New York Philharmonic, Kelli O’Hara kicks off opening of performing arts center at OSU

STILLWATER, Okla. – In a matter of days, guests will be able to hear from a world-renowned symphony orchestra in celebration of a new center.

After two-and-a-half years, the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts is finally ready to open to the public.

“Everything is kind of designed to compel you forward, which I think is really fascinating,” Executive Director of The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University Mark Blakeman said.

The performance hall holds 1,100 seats, making every performance an intimate experience.

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts

“From a production standpoint, we can accommodate very large, complex productions, but we get to do it in a very intimate environment,” Blakeman said.

Organizers say the outdoor plaza will also be able to simulcast what is going on inside the center onto a 32-foot screen for free.

“It’s an incredible bridge to the community that is an entry point for people to get a taste of what it is that we do on a regular basis,” Blakeman said.

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts

Now, the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts will begin its inaugural season during a three-day series of performances beginning on Friday, Oct. 11.

The weekend’s performances will feature the New York Philharmonic under the direction of music director Jaap van Zweden with special appearances by concertmaster Frank Huang and Kelli O’Hara.

“The New York Philharmonic would not normally come to a community of 50,000 people and present 20 different events,” Blakeman said.

The New York Philharmonic’s residency runs Oct. 11 through Oct. 14 and will include performances, educational master classes, and lectures.

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts

“Oklahoma State University has long anticipated the opening of The McKnight Center, which will be an epicenter for impressive talent and an expression of Oklahoma State University’s commitment to the arts,” OSU President Burns Hargis said. “I look forward to this weekend’s series of exceptional events and experiences. There is no better way to kick off our season than with the extraordinary talent of The New York Philharmonic.”

“It’s inspiring to see a vision become a reality, especially when that vision centers on championing the arts for future generations,” said Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic. “We know that residency partnerships benefit the regional community, faculty and, of course, the students, but it’s also true that these types of partnerships invigorate the New York Philharmonic’s musicians and management, especially since the center provides an opportunity for our musicians to engage with the audience in a much more intimate setting.”

Tickets for Friday’s black-tie gala performance are still available here.

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