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OCU, Youth Orchestra Partner on New Conductor

by Rod Jones

Oklahoma City University has partnered with the state’s largest youth orchestral program to appoint Eric Garcia to the new position of associate professor and music director of the OCU Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras.

Garcia, associate conductor of the summer Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C., has served as assistant conductor of the Seattle Symphony and cover conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He was chosen from a field of more than 100 applicants.

“We are very excited to welcome Eric Garcia as director of orchestra at the Bass School of Music,” said Mark Parker, dean of OCU’s music school. “His experience working with professional orchestras will serve our students well as he prepares them for professional music careers. In partnering with the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras to create this position, we are strengthening our 20-year relationship with an outstanding program.”

Garcia has worked from the podium with artists ranging from Marvin Hamlisch and Herbie Hancock to the Chieftains and the Assad Brothers. A champion of new music and music education, he is a frequent guest conductor and clinician with high school orchestras.

He was the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras’ interim director for 2014-15, stepping in upon the retirement of longtime conductor Dr. John Clinton.

“We are ecstatic about the possibilities of bringing more music to more students in Oklahoma,” said Jerry Messick, chairman of the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras board of directors. “Eric's knowledge and passion is just incredible. I'm continually amazed at how young musicians respond to his direction. It’s a testament to his love of teaching and the organization will continue to benefit from that for many years to come.”

Garcia’s plans for the flagship orchestral ensembles at OCU and the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras call for expanding community partnerships and presenting “symphonic concerts built on core repertoire — repertoire that will be a cornerstone to students’ musical education — and continuing to build on an already formidable repertoire of contemporary music.”

He is the former director of orchestral studies and associate professor of conducting at Oklahoma State University; director of orchestral activities at the University of Evansville; music director of the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra; and director of orchestras at St. Xavier University.

Garcia was awarded the Bruno Walter Foundation Scholarship to attend the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, where he studied under Marin Alsop, as well as fellowships to the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School. He recently served on faculty at the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Cortona, Italy.

He has worked directly with composers John Adams, Sergio Assad, George Crumb, Frank Ferko, David Lang, Lowell Lieberman and Jay Alan Yim.

Renowned conductor Gerard Schwarz describes Garcia as “a fine musician with a broad knowledge base, excellent ear and wonderful technique.”

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