City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

The Norman PHIL

November Concert to Celebrate Our American Heritage Through Music

In November, Cleveland County City Lifestyle readers and others in the metro area will have a unique opportunity to attend a Norman Philharmonic performance celebrating our American heritage through music reminding citizens of our connection to one another and featuring Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, acclaimed Chickasaw classical composer, pianist and 2011 Emmy Award winner. Underwritten by the Chickasaw Nation, the Nov. 17 performance will feature the works of a European American, Native American and Spanish composer to demonstrate the unifying influence of music. 

The concert will feature Jerod Tate’s Shakamaxon. The Treaty of Shackamaxon, explains Norman PHIL Executive Director Cathy Griffin, was a legendary treaty between William Penn and Tamanend of the Lenape signed in 1682 in which it was agreed that their people would live in a state of perpetual peace. The concert also includes Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite using the original instrumentation for 13 players and Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, featuring Larry Hammett, director of guitar studies at the University of Oklahoma who performs as a classical soloist and with his jazz trio.  

Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for students age 16 and under and can be purchased online at

The Norman PHIL: A Brief History

 The Norman Philharmonic, or Norman PHIL, was organized in 2011 to establish an innovative and standard-setting chamber orchestra capable of performing a wide range of music—from classical to jazz to contemporary—to further enhance Norman’s vibrant arts community, Cathy explains.

As part of its mission, the organization highlights local talent –featuring professional musicians from Norman and the surrounding area. The Norman PHIL has commissioned new works from American composers and regularly features a guest composer’s works as part of its season. The Norman PHIL is also committed to exciting the youth of Oklahoma about symphonic music and each year offers an educational outreach concert to over 2,000 students in the Norman Public Schools so they can experience a live performance.

In 2011, Libby Larson, a Grammy-award-winning American composer, was commissioned by the Norman Philharmonic to compose a symphony, “Forward” and the “Norman Anthem,” for our city, which were both performed at the opening concert; the “Norman Anthem” continues to be taught each year to fourth and fifth graders. In 2018, the Norman Philharmonic launched its inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration concert, which combines Norman PHIL musicians, Unity Choir, soloists and speakers on human rights into a powerful and uplifting celebration honoring the important work of the late civil rights leader. During the COVID pandemic, the organization produced its Norman PHIL season virtually for 1 1/2 years by offering video performances, returning to live performances for the 2021-22 season.

The Norman PHIL performs in a variety of settings within Norman, including the Nancy O’Brian Center for Performing Arts, area churches, Paul F. Sharp Hall (in Catlett Music Center) on the University of Oklahoma campus, and parks.

The Norman Philharmonic has also collaborated with other arts organizations including music, dance, film and the visual arts. Signature works include Voices of Light, a 1994 musical composition by Richard Einhorn and performed with chorus and soloists with the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer; Joseph Haydn’s Creation, performed with students from the OU School of Dance; Jerod Tate’s Tracing Mississippi, which traces the roots of Tate’s family back to the mass exodus of the 1830s, when the Chickasaws and other American Indian tribes were displaced from northern Mississippi and Alabama to Oklahoma; and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, performed with the 1945 film of the ballet choreographed by Martha Graham.

Conducting the philharmonic since its inception is Richard Zielinski, aka Dr. Z, who is widely noted for his innovative programming and versatility as both an orchestral and choral conductor, performing both classical and contemporary repertoire. Dr. Z has conducted extensively both in the United States and abroad and is in his 18th year as the music and artistic director of the 48-year-old Classical Music Festival held in Eisenstadt, Austria. He has also conducted choruses and orchestras throughout Poland. Throughout his career, this charismatic conductor has devoted time to working with students and young artists. He has been a member of the music faculty at OU since 2009 while also serving as the director of music Ministry at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church.

How to Get Involved

 Readers can get involved as volunteers, financial donors (88% of the Norman Phil’s revenue comes from contributions, 26% of that comes from individual donors), concert-goers, board members, and singers. There will be two opportunities for singers this season; visit their website for details or contact Cathy at

To learn more about the Norman PHIL and to view its list of 2023 performances, visit

  • The Norman Philharmonic, along with chorus and soloists, presents Voices of Light, performed with the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc.
  • The Norman PHIL offers an educational outreach concert to over 2,000 in the Norman Public Schools so they can experience a live performance.