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(COURTESY PHOTO) The Oklahoma Baptist Symphony will perform at Cameron Baptist Church on March 13. The symphony is part of the Worship and Music Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and is made up of 65 Baptist volunteers from across Oklahoma.

Baptist Symphony to perform in city

The Oklahoma Baptist Symphony will perform its March concert at Cameron Baptist Church March 13.

The 65-member symphony travels across Oklahoma from September to May each year performing free concerts in churches. Sponsored by the Worship and Music Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, the full orchestra is a ministry composed of volunteers from various backgrounds.

Appointed as conductor in August, Jim Hansford performed in the symphony's trombone section for four years after retiring from Oklahoma Baptist University as director of bands and orchestra and coordinator of the instrumental music department for 20 years. Hansford was honored when presented with the opportunity to conduct.

"Working with this group is unique in that it's all volunteer and it's all Baptist musicians from across the state that volunteer to perform with this symphony about eight times a year," Hansford said. "They're a great group to work with, and it's just a really great outlet  musically and spiritually  for me."

Michael Raiper preceded Hansford, who said Raiper "had done a really nice job. He was a good friend. I just enjoyed being a part of the group, and being able to conduct was even a greater honor."

Each year, the symphony does extensive traveling during the touring months and performs an eclectic repertoire. The concert the symphony will perform at Cameron Baptist will be "Exaltations," composed of 13 to 14 works. Many of the arrangements are based on hymn tunes, and there will be some pieces of contemporary Christian music and classical works. Hansford said visits to each church are always different, but the concerts are a joyous experience.

"Some churches have a nice, big stage and some you have to work yourself in around the choir loft and all of that, so that's always a challenge," Hansford said. "But there's not a lot of groups like ours, and so it's kind of unique, and people enjoy coming out and hearing a full symphony orchestra do sacred music; although we don't do 100 percent sacred music, but we do mostly sacred music."

Joel and Susan Haas have performed with the orchestra for 18 and 20 years, respectively. Susan Haas plays clarinet and her husband is the symphony's pianist. Both are retired public school music teachers, and in their retirement they perform with the symphony while teaching at Lawton Christian and conducting orchestras for home-schooled children in Lawton and Wichita Falls, Texas. They attend Cameron Baptist Church and are excited for their congregation to hear a full orchestra.

"They see our church orchestra play," Susan Haas said, "which is really small, but to see a full orchestra play is a great experience. Most of them don't get to see that often."

"We have three strings where the symphony has 20-25," Joel Haas said. "We have two trumpets, where the symphony has six. It's a big sound."

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