ENID, Okla. —
By Bridget Nash
Many Enid residents recognize Douglas Newell as the music and executive director of Enid Symphony Orchestra, but Newell can be found enhancing the community with his talents in various pockets of the city.
“I have had roles in a couple of Gaslight (Theatre productions), and I look forward to more,” Newell said. “I love the stage. It gives me a different outlet from music. There are a lot of wonderful people involved in Gaslight.”
Newell attended North Carolina School of the Arts as a music major but also studied theater. His children have continued the tradition by being involved in theater, as well.
Another creative outlet Newell has a love for is the art of the automobile.
“I’m a car enthusiast,” he said. “We own two Porsche 944s, an ’86 and an ’88. I love to tinker and to drive and take myself on trips.”
“The most important thing I did as a kid was compete in the national Soap Box Derby,” he said.
Soap Box Derby events are car races at which kids make and race their own cars down a hill.
“It got sophisticated,” said Newell. “You learn a lot (making the cars).”
His involvement in Soap Box Derby races and his job in college as a mechanic’s assistant fueled his passion for automobiles.
Spending time under the hood is only one of the ways Newell works with his hands. He also enjoys carpentry, and he and his wife, Lawana, enjoy painting projects.
“I’ve always been interested in making things,” Newell said. “I wanted to be an architect when I was younger. I studied drafting in high school.”
But Newell is best known for using his hands to communicate in the language of music, and his talent is spread thickly throughout the area.
Newell is director of the Chancel’s Choir at First United Methodist Church in Enid. His first experience with directing church music came when he was a teen. Newell said his first job was choir director at a Lutheran church when he was 17 years old. He also spent 11 years as the orchestra teacher at Enid High School.
Newell’s contribution to the world of music doesn’t end with Enid’s city limits.
“I’m a consultant for other non-profit arts organizations for young musicians through the New England Conservatory for Music and North Caroline School of the Arts Mentor Programs, and I mentor young executive directors who lead other orchestras,” he said.
Newell also is on the roster of Arts Consulting Group based out of Los Angeles, New York and Boston. Being on the roster of this organization means Newell is a recommended potential mentor for other arts organizations.
Currently Newell travels one day a week to Alva, where he teaches voice.
Newell came to Enid in 1983, and he led the campaign to turn the old Knox Building into Enid Symphony Center, which allowed him to utilize his musical talents as well as his carpentry skills.
When he isn’t making things or sharing his musical gift, Newell enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren.
“We’re very, very proud of our children,” he said. “They were all born in Enid. We came here 31 years ago with no children.
“I have just been very fortunate to be around so many people with so many diverse skills,” Newell said. “I don’t think there is anyone I’ve ever met that didn’t make an impression, that didn’t make me a more well-rounded person.”
When he has some down time, Newell said he explores his avid interest in politics and also likes to read music history.