TUESDAY, MAY 04
Two lifelong friends are collaborating on an original piece for string orchestra, inspired by the Oklahoma City Zoo.
Oklahoma City University alumni Steven Stark ’99 and David Koehn ‘ 00 are working with student musicians of the Edmond Memorial High School Orchestra on the world premiere of “Oklahoma Trails.”
The piece is meant to evoke feelings reminiscent of the landscape and wildlife of Oklahoma, according to Stark, a composer and performer.
“I wanted to suggest a topic, create a mood, and then allow listeners and players the freedom to interpret as they see fit," said Stark, who was inspired after visiting the zoo's Oklahoma Trails exhibit. "Within that context, I set out to write themes the players could really sink their bows in to. I also tried to give important parts to every section - to keep all the players engaged.”
"Oklahoma Trails" was commissioned by OPUS, the Edmond Memorial Orchestra’s parents' association, with a grant from the Edmond Arts Council.
“I wanted to give the orchestra students the chance to work on something different for their final concert this year,” said Koehn, director of Edmond Memorial’s orchestra program. “Premiering a piece by a local composer just seemed to fit this ensemble.”
The world premiere will be presented at Edmond Memorial High School on Tuesday, May 11. The high school portion of the concert begins at 7 p.m. In addition to the Stark piece, the orchestra will play classical and popular music, including works by Benjamin Britten and Stephen Sondheim.
Being part of the rehearsal and premiere of a new work is a rare experience for a high school orchestra, Koehn said. The student musicians have been enthusiastic.
“They have expressed several times that they have enjoyed working with the composer in person, rather than only through me as the teacher,” Koehn said. “It allows them a chance to see the music with a different perspective.”
Koehn and Stark, both graduates of Enid High School, have performed together since seventh grade. As a 17-year-old, Stark composed a piece that premiered with the Enid Symphony Orchestra.
Both went on to Oklahoma City University, where Stark studied music composition and Koehn specialized in music education.
Stark’s eclectic career includes the Oklahoma Gazette’s 2005 Woody Award for Best Singer/Songwriter. Scott Appel, a columnist for Acoustic Guitar Magazine, called Stark original work "gorgeous, imaginative, inventive music.”
Stark appeared in the 2008 film “Rainbow Around the Sun, which debuted at the South by Southwest film festival; wrote music for the short film "Daniel," which has screened at a variety of film festivals, and is composing music for the documentary "Where Did the Horny Toad Go?"
He is a member of the award-wining Oklahoma-based band The Fellowship Students, and has toured with The Starlight Mints and the Austin-based band The Lovely Sparrows. He has performed on albums by The Starlight Mints, The Lovely Sparrows, Ryan Lindsey, former Blue Clues host Steve Burns, Student Film, and others.
Stark has released five solo CDs: A is for Airplanes, B is for Baseball, C is for Cats (2008); The Twin or the Seed: a short album for acoustic guitar, cello and voice (2007); Light Plays on a Pearl: a short album for acoustic guitar, cello and voice (2006); Fyodor Fox and the Flying Fiddle (2003); and I Wonder What the Radio Plays (2001)
For more information, visit www.stevenstarkmusic.com