By Patrick B. McGuigan
A wildly successful post-tornado effort has resulted in donation of more than 100 band instruments to benefit the Moore public school band program.
The Oklahoma City Jazz Orchestra brought together businesses, music fans and school patrons to replace instruments destroyed when the May 20 tornado devastated Highland East Junior High School. Members of the city orchestra organized the benefit while in the midst of preparation for the upcoming season of performances.
Last week, officials with the OKC Jazz Orchestra presented a wide variety of musical instruments to Moore school officials, shortly after a 30-minute performance by five members of the ensemble. The concert and subsequent school board meeting was held at Central Junior High Auditorium.
Five members of the OKC Jazz Orchestra performed for the Moore event, including Brian Gorrell (Tenor Sax), Jay Wilkinsen (Trumpet), Jason Cademy (Guitar), Justin Walke (Drums) and Larry Moore (Bass).
Beyond the broad impact throughout the Moore system, the program will be of special benefit to three students who lost their personal instruments when the storm shattered their school site. One of those students (a girl named Mikala) received a new clarinet from orchestra board chairman Tony Johnson at last week’s event.
Support for the jazz orchestra’s effort came from many individuals, 40 of whom presented “gently used” instruments. At BancFirst’s Moore locations, supporters brought instruments for direct support of the drive to restore needed instrument for the band program.
Around 60 of the 100+ instruments were new, due to a successful drive to raise money for purchases.
Supporters of the new-instrument drive included Cash America International, Inc. Cash America is described as a specialty financial services company, which includes 17 stores across Oklahoma under the “Cash America Pawn” brand. Officials with the company say their “corporate citizenship” efforts focus on education, financial literacy, public safety, families in need, disaster relief and the military.
Brad Shipp, from Cash America’s Texas office, said he firm was delighted to assist the Moore program. Music teacher Angie Taylor of the Highland East staff expressed appreciation for the jazz orchestra’s support of young musicians.
In other arts news, the OKC Jazz Orchestra has set its 2013-14 season.
The cycle will open Sept. 23, with “Celebration!” The Nov. 25 concert highlights “Jazz for the Holidays,” while “Jazz with a local fair” is the Feb. 17 theme. The regular concert season will close April 7, with “Porgy & Bess and Bennie Carter.”
The jazz orchestra performs at the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club, 100 North Broadway (Chase Tower), on the 34th floor. Tickets, sold at the door, are $20 Adults and $5 Students. All performances begin at 7 p.m.
OKC Jazz orchestra leaders say the group is dedicated to preserving the uniquely American musical art form. In addition to Johnson, Dr. Bob Spinks, also an orchestra board member, participated at the Moore presentation.
More information about the jazz orchestra, including special concerns and a youth ensemble program, is available at: www.our-infoweb.com/cmsv3