Tulsa Symphony Orchestra enchants Guthrie Green

It seemed all of Tulsa turned out to Guthrie Green on last Friday at 7:30 p.m. The sea of people flowed from the patio, down the steps, across the field and right up to the stage. Ron Spigelman conducted the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra which spread across the stage with downtown Tulsa in the backdrop, nothing less than beautiful.
The orchestra opened with Candide Overture, an iconic piece with a recognizable tune. The upbeat, quick rhythm from the mid-20th century hit operetta brought an air of familiarity for any symphony buffs in the audience.
Breaking away from Broadway, the orchestra took us to the military. A tribute to veterans followed shortly after where Spigelman called out a branch of the military, and each veteran of that branch stood up to be recognized.
As the military march ended, Spigelman accepted an applause and then went into a story about a composer named Waldtuefel. The composer had written 182 unsuccessful pieces before his 183rd piece became popular. The piece in A major surprisingly fit the atmosphere nicely, even with French ice skaters as the inspiration.
I had not expected what came next: music from the film “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” The music haunted, intrigued, and thrilled. The notes were laced with the curiosity and adventure core to the Star Trek universe. Spigelman then announced that the orchestra would take us further back in time in science fiction than the 2013 film, and like that, “E.T.” began playing. Spigelman had said that he cannot hear the theme without tearing up, and for good reason. Few songs can match just how touching the film score to “E.T.” is.
Next came a theme from “Captain America.” The pure heroism served to bring shiny heroes and maniacal villains to Tulsa. Everyone in the audience was 12 years old all over again. The orchestra seemed to use the nostalgia falling over the Tulsans to introduce a particular medley that won Hans Zimmer an Oscar: “The Lion King.” The film score and the lovable singalongs followed. By this time, it was already dark out, which matched well with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” I almost started dancing to “Hakuna Matata.”
Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece 1812 Overture celebrated Tulsa and its orchestra as much as it originally celebrated the defeat of Napoleon. Nearly every human being recognizes the piece for its resounding climax. Instead of the traditional cannon fire to accentuate the music, fireworks erupted behind the stage. The epic overture combined with the fireworks display showed off what the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra can do.
Musicians seemed to intend the finale to be about community. “Stars and Stripes Forever” played with the audience clapping in unison, the fireworks continuing behind. The performance finished off the night in the only way possible: a group singalong of “Oklahoma.” The scene was pure community; hundreds of Tulsans standing and singing the theme with fireworks lighting up the downtown skyline.
I asked Spigelman after the show why the orchestra puts on the symphony. “This is how we celebrate the beginning of the year for arts groups,” he said, “It’s the first Friday of September, and we like to come out here and bring everyone together to kick things off.” With the finale still playing in my head, Spigelman and his orchestra did indeed kick the year off — quite literally with flying colors.

Post Author: Brennen Gray