Southeastern Oklahoma State University has been bringing musical arts to southern Oklahoma for 43 years. The Musical Arts Series at the university will begin its 44th season on Sept. 14.

There will be eight performances held this season at the school. The first one, a mezzo-soprano performance by Catherine Martin will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Fine Arts Recital Hall on the school's campus.

“The Musical Arts Series was created in 1973 by Dr. James Wendell,” SOSU Musical Arts Series Coordinator Jeremy Blackwood said. “It was his idea to provide free concerts on the SOSU campus for students as well as those from the surrounding community.”

Past Musical Arts Series performers have included The King's Singers, the Julliard String Quartet, Fifth House and the Harlem Boys Choir. This season, there will be a performance by the Houston-based WindSync on Sept. 26. Ruth Steger Piano Institute and Clark and Wanda Bass Foundation will sponsor a performance by pianist Solungga Liu on Oct. 12 and on Nov. 7, there will be a performance by Injunuity, a Native America flute-centric roots group, at the Montgomery Auditorium Visual and Performing Arts Center on the SOSU campus.

“We generally have singers and classical music performances,” Blackwood said. “We try to look for variety. We also like to make sure that each performance is different for the audience.”

Because the Musical Arts Series is able to receive funding from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Red River Arts Council, Oklahoma Arts Council, Native American Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts and donors, concerts and performances are free for attendees.

“Attendance varies at each of the performance,” Blackwood said. “The Recital Hall seats about 180 people. We generally have about 100 people at each performance.”

The Musical Arts Series also allows students to take a class with series performers. SOSU voice students will get to participate in a master class at 4 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.

“Part of the mission for the Musical Arts Series is for the artists to go to area schools and meet with students,” Blackwood said. “Catherine will be going to the vocal class at Durant High School the week of the performance.”

Performance and watching or listening to performances, Blackwood said, is an avenue for expression for people.

“We want people to experience art in different ways and also have the chance to experience art on professional levels,” he said. “It is also good for art exposure for this little rural Southeast Oklahoma town. Our lives are better because we have these experiences. We are a go-go-go society, but we have that moment to be transported and listen to great music.”

Blackwood, who has been coordinating the series for two years, is excited to see students excited about the performances.

“We will be having an ensemble out of Houston that will be going to Silo ISD at the end of September,” he said. “They are an underserved school district as far as musical arts is concerned. With this trip, they will be exposed to instruments that they may have never seen before as well as a wind quartet. That is really cool. Last year, we brought some Baroque cellist to Silo ISD. That was really heartwarming to see their excitement, not just about the instruments, but they were excited about art.”

Blackwood said he loves that he can offer these kinds of experiences to not just students, he is able to open them up to the community.

“These concerts are free so mark your calendars and support local artists,” Blackwood said. “Allow yourself the opportunity to be transported with the music. Music can soothe the savage beast. It soothes the soul.”

For more information about this event and or information about becoming become a sponsor of the Music Arts Series, contact Dr. Jeremy Blackwood, MAS Coordinator, at 580-745-2096.