Dillingham, Clarke speak of 'Life Symphony' set for OK Mozart Grand Finale

They are a violinist and a composer and their story is a microcosm of their vision to be realized Saturday night during the OK Mozart Grand Finale — and they plan to bring symphony back.

Guest violinist and Oklahoman Kyle Dillingham's dream was to play solo with an orchestra. Composer Callen Clarke's dream was to be a symphonic composer.

On Saturday night, Dillingham will perform solos and in accompaniment with Amici New York Orchestra in a premiere of Callen Clarke's "Life Symphony," a work geared toward drawing the attention of the audience from the soloist to the orchestra to eventually include the audience itself into making the of the music.

"It's about bringing the musical focus from a single figure to be a collective experience," Clarke told 2NEWS about their vision to be brought to fruition during Saturday night's planned OK Mozart grand finale event at the Bartlesville Community Center.

Clarke, who has been composing since he moved to Oklahoma at age five age and who specializes in Middle-Eastern music, performing often on the oud, explained how music was once a communal experience — created and enjoyed as a group.

Over time though, music has become more individualized, he explained, the focus being on a single musicians or a small group of musicians performing the music, and being enjoyed individually, not in community as orchestras were enjoyed two-hundred years ago.

"Music created in commune, as seen in the symphony orchestra, is becoming extinct," he said.

His focus is now, as it has been, to prevent that death and to revive the experience of the symphony orchestra.

Dillingham has a similar vision and helped to provide Clarke with the means to give life to his dream.

He began his conquest into the world of the violin at age nine after his parents brought him to a garage sale and the people there encouraged his parents to buy a violin.

"Dad said, 'What in the world are we going to do with violin?'" Dillingham recounted to 2NEWS. "The answer became 'What in the world aren't we going to do with a violin.'"

Since his parents shelled out that $35 dollars for the instrument, Dillingham took off in his mastery of the violin playing for his church worship team. He went on later to play with the often acclaimed father of bluegrass music Bill Monroe and the Grand Ole Opry and also then toured with western swing legend Hank Thompson.

Dillingham went on to travel the world performing for such figures as the King of Malaysia, the Princess of Thailand, ambassadors of Japan, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, at Singapore's National Day Celebration, and at the Beijing Central Conservatory for broadcast on national television.

Having taken his music to over 30 countries, he earned the title of "Oklahoma's Musical Ambassador."

During this time as a "music diplomat," as he called it, he found music had a strong natural ability to bring people together.

He said as his career as a fiddle-player took off, his dream of playing solo with an orchestra began to fade.

"It was more interesting and fruitful if I could use my music to connect a group of people to something," he said, saying he has helped individuals connect to education opportunities in Oklahoma City and to study abroad experiences — all to promote good will.

"Basically, that trail led to an outline, a plot of what Callen and I could do with the future of symphony orchestra in mind."

Clarke, who had known Dillingham for a number of years by that time said one day he had an epiphany and it included Dillingham.

"I woke up one day and realized if I was going to be one of those composers I admire, like Bach or Schostakovich, and I knew somebody like Kyle, I would naturally compose for him."

"I began to look at the idea of what we could do together to help revive symphony music world-wide."

With Dillingham in mind, he began composing a symphony that says life is worth living and i"n a broader sense, if we are going to have revival of symphonic music, its going to have to be based on positive values."

The two who had individual dreams in the world of music melded their dreams into a collective one, to bring music from being an individually created and enjoyed phenomenon back to being a communally created and enjoyed experience.

"People seem attracted to music and I think my real gift is connecting people," Dillingham told 2NEWS, saying he wanted to be the musical bridge to transfer people's musical focus from the individual to the collective, to the symphony.

That is what Dillingham and Clarke plan to do at 8 p.m. Saturday night at the Bartlesville Community Center during the first performance of Clarke's "Life Symphony."

Clarke explained he strategically designed symphony to first focus the audience on Dillingham, then to transfer it to the orchestra, with Dillingham fading into the orchestral mix, and eventually to include the audience itself into the making of the music.

Asked why they do the work they do, Dillingham said "I believe that whenever

I perform, no matter when or where that it is, it is an act of worship that God can use to touch people's lives."

Clarke said "God made me to make music."

Those interested in more about the work of Clarke and Dillingham can click here .

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