For five Moore students, it was a journey that began last winter. They applied, auditioned, and interviewed for the prestigious Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain (OSAI).
Over 1,300 students auditioned for just 271 spots, and Stephen Lewis, Jacob Fernandez, Michael Holleyman, Erin Melton and Olivia Branscum were selected to attend the program. These Moore students are being taught by nationally renowned artists, including Grammy-nominated musician Don Byron.
In conjunction with acceptance, Moore students received full scholarships to the program, worth over $2,500 each.
Lewis attends Southmoore High School and was selected for the orchestra program. Westmoore High School students Fernandez and Holleyman were also selected for the orchestra, and Melton will study ballet. Branscum, a homeschooled student from Moore, will also study ballet.
“I am honored to have been selected for the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute this year,” Fernandez said. “I look forward to spending countless hours playing my bassoon, making new friends who have similar interests, and furthering my education in the arts. It’s great to live in a state that provides such an opportunity.”
At OSAI, Oklahoma high school students spend at least six hours a day studying one of nine artistic disciplines in the literary, visual, and performing arts. In the evenings, they attend a variety of performances, lectures, and demonstrations in order to learn about arts other than their chosen discipline. Students from different disciplines, towns, and backgrounds study, reside and eat meals together. With so many highly motivated and talented students working together in close quarters, lifelong friendships and career-enhancing collaborations often develop.
“I am extremely excited to be attending OSAI this summer,” Melton said. “It will be a thrilling challenge, and a chance to meet new and wonderful people along with becoming closer with already good friends.”
This is the program’s thirty-sixth year, and since its inception, many famous artists have taught at OSAI. Former faculty include recipients of the Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
“This is my second year to attend OSAI,” Holleyman said. “It has given me the experience to perform with a top-rated orchestra that has excellent supervisors and mentors. I am so grateful to be able to return to OSAI and meet even more of the friendly and talented students who live in Oklahoma.”
OSAI takes place inside Quartz Mountain state park. The facilities are secluded between Lake Altus-Lugert and the dry, cacti-dotted Quartz Mountains, creating an ideal location for total arts immersion. Students and faculty gain inspiration from the beautiful natural setting.
“Being accepted to OSAI is very important to me because it is an opportunity that not many people will get,” Lewis said. “The level of talent involved makes this camp a very special experience.”
Branscum said, “Being accepted to OSAI has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I am hoping to grow as a dancer and better myself for years to come.”
OSAI culminates in ONSTAGE Weekend, June 22 and 23. The weekend consists of concerts, performances, film screenings, and gallery exhibitions where every OSAI student has a chance to display their work. All events are free and open to the public, and a performance schedule is available at www.oaiquartz.org or 605-7500.