Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

March 2010

ECU's Holly Gaines Awarded Flute From Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation

Photo of Holly Gaines.
Holly Gaines of Wilson plays the new $15,000 flute she received from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation at East Central University. She received the foundation’s Michael Kamen Solo Award after being nominated by her ECU flute instructor, Juliana Overmier.

Holly Gaines thought she was going to Ada for her weekly flute lesson at East Central University. Instead, her instructor, flutist Juliana Overmier, led her into a room where she was greeted by relatives, ECU representatives, a board member from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation – and a new $15,000 flute.

Gaines, a senior at Wilson High School and a concurrent student at ECU, received The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation's Michael Kamen Solo Award from Bill Harvey of Cincinnati, a member of the foundation’s board and one of seven individuals responsible for selecting her for the award.

Overmier nominated Gaines for the award based on her talent – she won four competitions in two weeks in February – and her need for a better flute to achieve her potential. Buying a new instrument for her was not an option for her family.

“The grant application for Holly Gaines received a unanimous vote of approval in a record time for any of the solo applications that the grant committee has reviewed,” Harvey said. “Her performance on the flute was first and foremost exceptionally musical, but the sound and style exhibited a passion not heard in most student musicians.”

Harvey is a member of the foundation’s Grant Committee.

“Reviewing her application and learning of the major impact that music had on her life told us the rest of the story,” Harvey said.” Music has provided a powerful force to allow Holly to become a young woman capable of succeeding at the highest levels. The Michael Kamen soloist award seems to have been created just so that this young lady can continue her incredible success."

The award is named after the founder of the foundation, the late Michael Kamen, a Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated composer and conductor. He composed the score for “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and one of his Grammys was for his “American Symphony” from the movie.

“I knew this award would be a perfect fit for Holly,” Overmier said. “It is awarded to highly deserving students to bring them to the next level so they can reach their full potential.

“Holly has achieved every goal she’s ever tried,” Overmier added. “She’s done everything she can to be where she is today.”

Kamen founded the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation in 1996 to keep music alive in the nation’s schools and communities by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs. Its mission includes giving youngsters the many benefits of music education, helping them to be better students and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music.

Gaines won four music competitions in two weeks during February. She received an Outstanding High School Soloist award at the Oklahoma Flute Society's Solo and Ensemble Festival at the University of Central Oklahoma and won the Oklahoma City Symphonic Band Young Artist Competition and both the Woodwind Division and the Carver Competition in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic's Music Olympics.
Overmier said Gaines has earned distinction as the highest ranking high school-aged flutist in Oklahoma for the past three years at both the Small Schools' Allstate Band Competitions and the Oklahoma Music Educators' Association (All-OMEA) Allstate Band Competitions.

She was selected to attend the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain where she studied orchestral literature and chamber music. She also was chosen by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic to perform in its Side-By-Side Concert where she shared a stand with principal flutist Dr. Valerie Watts.
Gaines is valedictorian of her graduating class at Wilson High School. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, and when she graduates she already will have completed 30 hours of college credit. She is a member of both the Oklahoma Honor Society and the National Honor Society. She is also academic team captain and a member of the Beta club, a community service organization.
She performed on the Music Olympics Winners Concert on Feb. 21 at Oklahoma City University and is scheduled to perform with the Oklahoma City Symphonic Band at 7:30 p.m. April 29 at Putnam City High School.

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation benefits an average of 10,000 young people across the country every year. In the last 12 years, new and refurbished instruments with a value of approximately $10 million have been donated to 1,025 school and community music programs across the country. More information can be found at www.mhopus.org.

“Mr. Holland’s Opus,” released in 1995, tells the story of a composer who takes a job teaching music at a high school while he tries to achieve his goal of composing one memorable piece of music in order to leave his mark on the world. As the years pass, the joy of sharing his contagious passion for music with his students becomes his new definition of success.

On his last day of school, he is surprised when he gets to conduct students from the past in playing his long-talked of Opus.

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