One generation of Oklahoma City Philharmonic prepares to pass the baton to the next

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- All orchestras tune to one note just as all eyes must eventually rest on the conductor at the podium.

For nearly 30 years, for the entire history of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, that conductor has been Maestro Joel Levine.

He not only led the orchestra but directed the whole organization from very small beginnings in 1988 when he and his newly hired office manager went shopping for the barest of essentials.

"She went and bought a coffee pot and I went and bought a pencil," he recalls. "And pens, and we picked the phone number. It doesn't get any more basic than that."

Levine had been associate conductor of the Oklahoma City Symphony before that organization folded.

But Levine correctly saw a continued hunger for music here, too much hunger for a simple Rossini 'Thieving Magpie' to steal away.

Joel insists, "People in this city support the orchestra. They love symphonic music."

Levine says the model for modern conductors is to stay in their seats for a decade.

He is the outlier now, more of a grandfather to the high school students from the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra joining the professionals for the annual Side By Side concert.

He as already begun a series of 'lasts' as musical director, this one from one generation to another.

His era lasted through thousands of concerts, through the tragedy of the Murrah Bombing, to MAPS renovations, and, finally, to an evening rehearsal for new talent.

Maestro Joel Levine prepares to pass the baton know that his city really did need an orchestra, and the right man to lead it.

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Oklahoma Youth Orchestra sit together April 26th at the OCCC Auditorium, at 7:30pm for the Side By Side Concert.

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