Cherokee County has always boasted its fair share of great entertainment venues – whether it’s an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band playing a gig at a local club, a rousing halftime show by the Tahlequah High School marching band, or a Community Playhouse dinner theater.

Recent visitors to the area from an Oklahoma City-area media group commented that this area seems to have a better selection than most when it comes to the arts. Local resident Angela Morgan would agree. In a letter to the editor in the July 20 Daily Press, Morgan praised this year’s cast and crew of NSU’s River City Players and Downtown Country. The media group was slated to see one of these performances.

One member of the group speculated that most businesses in Cherokee County seemed to have a couple of employees who “moonlight” as musicians or artists. Individual talent runs rampant, and a good public example would be Tahlequah Middle School Assistant Principal David Bookout, who is headed to the grand finale of Channel 6’s “Gimme the Mike!” next month.

If you’re a regular reader of the Daily Press, you’ll learn of other opportunities to check out the palette of local talent. These folks aren’t necessarily “famous” yet, but many of them deserve to be – and will be, if they keep up the good work, and if their fans get the word out.

One rising star in the classical music field is Jamie Bone. Jamie’s mom is Pam Moore, founding director of Help-In-Crisis, and now director of the American Indian Resource Center’s YES Project. Jamie’s father, Jim Bone, is a former local law enforcement officer, and he served as managing editor of the Daily Press in the early ‘80s. And both of them have every reason to be proud of their daughter, who is a senior at Oklahoma State University.

Many local residents will remember Jamie’s outstanding skills as a clarinetist when she was a member of the THS band. But Jamie’s just as good – maybe even better! – on the piano. She’s the type of person who can play any instrument she picks up. In fact, when necessity called, she became a pretty respectable oboe player inside of three weeks, and that’s no easy feat. If you’d like to check out Jamie’s keyboard repertoire, you can get a good sampling Sunday, July 29, at 2:30 p.m. at the NSU Jazz Lab. The concert is free, but a donation jar will collect funds for Help-In-Crisis. Along with an excellent slate of classical music, guests will be treated to dessert.

While individual talent is prevalent in this area, so is group talent. As Morgan pointed out in her letter, NSU’s summer productions are well worth the modest cost of a ticket. For information, go to http://www.nsuok.edu/si/summer.html, but better do it quickly – the season ends soon.

About the only thing Cherokee County lacks now is a symphony orchestra. We had a good one, but sadly, and for a number of reasons, the Northeastern Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra went defunct early last year.

But there’s a geographically close alternative, and we guarantee classical music fans won’t be disappointed. The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, which itself arose from the ashes of the Tulsa Philharmonic, will be embarking upon its second season this fall. The inaugural season was phenomenal, and this one promises to be just as good, starting with the Sept. 8 opening.

The concert, set for 7:30 in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s Chapman Hall, will feature four pieces, but the finale is the kicker: Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, more popularly known as “The New World Symphony.” Many local residents unschooled in classical music may think they’ve never heard this beloved masterpiece, but they might be wrong: A rendition was performed by the THS marching band in its 2005 halftime show.

Season tickets for the TSO start at $144 for adults ($96 for senior), and with six concerts slated (and maybe more), it’s well worth the price – even considering the cost of fuel to get there. Or, if you can’t attend every concert, individual tickets are also available. Call (918) 584-3645.

Operations Manager Barbie Reif says TSO is also offering pre-season and pre-concert “net casts,” accessed through their Web site, www.tulsasymphony.org. These podcasts are designed by Dr. Carol Reynolds, former asociate professor of music history at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. These fascinating lectures combine history, music theory, and behind-the-scenes insight on pieces and composers featured in the evening’s program.

That ought to be enough to keep you busy for a while, but we’ll let you know of other opportunities as they arise. Enjoy!

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