In response to the COVID-19 pandemic—which forced the venerated Summer Institute at Quartz Mountain to move its programming online this year—alumni, educators and supporters come together with “One Voice”

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — For over four decades, Oklahoma’s most talented high school students have gathered each June in the Wichita Mountains for intensive studies in their artistic disciplines. For a young artist in Oklahoma seeking to further their skills, acceptance into the Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain is the holy grail.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic began, plans for the in-person Institute quickly fell apart, leaving hundreds of aspiring artists in its wake. And as the isolation of shelter-in-place orders set in, the Arts Institute’s President & CEO, Julie Cohen, searched for ways to bring their community together, resulting in “One Voice,” a virtual choir rendition of a song by the Wailin’ Jennys.

“‘One Voice’” speaks to the power of individual voices joining together,” said Cohen. “It seemed like the perfect metaphor for our isolation and the need to pull together during this difficult time.”

The project features Oklahoma Arts Institute community members of all ages and from all parts of the country—including students and alumni of the Summer Arts Institute, as well as educators and others who participate in the Institute’s programs.

Participants recorded themselves singing at home, with violin and guitar accompaniment created by Kyle Dillingham and Peter Markes of Horseshoe Road, both of whom are also Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute alumni. The individual videos were edited together to create a moving performance that builds as a single voice and is joined by many to reach a crescendo of voices singing in harmony. In the final video project, the performers appear on screen together, singing the words, “This is…the sound of me singing with you, helping each other to make it through.”

View “One Voice” on the Oklahoma Arts Institute’s YouTube channel.

The Oklahoma Arts Institute is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1977, with a mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts. Students are selected for the Summer Arts Institute through a competitive statewide audition, and every accepted student attends the program on a full scholarship. In addition to the Summer Arts Institute, OAI administers a series of continuing education workshops for adults every fall. For more information, visit oaiquartz.org.

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