Holiday jingles will soon fill the air in McAlester with an acclaimed symphony providing musical cheer.

A free Christmas-themed concert is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at McAlester’s S. Arch Auditorium with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra performing holiday favorites.

McAlester Public Schools Fine Arts Director David Steidley, a graduate and longtime band director at the school, said he remembers hearing the Tulsa Symphony perform during the holidays when he was in school and he wanted to recreate the festive scene.

“Everybody seemed to really enjoy it and it was a great family atmosphere,” said Steidley, a 1983 McAlester High School graduate.

Steidley retired in 2017 after 19 years as the MPS band director — and 30 years total as a band director — and led McAlester to several top honors in the OSSAA championships and the Oklahoma Bandmasters Association contests , including 11 State Sweepstakes Awards.

He said school officials wrote a grant before McAlester Public Schools Board of Education members approved an agreement to pay Tulsa Symphony Orchestra $19,600 and they worked on scheduling for the concert.

The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra started in October 2005 with a musician-led structure to promote musician investment and engagement with community service. TSO filled the void left by the Tulsa Philharmonic Symphony — which was founded in 1948 by H. Arthur Brown, but ceased operations on Sept. 12, 2002, after financial difficulties and tenuous negotiations with the musician union.

TSO’s vision is to serve the community through “musical leadership, significant contributions to civic and cultural life, education, artistic integrity, and the quality of its performances and programs.”

Concert songs include Delvyn Case’s “Rocket Sleigh,” “Farandole” from Carmen, Johann Strauss, Jr.’s “Blue Danube Waltz,” a narration and musical accompaniment of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “The Little Drummer Boy” by K.K. Davis, “Christmas at the Movies,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” selections from "The Nutcracker" and more.

“I hope they enjoy it,” Steidley said. “It’s at 2 o’clock so they can get a lunch and then come enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere and have a good time.”

Symphony Orchestra Conductor Peter Stafford Wilson is in his 18th year as music director of Ohio’s springfield Symphony Orchestra. He’s also the music director of the Westerville Symphony and principal conductor of the Tulsa Ballet, leading three productions, including the annual holiday performances of Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker."

Wilson was the assistant and associated conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra from 1990 to 2018 and was honored with the CSO’s “George Hardesty Award for Leadership.” He has guest conducted about 20 orchestras, led multiple acclaimed performances, and has a long-time artistic relationship with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Programs for the concert include holiday-themed artwork from McAlester Public Schools students.

Puterbaugh Middle School students Aiden Carter, Miei Marquez, Damaris Hurtado, and Jeremiah Thomason provided holiday art, as did McAlester High School students Evelyn Calderon Mondragon, Aiden Pollock, Artura Villegas, and Eva Molina.

The concert is free, but the programs are available for $5 with proceeds benefiting the MPS Fine Arts Department.

A reception will follow the concert at The Mansion to honor the Bass family. Tickets are $50 with limited seating already and are available in the lobby before the concert or by contacting Steidley at 918-429-9335. Proceeds go toward the Fine Arts department.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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