On Sept. 19, the Tulsa Signature Symphony performed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at ONEOK Field. Though the setting was a departure from the dark music hall people are used to seeing, this show was intense, bringing out the best in all of the musicians. As the musicians tuned their instruments, it wasn’t hard to notice that there was a sigh of relief — even more than just that — it was joy to be performing their instrument publicly again in front of an appreciative crowd. Despite things not being completely normal, there was palpable hope for the best.
The event kicked off with the dean of arts from Tulsa Community College welcoming the audience to the show. As she spoke, there were waves of emotions going through not only her, but the instrumentalists as well. The music, after all, was celebrating two events: Beethoven’s 250th birthday year, and Tulsa’s upcoming “Oklahoma Sings!” competition. With that, even though each style of music was completely different from each other, both fit the mood of the event well.
The concert kicked off with concertmaster (a TU music professor) Maureen O’Boyle greeting both the crowd and musicians, and then taking her place. Shortly after that, conductor Richard Wagner (also a TU music professor) started the concert, exceeding every expectation of Beethoven’s Fifth. The way they played, it was like it was being played for the first time, or in this case — played for the first time in a LONG time.
With every stroke and downbeat, every crescendo and fermata, and every thought that went into every measure to make it better than the last: the symphony was breathtaking. The symphony- in its entirety- went beyond the first recognizable notes in the piece. It fluctuated in ideas and emotions. The movements were beautiful, ranging from flustered to joyous to stormy. Wagner, O’Boyle and the Tulsa Signature Symphony told a magnificent story. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony has been played numerous times, but this time, the way that it was performed it felt like a discovery. You couldn’t tune it out, for something new appeared within it.
After the symphony ended, the crowd ruptured into a well-deserved standing ovation. Shortly, the symphony played an uplifting piece from Hammerstein and Roger’s “Oklahoma!”. It never felt forced to balance out Beethoven’s storm. Instead it felt like a greeting to something good and marvelous that was just around the corner. The ending was robust. When the concert was officially over, there was a fireworks show. Sure, this was impressive, but no more impressive than the concert itself. There wasn’t just one part that stood out; rather the whole experience was amazing. I highly recommend coming out to support the Tulsa Signature Symphony or any concert put on by the fine arts community in Tulsa. With the hard work and thought put into each show, it’s worth it. The upcoming concerts will be both virtual and in person. The next one will be “Connecting the Dots” on Tues. Sept. 22 at 7 pm.