“The tour to the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria by Oklahoma Festival Ballet was a most inspiring experience for our dancers, observers and staff,” says Mary Margaret Holt, Nichols’ Chair, Regents’ Professor and Director of the OU School of Dance. “It was remarkable to experience the culture of this lovely city surrounded by the memory and accomplishments of Joseph Haydn and to collaborate with such distinguished musical artists in the performance of The Creation.”
The University of Oklahoma was well represented at the 37th Annual Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria with 87 faculty, staff, students and alumni who attended from the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. The Festival Orchestra and Chorus are made up of 203 international performers from all over the world, including Kenya, Indonesia, Germany Russia, Poland, Austria, Hungary and USA. The 2012 Chorus and Orchestra included 32 singers, 14 dancers, 12 alumni, eight pianists and seven orchestra members from the college.
School of Dance’s Oklahoma Festival Ballet performed along with the Festival Chorus and Orchestra for the sold-out Austrian premiere of Joseph Hayden’s The Creation (Die Schöpfung) at the Esterházy Place with original choreography by Holt and faculty member Steve Brule.
“To serve as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria is an honor. However, to see our students and faculty experience together these great works of art, like Haydn’s The Creation, in the setting where the composer wrote the composition is truly a life changing experience for all, for especially our students. Each day throughout the festival you walk the hallways in the palace tracking the footsteps of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, on your way to rehearse and perform works composed by these masters,” says Richard Zielinski, Director of Choral Activities at OU and Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Classical Music Festival.
Melanie Jensen, Ballet Performance Sophomore, who performed the principal role of Gabriel in The Creation, said it was a privilege to be a part of the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria and an experience she will always remember. She goes on to say, “performing alongside such accomplished musicians and singers with the beautiful architecture and murals of the Esterházy Palace provided so many new senses to dance to. The direction of Mary Margaret Holt, Steve Brule, and Rick Zielinski along with the dedication of every artist involved fueled an inspiring and moving journey. As we learned about the history and culture of Eisenstadt throughout the week, we stepped up our rehearsals to match the stirring work Joseph Haydn composed in The Creation. I was in awe of the generosity that the people of Eisenstadt displayed and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a powerful collaboration.”
“Holding the performance in Esterházy Palace in the very hall where Haydn conducted his orchestra created an experience we will never forget and our dancers rose to the occasion expressing the beauty and depth of this remarkable oratorio. We are deeply grateful for our collaboration with Rick Zielinski and all associated with the festival as well as those in Oklahoma who made our participation possible,” says Holt.
Support for travel and accommodations are made possible by The Cultural Department of The Province of Burgenland, The City of Eisenstadt, Austria and The Haydn Festpiele in cooperation with the University of Oklahoma.