Cool Classics Summer Concert Series Celebrates 13th Season at Sheerar Center

Story and photo provided by Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar

This July, the “Cool Classics” summer concert series will return to the Stillwater History Museum and Sheerar Cultural Center Auditorium, located at 7th and Duncan Street in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This will be the 13th season of this summer tradition bringing cool musical relief to the summer when Stillwater’s arts and culture scene is just a little quieter. All concerts within the series take place at 7:30 pm on July 12th, 19th, and 26th. Each concert will be approximately one hour in length. Admission is completely free, but seating will be limited to the first 200 people in attendance. Each concert will be followed by a reception sponsored by local community groups including the Daughters of the American Revolution on July 12th, League of Women Voters Stillwater on July 19th, and the Payne County Historical Society on July 26th

A new addition to this year’s series will be a performance by Erin Yeaman, an award-winning classical cellist, who is an active soloist, chamber musician, freelance and orchestra musician.  A native of Oklahoma, Erin won several competitions as a young cellist, including the Buttram Donna Turner Smith Cello Competition, the University of Oklahoma concerto competition, Women’s Music Club, and Channing Chamber Music Competition. Erin will be accompanied by her pianist Monica Tessitore and flutist Jennifer Peck. 

The OK Strings will be joining us on July 19th, for a second year.  This group was put together by Kaleb Benda who is accompanied by Assistant Conductor of the Enid Symphony Orchestra, and Director of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Concert Band. Kaleb Benda holds a degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas and received his Master of Music in Conducting degree from the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. Jose Batty currently serves on faculty at El Sistema Oklahoma in Oklahoma City as a conductor and violin teacher and is also the conductor for the Southwestern College Youth Symphony in Winfield, Kansas.  Melissa Delgado received degrees from Cameron University and the University of Oklahoma in vocal performance. Melissa has performed with the Tulsa Opera, the Lawton Philharmonic, Cimarron Opera, Painted Sky Opera, the University of Oklahoma Opera, and several performing ensembles in the Tulsa area. Maria Marcos currently serves as the concertmaster of the UCO symphony and chamber orchestras. Ryan Kyker is currently studying with Dr. Ralph Morris in his course of study for his BMA in music education with a minor in psychology and interpersonal communication. Angela ‘Florence’ Thompson is a 3rd year Viola Performance major at the University of Central Oklahoma. She currently performs as a violist with the Sooner Sinfonia, UCO Opera, UCO Symphony Orchestra, UCO Chamber Orchestra, UCO vocal ensembles, and plays the oboe with the UCO Symphonic Band. Michele Whittaker recently joined members of the Enid Symphony and UCO students at their performance of Così fan Tutte. She is currently the principal cellist of the Sooner Sinfonia.

The series’ final performance will be on July 27th with a performance by Trio Aleszky.  This group is made up of Allyson Eskitch on piano, Paulo Eskitch on violin, and Krassi Figg on cello.  Trio Aleszky is a group comprised of renowned teachers of music. Individually, the members of this group have achieved high honors in musical teaching and performance alike, both domestically and internationally. Allyson Eskitch has participated in several chamber music festivals and has performed both as a soloist and collaborative artist all over the United States. Paulo Eskitch has been Associate Concertmaster of the Signature Symphony at TCC since 2004, and performs with many local and regional orchestras, including the Tulsa Symphony, Tulsa Opera, Orchestra, and SONA. Krassimira Vassileva Figg is an internationally award-winning cellist, and her dynamic performances have been featured on radio and television broadcasts throughout Bulgaria, France, Italy, and the United States. Since 2009, she has played in numerous performances and is now the Assistant Principal cellist of the Tulsa Opera, a member of the Tulsa Symphony and founding member of Tulsa Camerata.For the past twelve years, the “Cool Classics” concert series has provided concerts to the community of Stillwater. Originally organized by the St. Cecilia Music Club, Mahlon Halleck, a local strings instructor, came up with the idea of starting a summer concert series in 2007. Due to the lack of cultural activities, this unique summer concert series was started to give performers the chance to showcase their talents during the slower, summer months. The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar took over hosting the concert series in 2012.  The 13th season of the “Cool Classics” summer concert series is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, which receives support from the State of Oklahoma and the National Endowment for the Arts.