School of Music, Theatre and Dance

SMTD from Home

May 2020

icon of a calendarMay 21, 2020

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SMTD from Home
Amy Tully
Amy Hardison Tully, director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance

Our last newsletter was published on March 3, 2020, and since then events related to COVID-19 completely interrupted our lives here on the OU campus. Michigan issued a “stay at home” order, which moved our classrooms online and our theatres dark. Our creativity, however, could not be stopped. SMTD faculty continued to teach, albeit across a new virtual medium, and our students rose to the challenge while expanding the limits of their artistry. Perhaps you have seen our virtual online choral performances, virtual Cabaret series, and our site-specific choreography classes on social media, all revealing our innovative solutions to a shelter in place.

As you read further, I think you’ll be impressed at what our students and faculty have been doing over the last few months — research and practice certainly don’t cease during a shut down. In fact, this summer we will offer two virtual summer experiences for high school students: Summer Jazz Intensive featuring violinist Regina Carter and flutist Nancy Stagnitta from July 20-24 and the OU Summer Theatre Workshop...Online! featuring Broadway sensation Laura Michelle Kelly, who starred in the London production of Disney’s Mary Poppins, from July 13-17.

Don’t get me wrong, we miss you, our cherished arts community, and we can’t wait to be back on stage in our familiar spaces doing what we love. But if anything, our resilience over the last few months has taught us that any space can be a creative space. See you soon…

Amy Hardison Tully, D.M.A.
Director, School of Music, Theatre and Dance


When OU moved all face-to-face classes online due to COVID-19, we decided to feature the resourcefulness of our faculty and students in quarantine. Here are some of the highlights from the past 10 weeks:

Oakland Strong

• The Oakland Chorale’s "We Are Oakland Strong" video — a new piece of music, composed and recorded in one week by The Oakland Chorale (Michael A. Mitchell, director) and arranged and produced by Terry Herald — was featured on FOX 2 Detroit on March 30. The video features music by Caleb Wayman; lyrics by Lily Belle Czartorski, Jarell Cunningham and Parish Roberts; solos by Gillian Tackett, Kellan Dunlap, Kevin Cornwell II, Cassidie Singelyn, and Lily Belle Czartorski; Caleb Wayman, piano; and Terry Herald, instruments.


• The cast of Cabaret, scheduled for March 26 - April 5, united virtually in an uplifting performance of “Willkommen.” Bienvenue! Welcome! the Cabaret, featuring: Doran Berger, Emcee; Mariah Colby, Sally Bowles; Stanley Misevich, Cliff Bradshaw; Carleigh Ray, Fraulein Schneider; Alec Diem, Herr Schultz; Sam Torres, Texas; Madeline Daunt, Frenchie; Grace Turner, Helga; Sarah Grace Odom, Fritzie; Juju Palmer, Lulu; Meghan Andrzejewski, Chloe Matta, Madison Wiley and Aurora Batton, Kit Kat Gal;Mekhi Holloway, Herman; Sam Sommer, Bobby; Trevor J. Powell, Hans. Piano arrangement and music direction by Frank Pitts. Video and Sound editor by Antonio Vettraino. Beth Guest, director of Cabaret.

Even though the Nightclub Cabaret Acts (scheduled for April at the Hemmingway Room in Rochester) were canceled, musical theatre students continued working on this project in order to share them with our audiences remotely. Enjoy the performances:

Josh Young, instructor | Frank Pitts, piano
While the performances are free, you have the option to donate the equivalent of a ticket price of $10 (or a greater amount of your choosing) to the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund. This fund will immediately support students who are dealing with financial emergencies and who are unable to meet essential expenses due to a temporary or unexpected hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Give now at

• The Golden Grizzlies Jazz Singers — with director Scott Gwinnell — performed "Moonglow,” featuring Angela Tocco, Angela Bonello, Madeleine Krick, Carrington Vaughn, Kaity Wiegand, Nina Gojcaj, Kayvon Kashani-Gharavi, Byron King II, Wes Hutchison, Noah Canales and Bryan Clinthorne.

Virtual Steel Band, featuring Ben Kirby (Tenor Pan); Lily Belle Czartorski (Double Tenor); Madeline Wilson (Double Seconds); David Smit (Guitars); Patrick Fitzgibbon (Brass Pans); and Jack Brodeur (Drums), performed a piece called "Rainmaker" — written by Fitzgibbon — that the class worked on earlier in the semester. Once classes went online, each student brought home a pan to continue practicing. In order to record the video, each student had to record themselves playing their part while listening to a reference track. Once each student's video was completed, Fitzgibbon edited them together. "It is a real challenge recording this way and I was very impressed with all the work these students put in,” he said.

Drs. Jeffrey Heisler and I-Chen Yeh performed “Remember Me” from Disney’s Coco during Trio Music’s virtual concert series. Dr. Heisler — who created this new arrangement of the song — was on sabbatical in Taiwan during the Winter semester.

Sharon Sparrow, OU music faculty and Detroit Symphony Orchestra flutist, asks, "Who says we can't still play flute duets?" Here she is playing some Telemann with sophomore Claudia Montoya-Hernandez:


• Choreography II class, taught by Elizabeth Riga, created site-specific works, captured on video. You can view "A Year or So" by Rebecca Otmanowski here and "roll” by Laurel Ryan here

For the Modern 4110 final exam, the dancers were tasked to use concepts from the semester and build a small phrase. Once the phrase was built, they had to morph it to incorporate their surroundings. Then, the phrases were put in a certain order so they could “pass the energy” to one another. Instructor Ali Woerner said, “Considering they are all seniors, it made it even more special.” Dancers included Alexa Donnelly, Paulina Donnelly, Amanda Fabry, Ernesto Duran-Gutierrez, Nadia Klug, Torri Johnson, Michael Hankins (missing due to technology issue). Music by Vladimir Kalmsky (piano) and Mike List (percussion).

Josh Young, assistant professor of theatre, performed live during the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's #TSOatHome series. He, along with his wife Emily Padgett, sang a song from the catalog of Rogers & Hammerstein.

Music faculty member Barbara Bland led anAlexander Technique guided "constructive rest" video. Alexander Technique specifically addresses connecting the body and mind to deal with mental and physical stress and to become calm and clear-thinking.

Senior voice performance major Gillian Tackett performed a piece from her senior recital,An die Nacht — "To the night" — by Richard Strauss for #OUatHome. Piano recording provided by Amanda Sabelhaus.

Professor Tian Tian performed Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. posth by Frédéric Chopin.

Junior music major Kyle Paoletti, who is doubling in music performance and music education, practiced J.S. Bach's Invention No. 8 on the marimba.

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