The Wanda L. Bass Music Center on the OCU Campus


21st Century Milestones at Bass School of Music

The Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University is an international leader in the fusion of arts, technology, and creativity. In the 21st century, the historic Bass School has doubled its square footage, to more than 200,000, become an all-Steinway School, the nation's first Conn-Selmer School, and an Apple Digital Campus. Since opening in 2006, the $38.5 million, 113,000-square-foot Bass Music Center has hosted artists and educators from around the world, including the International Society of Bassists, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Society of Composers, Inc., and the NEA-sponsored Arts Education Partnership. The school, its students, faculty and alumni continue to win accolades and set milestones, as outlined below:


  • Bass School of Music joins forces with Canterbury Choral Society to present the Oklahoma premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS at the Civic Center Music Hall. Rick Rogers in THE OKLAHOMAN declared the April 13 milestone event "one of the most satisfying musical achievements in this community's history." The sell-out audience included the composer’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, and original orchestrator Jonathan Tunick -- winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award -- who on April 16 was awarded his first-ever honorary degree, by Oklahoma City University. Bernstein was keynote speaker at the OCU-hosted El Sistema Symposium.
  • Tony- and Emmy-winning alumna Kristin Chenoweth receives honorary degree at May commencement.
  • Dr. Edward Knight becomes first music professor to be named OCU’s Outstanding Faculty of the Year.
  • Alumnus Ryan Sharp appointed principal trumpet with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.


  • World premiere of restored 1920 silent movie DAUGHTER OF DAWN, featuring a cast of 300 and Kiowa and Comanche actors and the OCU Symphony Orchestra performing film soundtrack.
  • Alumni Kelli O’Hara and Ron Raines were nominated for 2012 Tony Awards as best featured actress/actor in a musical. O’Hara was nominated for originating the role of Billie Bendix in Nice Work If You Can Get It, and Raines was honored for his portrayal of Ben Stone in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band kicks off 2012-13 Distinguished Artists series with sold-out performance in Petree Recital Hall.
  • Project 21: Music for the 21st Century, OCU’s new music group, premieres 900th OCU-created work since its founding in 1997.
  • Oklahoma City University celebrates its fifth anniversary of Music Theater Showcases for recent graduates in New York City, hosted on Broadway over the years by OCU alumni Kelli O’Hara, Stacy Logan, Destan Owens, and Ron Raines.
  • Six piano majors – Tracy Chan, Yu Ning Huang and Shalon Lin of Taiwan; Ophelia Shan and Feng Li of China; and Kevin Lie of Oklahoma City – selected to perform in four-hour master class by renowned pianist and educator Nelita True, followed the next month by a recital and master class by Van Cliburn gold medal winner Stanislav Ioudienitch.


  • For the first time in 28 years, one trumpeter wins two competitions at the International Trumpet Guild's annual convention. Ryan Beach '10 is 2011 winner of both the 2011 ITG Solo and the ITG Orchestral Excerpts competitions.
  • Jay Wadley -- alumnus composer, ex-president of Project 21: Music for the Twenty First Century, and co-founder of Found Objects Music Productions – is awarded a 2011 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • More than 350 Bass School singers and orchestral musicians join forces for Berlioz’s Requiem; performance commercially recorded as CD and DVD.
  • Bass School celebrates 60th anniversary of Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company.


  • Bass School presents inaugural six-concert Distinguished Artist Series, debuting with organist Louise Bass and concluding with pianist Vladimir Feltsman.
  • Master classes for year include artists ranging from Midori to Kristin Chenoweth.


  • OCU, Poland’s Padereweski Academy co-sponsor international composition competition.
  • OCU hosts annual convention of Society of Composers, Inc., performing 72 new works in three days; invited to host national SCI convention.
  • Washington National Opera names Sarah Coburn (MM ’01) 2009 Artist of the Year.
  • Kristin Chenoweth autobiography, A Little Bit Wicked, makes New York Times bestseller list.


  • Ann Hundley Hoover endowed chair established for dean of Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.
  • The Bass School of Music signs partnership with Poland’s I.J. Paderewski Music Academy to begin cultural exchange with faculty and performers.
  • Oklahoma Music Teachers Association relocates annual 2,000-musician state achievement auditions to Bass School of Music.
  • Texoma National Association of Teachers of Singing holds competition at Bass School of Music.
  • Project 21: Music for the 21st Century, OCU’s new music group, premieres 750th OCU-created work since its founding in 1997.


  • Oklahoma City University hosts more than 1,000 musicians at first-ever international conference: International Society of Bassists.
  • Mark Parker becomes world’s first academic dean to be named an Apple Distinguished Educator.
  • Bass School of Music hosts National Endowment for the Arts symposium, “Arts Education in 21st Century America," under auspices of Arts Education Partnership. Featured speaker on the arts and technology: Mark Parker.
  • Broadcast Music, Inc., (BMI) presents alumnus Mason Williams with Citation of Achievement as his composition, Classical Gas, named BMI’s top instrumental composition, logging more than six million broadcast performances.
  • Alumni, including Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and three-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara, join forces for Civic Center fundraiser for endowed faculty chair in honor of OCU’s legendary Professor Florence Birdwell.


  • Wanda L. Bass Music Center opens April 1, doubling facilities of music school with 106,000-square-foot, $38.5 million addition.


  • Bass School appoints first endowed chairs.
  • Bass School of Music becomes an All-Apple Campus.
  • Kelli O’Hara (BM ’97) lands first of three consecutive Tony Award nominations.
  • Faculty musicians and alumna Marquita Lister record OCU-created works on university’s first commercial CD: Where the Sunsets Bleed, released by Albany Records.


  • Music school officially adopts new name: Wanda L. Bass School of Music.
  • OCU Symphony Orchestra represents United States at “Meet at Beijing” International Arts Festival, kicking off historic 18-day tour of China.
  • Bass School of Music becomes world’s first Conn-Selmer School.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (BM '91; MM '93) nominated for second Tony Award.


  • Bass School of Music signs partnership agreement with Tianjin Conservatory of Music, China.
  • Bass School of Music celebrates 10th anniversary of partnership with HED School of Music, Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • Ron Raines (BM ’75) receives first of three Emmy Award nominations.


  • School earns All-Steinway designation with record-breaking purchase of 105 Steinway pianos.
  • Groundbreaking begins on Wanda L. Bass Music Center.
  • Percussion Ensemble makes Civic Center debut, performing with Ballet Oklahoma and Canterbury Choral Society.


  • Oklahoma City University formalizes partnership establishing shared choral artistic director with Canterbury Choral Society.
  • Bass School hosts Summit on the Future of American Music Theater, featuring industry leaders and showcase for new works.
  • Bass School celebrates golden anniversary of Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company with commission and premiere of main stage musical, Night of the Comets.
  • Graduate student Sarah Coburn (MM ’01) is National Grand Finalist in the nationally broadcast Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
  • OCU Flute Choir performs at National Flute Association Convention.


  • ASCAP and the American Symphony Orchestra League present the Oklahoma City University Symphony Orchestra with the National Adventurous Programming Award, recognizing its commitment to new music.
  • Gerald Steichen (BM ’86) conducts grand finale 7,485th performance of CATS on Broadway.
  • OCU alumni Barbara Fox DeMaio, Beverly Hoch, Kristin Chenoweth, Leona Mitchell and Lara Teeter return for season-long Golden Recital Series, celebrating 50 years of Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company.