And while the ensemble includes some university music students and a small group who make their living as musicians, most are amateurs who simply love to play. "The orchestra I inherited six years ago featured fine players by and large,” Fletcher said. "I throw some demanding things at them and they generally rise to the occasion. These are people who want to play exciting, challenging music, so we try our best to strike a balance.” A survey of past concerts reveals programming that any musician would be proud to perform: symphonies by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Bizet, overtures by Brahms and Verdi, and concertos that spotlight the talents of area professionals such as Gregory Lee, Amy Cheng and Tess Remy-Schumacher. The orchestra also sponsors an annual young artist competition for students ages 17 to 25 who are enrolled at an Oklahoma college or university. Winners of the competition take home a cash prize and have an opportunity to perform with the Oklahoma Community Orchestra. "I like being able to generate an awareness of the orchestra around the state,” Fletcher said. "We’re slowly building audiences and I’m really pleased with how the group plays up to the level of the literature. For me, it’s very fulfilling.”
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John Fletcher→Title: Music director, Oklahoma Community Orches tra; professor of music, Oklahoma Christian University. →Hometown: Edmond. →Age: 50. →Education: Bachelor of arts in music, Oklahoma Christian University; Master of Music in music theory, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting, University of Oklahoma.