May 1, 2016
A Collaboration of Music and Dance, Carmina Burana Set to Take the Stage at OU
A collaborative production by OU Schools of Music and Dance, the production features the Oklahoma Festival Ballet, OU University Chorale, Women’s Chorus, Men’s Glee Club and Carmina Burana Instrumentalists — along with the Norman Children’s Choir — to create a full-stage dramatic production.
Performances are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, April 30 and 8 p.m. Sunday, May 1 in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall of Catlett Music Center; 500 W. Boyd St. Richard Zielinski is the music director and conductor with Mary Margaret Holt and, former School of Dance faculty member, Steve Brule as choreographers of the OU production.
February 29, 2016
OU's coach Kruger gives motivational speech to OU choir bound for regional
From the Norman Transcript...
The OU Chorale got a music lesson from an unlikely source Friday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.
Coming off a recent bid to perform at the prestigious ACDA Southwest Regional Conference, the all-student choir met Lon Kruger and the OU men’s basketball team at center court for a message. Kruger didn’t delve into the finer points of vibrato or breathing. He spoke about the commonality of sport and art and the principles that drive winning philosophy.
“He gave a great motivational speech about teamwork and his message was to always take care of each other,” Director Richard Zielinski said.
Zielinski grew up as a gym rat. Now, he’s director of choral activities at OU and artistic director of the Norman Philharmonic. But in his youth he idolized NBA legend, Hall-of-Fame point guard “Pistol” Pete Maravich. That’s who he wanted to be. He went on to play football and run track at Carthage College before transferring to the University of Wisconsin as a decathlete.
“At some point, I realized I wasn’t going to play point guard for the Knicks,” he said, “so I looked at music. It has always been an important part of my life and I realized I had a gift for it. That’s when I hung up my cleats. Still played a lot of basketball, though.”*
Everything he took from sports, he translated into the world of music. He said the principles that govern a winning team make a good choir, a good business … a good anything.
“(Playing) point guard and conducting are the same thing. It wasn’t a tough transition. For me, there’s always been this comparison, because a game is like a concert and practices are like rehearsals,” Zielinski said. “I grew up that way. There wasn’t any line between the two. I knew if I worked harder at singing I was going to do better, and it was the same with sports.”
So, when he noticed a slip in the choir’s focus, he enlisted Kruger’s help. He wanted the choir to hear a different perspective and embrace the excitement of what lay before them.
“That’s how this whole thing came about and (Kruger) and I were just comparing what you go through. A choir, or any group of people who are trying to achieve a high level of excellence, is no different than trying to win a game. Sooner or later, you have to challenge each other and try to be there for each other,” Zielinski said. “It’s the same stuff. Show up early, always be on time. Put in the extra work because it will pay off. Lift each other up. My students need to hear it. We all need to hear it.”
After a brilliant start, Zielinski said his choir mirrored the No. 3-ranked Sooner basketball squad.
“I realized that my choir was kind of going through the same thing as the team,” he said. “We were going through a little slump a couple of weeks ago where rehearsals were really getting intense and we had to try something different and have a team meeting with me out of the room. And the students needed to make the decision to be committed and move it up a notch.”
Out of 112 choirs that applied via blind submission, only 12 were selected to make the March 7-10 trip to Kansas City, Missouri. The Sooner basketball team will make their own trip to Kansas City on March 10 for the Big 12 Tournament.
Both will be in elite company.
Only one OU choir has made the trip to the ACDA Southwest Regional Conference in the last 30 years. When they perform at the conference, it will be for an audience of nearly 1,000 well-trained ears. They’ll be singing in German, Polish, Latin and English at a concert billed as “the highest honor” in the region.
Zielinski believes his choir is poised to take on the challenge, and tossing aside the cliché “one-game-at-a-time” philosophy, he said it could position them for a shot at national recognition next year.
“It’s a little more high pressure, but it’s made us work hard,” he said. “The teams that work together become more than the sum of their parts. That’s where we’re at with this choir. They’re really singing well and producing some fine choral music … I know they’ll do their best. I want them to know that when they walk out on that stage, they’ve worked as hard as they can for each other.”
* Zielinski said he had a three-point shootout with OU star Buddy Hield Friday at Lloyd Noble. Hield shot 3 for 3. Zielinski finished 2 for 3. Hield did not attempt to conduct.