The best music in the world will be in Stillwater this weekend.
Oklahoma State University is ready to celebrate a great accomplishment, the completion of the Mc-
Knight Center for the Performing Arts, and it’s doing so with some great performances.
The New York Philharmonic — the orchestra whose history includes names like Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein — will be in residence at the center for the opening weekend, presenting four public concerts full of masterworks.
Having one of the greatest orchestras in the world on its new stage brings international attention to the McKnight Center, and it deserves the spotlight.
The 65,000-square-foot facility along the southwest corner of University Avenue and Hester Street houses two state-of-the-art performance spaces and an adjacent outdoor plaza whose 32-foot LED screen and surround-sound system will allow performances to be simulcast in real time.
The big venue is a 1,098-seat auditorium with a stage the size and quality of bigger houses in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. That means a relatively intimate facility can host a Mahler-sized orchestra, a full-fledged ballet and grand opera that is truly grand.
Over the coming months, the world-class attractions continue, including a concert by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields featuring violin superstar Joshua Bell and performances featuring two Tulsans — bass master Edgar Meyer and soprano supreme Sarah Coburn — whose acknowledged brilliance has taken them around the world.
The McKnights in the McKnight Center are Ross and Billie McKnight, OSU alumni who pledged $25 million to establish an endowment to provide programming for the facility. With matching pledges, that money should grow into $50 million set aside for programming.
As beautiful as the building is, we see vision in the decision to emphasize the performances that will happen inside. What will make the new facility great is what happens there, and thanks to the philanthropy of the McKnights, what will be happening in Stillwater will be truly world-class for a long, long time to come.