Alumni Hall of Fame

Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees

The OAI Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes alumni for their professional achievements and artistic vision. These honorees exemplify OAI’s mission to give flight to budding talent across Oklahoma and serve to inspire future generations of talented youth. 

Yolanda Kondonassis HARPIST

OSAI discipline: Orchestra

Dates of attendance: 1977
Year inducted: 2016

YOLANDA KONDONASSIS is one of the world’s premier solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. Hailed as “a brilliant and expressive player” (Dallas Morning News), she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, appearing with numerous major orchestras such as The New York Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic, to name a few. Also a published author, speaker, professor of harp and environmental activist, she weaves her many passions into a vibrant and multi-faceted career.

With hundreds of thousands of albums sold worldwide, Yolanda’s extensive discography includes nineteen titles and her 2008 release, Air (Telarc), was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her next album, celebrating Ginastera's Centennial, features the Ginastera Harp Concerto and will be released in October 2016 on Oberlin Music. Her many albums have earned universal critical praise as she continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to make her instrument more accessible to audiences and to push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp.

Yolanda has been featured on CNN and PBS as well as Sirius/XM Radio’s Symphony Hall, NPR’s All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Performance Today. In addition to her active solo, chamber music and recording schedule, Yolanda heads the harp departments at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Institute of Music, and presents master classes around the world. Yolanda attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute in its first year.

OAI Alumni Hall of Fame Profile Video


OSAI discipline: Orchestra

Dates of attendance: 1983-1986
Year inducted: 2016

TIMOTHY LONG has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a pianist, conductor, opera coach and educator. His early training as a pianist and violinist led to his work with singers and operatic engagements that include companies such as the Boston Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, The Juilliard School, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Théâtre Municipal de Castres, and summer festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival and School and the Moab Music Festival. After working on Thomas Adès’ operatic tour de force, Powder Her Face, Tim was named assistant conductor at the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He also led the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra.

Off-Broadway, he was music director, conductor and featured pianist for The Music Teacher, an “opera within a play” by Wallace Shawn and Allen Shawn. Bridge Records released a recording of this unique show with Parker Posey and Wallace Shawn in the leading roles. Most recently, he completed a recording of two Dominick Argento song cycles, The Andrée Expedition and From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, with celebrated baritone, Brian Mulligan, to be released this spring. Tim is now a tenured associate professor at SUNY-Stony Brook, artist faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and music director and co-founder of Voices of Hope.

While growing up in Holdenville, Oklahoma, Tim attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute for four consecutive summers, returning this past summer as the orchestra conductor. He studied piano and violin at Oklahoma City University and then piano performance at the Eastman School of Music. Tim is one half Muscogee Creek and one half Choctaw and is from the Wolf clan.

OAI Alumni Hall of Fame Profile Video

Tim Blake Nelson ACTOR & FILMMAKER

OSAI discipline: Creative Writing

Dates of attendance: 1980-1982
Year inducted: 2016

TIM BLAKE NELSON is an actor, writer, director and producer with a distinctive voice in an array of dramatic and comic work on screen and stage. As an actor he has appeared in well over sixty feature films, including Lincoln, The Incredible Hulk, Meet the Fockers, The Good Girl, Minority Report, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and the Emmy-winning HBO movie Warm Springs, along with an array of independent films. He has also appeared off-Broadway in The Beard of Avon, Mad Forest, An Imaginary Life, Oedipus and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In 1997, Tim wrote and directed the film, Eye of God, which appeared in competition at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, and won the Tokyo Bronze Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Since then, he has written and directed The Grey Zone and Leaves of Grass. Most recently, he wrote, directed and produced the IFC-released Anesthesia, a drama based in New York City. He also directed O, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, for which he won the award for Best Director at the 2001 Seattle Film Festival. Nelson’s newest play Socrates was workshopped at New York Stage and Film in the summer of 2016. He will appear in six films within the next year, including Colossal and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk.

Tim was born and raised in Tulsa and attended the Summer Arts Institute for three years in creative writing. He is a graduate of Brown University and the recipient of the John Rowe Workman Award for Excellence in Classical Studies. After Brown he attended the Julliard Theater Center’s four-year actor training program. He resides in New York City with his wife and three sons.   

OAI Alumni Hall of Fame Profile Video


OSAI discipline: Photography

Dates of attendance: 1997-1998
Year inducted: 2018

PAUL TAGGART is a photojournalist, producer, and cinematographer. As a photographer, his assignments have taken him to Congo, Pakistan, Rwanda, Antarctica, and Iraq. Paul was one of the few unembedded western journalists to cover the month-long battle and siege of Najaf, Iraq in 2004 between the Mahdi Militia and the coalition forces.

Other prominent news stories Paul has covered have been Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan in 2007 and the dual bombing of her convoy after leaving the airport, the Tsunami in Banda Aceh, the 2005 famine in Niger, the 2005 elections in Liberia, the 2006 war in Lebanon, and the 3-month-long siege of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon in the summer of 2007. Paul lived in Beirut, Lebanon for three years while covering the Middle East and Africa for international news agencies and magazines.

His work has appeared in Newsweek, TIME, US News and World Report, and The New York Times. Paul has produced television shows for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, and PBS. Paul splits his time between Alaska where he works for Discovery Channel and rural Pennsylvania where he lives with his wife and three children.

OAI Alumni Hall of Fame Profile Video


OSAI discipline: Photography

Dates of attendance: 1979
Year inducted: 2016

TROY WORD is a fashion/celebrity photographer and filmmaker based in New York. His editorial work has appeared throughout the world in publications including Marie Claire, InStyle, Oprah, Lucky, Glamour, Red (London), Arena, People and Elle. His commercial clients include L'Oreal, Lancôme, Neutrogena, Macy's, Liz Claiborne and Avon.

He has photographed numerous celebrities and world leaders, including President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan, Princess Haya of Dubai, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Monica Bellucci, Dolly Parton, Teri Hatcher, Tyra Banks, Eva Longoria, Isabella Rossellini, Liv Tyler, Andie MacDowell, Kirstie Alley, John Stewart, Susan Sarandon, Iman, and Heidi Klum.

Troy recently completed production on The Presence of Joseph Chaikin, an award-winning feature documentary about the life and work of the revolutionary experimental theater director.

Troy is a native of Bartlesville and attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute as a student and counselor. While at Quartz Mountain, he met legendary American fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon, inciting a passion that has led to Troy’s successful career. He has served as faculty in film & video and photography at the Summer and Fall Arts Institutes. Troy now divides his time between New York City and rural Massachusetts.

OAI Alumni Hall of Fame Profile Video