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Artists in Residence

Valery Kuleshov

photo of pianist Valery KuleshovThe University of Central Oklahoma, the College of Fine Arts and Design and the School of Music are pleased to have pianist Valery Kuleshov as an Artist in Residence.

Valery Kuleshov and his wife Kate came to the University of Central Oklahoma in 1998. He serves as an Artist in Residence for the College of Fine Arts and Design in the School of Music. Kuleshov, a pianist, is an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation whose awards include a Gold Medal at the Busoni International Piano Competition (1987), a Silver Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (1993) and the first prize at the Pro Piano Competition (1998).

Kuleshov regularly tours the world, performing in some of the world's best concert halls including New York's Carnegie Hall, the Milan Conservatory in Italy and the Great Halls of the Moscow Conservatory and St. Petersburg Philharmonic.

Kuleshov was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, near what is now Kazakhstan. He began playing by ear at age five. Teachers soon noticed his talent, and by age seven he had left home to enter the prestigious Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory. At age nine, he made his concert debut in the Conservatory's Great Hall.

Kuleshov briefly studied with piano legend Vladimir Horowitz. In 2001, he released "Homage to Vladimir Horowitz," a CD of Kuleshov's transcriptions of his mentor's works. He also has released several other CDs. 

Kuleshov performs concerts each year at the University of Central Oklahoma. Students in the UCO Symphony Orchestra often get the opportunity to accompany him during his performances, and, at times, Kuleshov gives solo performances.

Reviews for Valery Kuleshov:

"He has everything: the fingers to negotiate the virtuoso repertory, the musicality and imagination to make the most familiar music sound fresh and compelling."
- The New York Times

"Kuleshov's performance will long be remembered by the audience as singularly remarkable. In short, he wowed ‘em." 
- Midland Daily News

"Valery Kuleshov proceeded to light up the sky, setting off pyrotechnical rockets of sound and showering the audience with sweeps of notes as exciting as they were exceptional."
- The Dallas Morning News

"What sound! What allure! What a musician!"
- Le Monde 

"Kuleshov is an aggressively confident performer, a technical wizard at the keyboard, and possesses supreme concentration skills. No doubt Vladimir Horowitz smiled from above and applauded, too."
- The Australian

Alexander Mickelthwate

alexander mickelthwateThe University of Central Oklahoma College of Fine Arts and Design and the School of Music has appointed Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate as their newest artist in residence. In this new role, Mickelthwate will serve as conductor of the UCO Symphony Orchestra, teach aspiring graduate orchestral conducting students and assist in recruiting students to the UCO School of Music. Mickelthwate will continue to serve as the music director and conductor for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic where he has been since 2018.

Born and raised in Frankfurt Germany to a musical family, Alexander received his degree from the Peabody Institute of Music. He studied conducting under Fredric Prausnitz and Gustav Meier as well as with Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Daniel Barenboim and Robert Spano at Tanglewood. He is married to fashion designer Abigail Mickelthwate and has two sons.

Mickelthwate served as assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony through the 2003–2004 season. During his tenure there, he founded the new music ensemble Bent Frequency. From 2004 to 2006, he served as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was promoted to associate conductor for the 2006–2007 season and concluded his Los Angeles tenure in August 2007.

In February 2006, Mickelthwate was named the music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and took up the post in September 2006, where he remained until the 2017–2018 season.

In November 2016, Mickelthwate guest conducted the Oklahoma City Philharmonic for the first time. In May 2017, the orchestra named him its next music director, and he became music director beginning with the 2018–2019 season.

In March 2022, Mickelthwate accepted the position of Music Director of the Bear Valley Music Festival.

For three years Alexander created a critically acclaimed Indigenous Festival in Winnipeg. Passionate to connect with all cultures, he created artistic collaborations between First Nations and Western cultures that culminated in the performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Revueltas’ Les Noches de los Mayas with new choreographies of contemporary and First Nations dance.

Reviews for Alexander Mickelthwate:

“The Winnipeg Symphony performance at Carnegie Hall was conducted expertly."
-The New York Times

“Under music director Alexander Mickelthwate, they (the Winnipeg Symphony) play with excellent intonation and such a fine overall blend and balance of sound that, on their own terms, they may be the best orchestra to appear in the week’s worth of concerts.”
- New York Classical Review

Concerning Mickelthwate’s interpretation of Mahler’s 10th Symphony with the Winnipeg Symphony “Both Mahler 10 performances were intense and engaging. Every twist and turn in the score was fresh and surprising to my ears.” 
- Norman Lebrecht, British music journalist

“I would like to call attention to the stunning performance heard after the intermission. To play Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 with the passion, profundity, emotional intensity, subtlety and degree of perfection achieved by conductor Alexander Mickelthwate and the Winnipeg Symphony can only be called miraculous.”
- Anton Kuerti, Canadian pianist, composer and conductor