The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Oklahomans in Action

April 18, 2008

Resting on its laurels

Tradition, legacy paramount to success of annual music festival

It would be difficult to find anyone in the region who hasn’t either participated in or attended at least one of the 75 Tri-State Music Festivals.

It remains popular, organizers say, because it continues to reinvent itself to meet the needs of music students across the area — and because of its long-standing tradition of providing musical opportunities, fun and fellowship.

“The biggest factor in this is ... parents came when they were young. They want their kids to come to Tri-State,” said Tri-State Managing Director C.W. “Junior” Simmons.

Organizers and board members of the annual Tri-State Music Festival work hard each year to make sure the event continues to be known as the premiere school music event of the year.

Just last year, organizers implemented some new traditions. A commemorative souvenir program to celebrate the 75th annual festival was released. The program was a tribute to past managing directors and board members, who Simmons said, work very hard to make the event a success every year.

Two years ago, a dance was implemented and Simmons said it has been a hit. New last year was the pop choir category, in which groups sing pop music without choreography.

Also, a piece was commissioned last year and selected as the finale at the event’s Grand Concert. “Music Across the Plains,” was commissioned by Tri-State for the 75th edition and was premiered at the concert. Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce helped with the cost of commissioning the music, Simmons said. Simmons said last year he hoped the piece would become the traditional closing for Tri-State.

The Grand Concert always features a number of renowned directors, leading the honor bands, choirs, symphonies and other musicians.

Also last year, Simmons coordinated the participation of Irv Wagner, the University of Oklahoma trombone choir leader to try and gather 76 trombones to lead the Tri-State Music Festival Multi-Million Dollar Parade. Simmons said the goal is the same this year for the 76th annual Tri-State Music Festival.

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Oklahomans in Action