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New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill works with OSU student Madison Hughes in a master class.

Growing in Harmony

Monday, December 2, 2019

McKnight Center and Greenwood School of Music strike a chord of excitement together

With the opening of The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, and a new home for the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music, music performance and education at Oklahoma State University will reach a level few universities can match. The performance hall and programming endowment will bring in some of the world’s most renowned artists to teach master classes and enable students to rehearse on the same stage as world-class orchestras.

The McKnight Center will supplement the existing Seretean Center for the Performing Arts as a more exclusive and modern facility and spearhead the revival of the performing arts at OSU. In particular, the Greenwood School of Music will have access to incredible resources for students and faculty.

“At present, the Greenwood School of Music has really outstanding faculty and we have really outstanding students, but we’ve felt a degree of constraint based on the size of facilities,” said Jeffrey Loeffert, director of the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music. “With the opening of The McKnight Center and the impending opening of the new Greenwood building, that really changes everything for us.”

The new building for the Greenwood School is expected to open in the spring of 2021. It will house music laboratories, classrooms and teaching studios equipped with the latest technology for high-level studio production. Collaboration between The McKnight Center and the Greenwood School of Music will be fluid, and the two will be connected through a shared corridor.

“Our working with The McKnight Center is really a critical piece to the expansion, both qualitatively and quantitatively for our program,” Loeffert said. “We expect to grow in terms of numbers, and we also expect to grow in terms of quality.”

The building is designed to encourage collaboration, with unique suites created for specific areas of study and rehearsal spaces built to accommodate a variety of instruments and ensembles.

“[The new building] shows our university’s investment in the arts here at Oklahoma State University,” Loeffert said. “I view it as our opportunity to ascend to become a top-tier program.”

It will also open opportunities for unique majors such as music industry, a major that focuses on technical aspects such as running and maintaining performing arts centers.

“The program is so young, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities around Stillwater for those students to go out and see what they want to do,” said Ali Lewis, a music industry student. “So this will definitely bring a lot of internships for them and different opportunities within performing arts centers.”

The McKnight Center opening, paired with the advent of the Greenwood School of Music building, shows there are many reasons to be excited for music programs on campus.

“The new Greenwood School of Music building significantly elevates the stature of our program,” Loeffert said. “It will positively impact every facet of teaching, learning and performing. Our students and faculty are exceptional, and with the addition of a world-class facility, we are now poised to be competitive with the very best music programs in the nation.”

Master classes included with nearly every McKnight Center performance will also improve that competitive edge. These once-in-a-lifetime learning experiences began in 2018 with the musicians from The McKnight Center’s Chamber Music Festival and will continue to be offered to students and the public for free.

The McKnight Center offered 16 master classes during the New York Philharmonic’s residency. Students had to audition to participate in Kelli O’Hara’s session because demand was so high.

“I think the master classes will have a big impact on the music students in many ways,” said Carly Nash, a music industry student. “It’s amazing that so many music students will get to work with such esteemed artists on improving their instrumental skills and maybe even remind them of their passion for why they became an instrumentalist in the first place.”

While everyone is excited about the glistening new performance hall, for some, one of the most exciting aspects of The McKnight Center is the revival of music and arts it promises to bring.

Calvin Householder, who grew up in a suburb of Austin, Texas, said he chose to attend OSU because of the momentum surrounding music education through The McKnight Center and the Greenwood School of Music.

“My graduating class in high school had 720 students. I was one of 720 to go to Oklahoma State. My friends back home thought I was crazy to go here, but I told them about all the great things happening here,” he said.

Householder, who plays the trombone, attended two master classes with the Philharmonic, worked as an usher for the Opening Gala and attended the Saturday night concert.

He’s excited to see how music continues to flourish at OSU.

“I know I’ll only have a taste of what is to come by the time I graduate, but I’m so thankful to be here during the start of this thing,” he said. “I think arts in general will be much more prominent on campus. It already has been from when I got here a year ago.”

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