes after that is unclear, but he plans to continue playing.
“My dream job would be to make and play music that is beautiful, that people enjoy, that tells stories and communicates ideas and emotions,” Mennenga said. “That could be solo music or chamber music or orchestral music. I want to bring joy to people and connect with people, and do good work outside of that, teaching and mentoring young musicians.”For more information about Oklahoma State’s music programs, visit music.okstate.edu. To learn more about The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, visit McKnightCenter.org.