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The New York Philharmonic performed to soldout audiences the last time it was at The McKnight Center in 2019.

McKnight Center, New York Philharmonic announce partnership, residency

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 | editor@okstate.edu

After christening the performance hall of The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts in October 2019, the New York Philharmonic has established a new three-year residency partnership that will see the renowned orchestra return to Stillwater on a regular basis.

The partnership, which provides valuable educational opportunities for the Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music and Stillwater Public Schools students, will include an annual gala event, public performances, a youth education concert and a multitude of masterclasses where students can interact with some of the world’s most talented performers.

As part of the program, select OSU music students will travel to New York City each year for immersive learning opportunities with the New York Philharmonic.

With a commitment from OSU to transform its arts facilities, The McKnight Center was established in 2016. Philanthropists Ross and Billie McKnight provided leading support through a $25 million gift, establishing a visionary and unique programming endowment. The center’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic eflects an aligned commitment between two organizations dedicated to sharing world-class education and art.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership with a distinguished institution like the New York Philharmonic through this three-year residency,” said Ross McKnight, who serves as a board member at the New York Philharmonic and as board chair at The McKnight Center. “We envision the center as a transformational space for our university, community and region to experience world-class art. Over the next three years, the residency will help to establish a cultural legacy in Stillwater that will draw audiences and develop the next generation of musicians.”

The New York Philharmonic returns to The McKnight Center on Sept. 23, 24 and 25 with music director Jaap van Zweden conducting. The weekend of performances will feature acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham and pianist Conrad Tao. The orchestra also will return during the center’s 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 seasons.

“The musicians of the Philharmonic and I are very much looking forward to returning to Oklahoma State University’s McKnight Center for the Performing Arts. When we inaugurated the beautiful new concert hall in 2019, we were touched by the warm welcome we received and by the enthusiasm of the audience. It will be a joy to return,” van Zweden said.

A special highlight of the gala concert on Sept. 23 is the opportunity for more than 100 OSU vocal students to share the stage with the orchestra, providing an incredible and unique learning experience. The students will perform the choral section of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “Ode to Joy.”

“We strive to create a professional environment that stimulates the highest standards in music education and have enjoyed a strong relationship with The McKnight Center,” said Dr. Jeff Loeffert, former professor and director of the Greenwood School of Music. “A partnership of this magnitude with the New York Philharmonic sets the standard in music programs and provides OSU students with opportunities not available anywhere else.”

The New York Philharmonic and The McKnight Center have a history of meaningful partnership. In 2019, the New York Philharmonic kicked off The McKnight Center’s inaugural season with a four-day residency that included 16 masterclasses, four performances, a gala event and engaging performances for elementary school students. In 2018, prior to the center opening, the orchestra’s principal musicians led mini-residencies that included masterclasses and guest performances with student music ensembles.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership with the New York Philharmonic, which includes some of the world’s most accomplished musicians,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “Their expertise will further advance the learning opportunities and academic excellence at Oklahoma State University. I am grateful for the vision and support of Ross and Billie McKnight and to the New York Philharmonic for bringing their talents, artistry and the beauty of their music to our student musicians and our community.”

Mark Blakeman, The McKnight Center’s Marilynn and Carl Thoma executive director, said the New York Philharmonic’s three-year residency illustrates OSU’s commitment to present top-tier artists in a format that goes deeper than performances alone.

“Our partnership with the New York Philharmonic strengthens the center’s growing reputation as a venue that attracts top talent,” he said. “Through the residency’s main components — performance, education and outreach — we are poised to foster a powerful artistic environment for our community.”

The performing arts center’s fourth season kicks off in September with country artist Sara Evans and concludes in April 2023 with a solo concert by award-winning star of Broadway’s Hamilton, Renée Elise Goldsberry.

Other noteworthy performances include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Legally Blonde – The Musical, the legendary Count Basie Orchestra and blues guitar legend Buddy Guy.

“It’s thrilling each year to curate a season of legendary artists to inspire all audiences, from the most experienced arts aficionado to those who are visiting the theater for the first time,” Blakeman said. “This season is made all the more special as we see our expanded partnership with the New York Philharmonic elevate the audience experience beyond what we witness on stage, immersing our community in world-class arts.”


Photos by: Chris Lee

Story by: Jessica Novak | STATE Magazine

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