"Oklahoma... Where the West Remains"
A Centennial Journey in Music and Story

In September of 2004 I met with Douglas Newell, Music Director of the Enid Symphony Orchestra, to discuss a possible project for the Oklahoma State Centennial. The idea was to create and commission an original symphony project that would tell the rich history of Oklahoma and her people through songs, stories and historical facts. The concept was to present this production and feature nationally known singer/songwriter R. W. Hampton in conjunction with the Enid Symphony Orchestra.

Armed with encouragement from Doug, I began to write a narrative to try and touch on the perspectives of the Native Americans, Cowboys, Settlers, African Americans, Immigrants and also the landscapes that make up the rich history of our State. I enlisted Dr. Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma History Center to proof my script for factual accuracy and content. During the last three years, R. W. and Multiple Wrangler Award winner Rich O’Brien have worked with me to make song selections of both original music and some old standards to further tell the story that we wanted to convey. Because this project involves a full Orchestra, Douglas Newell then recommended that we contact Professor/Musician/Composer Jerry Neil Smith to prepare symphonic charts for the selected songs. Jerry Neil collaborated with Brian Tidwell to divide and conquer the orchestral scores that were commissioned.

In January 2006 the project was approved as an official Oklahoma Centennial Commission event. The Premiere was held in Enid in September 2006 with two sold out performances at Enid Symphony Hall with the 40 piece Enid Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Douglas Newell and featuring R. W. Hampton. Rich O’Brien and the Chisholm Trail String Band completed the makeup of the musical guests. The audience response was even greater than we could have expected and now we are looking forward to additional performances throughout Oklahoma and across the country at various venues.

Rich and R. W. released the musical CD of “Oklahoma….Where the West Remains” in September 2007.

And the Wrangler goes to.........Greater words were never spoken to the recipient of the prestigious Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City.  On April 11th & 12th "Oklahoma...Where the West Remains" will receive the Wrangler award for best Traditional Western album at the annual Western Heritage Awards.  The Academy Awards of all things Western, this is a great honor and we are thrilled beyond words.

Edna Mae Holden

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