Most Oklahomans have a story about the events that took place on April 19, 1995. Almost from the beginning, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic played a part in helping heal a grieving city and nation, performing for the first memorial service the Sunday immediately after the bombing.
Now the OKCPHIL will release a new album commemorating the event.
“Of Thee I Sing” began as a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Composer Jonathan Leshnoff was commissioned to write the music, which was partially recorded before being sidelined by the Covid pandemic. Last year, the final pieces were recorded, and the album is set for an April release on the Naxos record label.
“Jonathan’s music has an energetic, driving beginning,” said Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate. “At some point it stops, the choir comes in and the music starts to transcend the horrors to give a sense of healing.”
Another piece on the record is Leshnoff’s violin concerto with the concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, Noah Bendix-Balgley as soloist. The third work is called “Elegy,” music that was composed for last year’s Yom HaShoah event.
“I believe music inspires, heals, transcends, excites, consoles,” Mickelthwate said. “But it also creates a sense of identity and pride. With the release of this recording, the Philharmonic is starting a new tradition of creating new works based on Oklahoma stories. Stories that are local but have a national or even international quality. We will become storytellers through music. Through our orchestra, music, sounds and rhythms go straight to the heart. And by recording we make it timeless.”
Mickelthwate has embraced Oklahoma City, and says the Memorial creates in him an openness that allows him to become receptive for inner quiet and peace.
“The Memorial not only transcends the horrors of that day but gives space to see all sorts of things from a wider and deeper perspective,” he said. “A garden of meditation. How appropriate and needed for our times.”
A series of public service announcements produced by Prairie Surf Media will begin airing in April, and feature Governor and Mrs. Frank Keating, Kari Watkins, President and CEO of the OKCNMM, and OKCPHIL Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate.
“Of Thee I Sing” is set for release April 21, and will be available worldwide on all major streaming platforms, download services, major physical CD retailers, and in CD stores and record shops across the country.