School of Music, Theatre and Dance

Music, Theatre and Dance News

December 2018

icon of a calendarDecember 17, 2018

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Music, Theatre and Dance News: December 2018
Drake Dantzler and Victoria Shively
Music faculty members Drake Dantzler and Victoria Shively.

During the week of October 15, music faculty members Drake Dantzler and Victoria Shively visited Tulane University and the University of Texas to give recitals of 21st century art songs. Professor Dantzler also gave masterclasses for the voice students.

Whether you are an alum, an audience member, a student or a friend, you are a member of the ‘MTD Family,’ and we are seeking your assistance in supporting the education of the newest generation of our students, as well as generations to come. To this end, we have organized the Friends of MTD, which will provide scholarships and program support for SMTD students. There are a variety of MTD funds to which you may contribute. Every gift, no matter the size, has the potential to make a tremendous difference in the educational experience of our students. Visit

Cat Menzies, OU vocal coach and accompanist, is currently singing and playing piano in John Denver - A Musical Tribute starring Ted Vigil. The last few months have taken her to Lake Chataqua, Ohio; Oshkosh, Wis.; and Jim Thorpe, Pa. On October 20, they performed locally at the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performance Center in Taylor, Mich.

OUSMTD was well represented on October 24 at the Rochester High School Collage Concert. George Stoffan, associate professor of music, performed Concertino for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble by Carl Maria von Weber and Anthony Guest, associate professor of theatre, did announcing duties for the Falcon Marching Band.

Guitarist Paul Galbraith and cellist Antonio Meneses visited Oakland University on October 28 as part of their inaugural American tour. They performed Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata and music by Brazilian composers Radames Gnattali and Andre Mehmari. The performance was part of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit’s Regional Partner Series at Oakland University.

Melissa Hoag, an associate professor of music theory at OU, presented on the pedagogy interest group session at the national Society for Music Theory conference in November. She also has an article forthcoming in BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. The article, which will be part of a special music theory roundtable issue, advocates for the relevance of 18th-century counterpoint in the 21st century. Also, in addition continuing her term on the editorial board for Music Theory Online (the Society for Music Theory’s online journal), Hoag has also been appointed to the Society for Music Theory’s innovative videocast journal, SMT-V.

Junior music education major Michael Abel

Junior music education major Michael Abel recently won a position as snare drummer with the  Detroit Pistons Drumline. Abel is also a former member of the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps.

On November 2, a staged reading of the full length play The Moment He Sees Fit, by Martin McArthur, took place in the Varner Lab Theatre. McArthur is a creative writing major at Oakland University and took Kitty Dubin’s Advanced Playwriting course last winter. “The Moment He Sees Fit is one of the most compelling plays to be written by a student in my 22 years of teaching playwriting at OU,” Dubin said. The reading, directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre David Gram, featured current OU theatre students (Brandon Wright, Doran Berger and Emily Fishman) as well as professional actors (Kristina Riegle and Michael Brian Ogden.) The play takes place in the 1850's and focuses on the journey of Benny, a devoted house slave, who struggles between his loyalty to his master and his intense desire for freedom.

Grand Rapids Ballet

Dance Professor Elizabeth Kattner presented Envisioning Marche Funébre: A Study in the Early Choreography of George Balanchine on Saturday, Nov. 3 in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms. The “lost” ballet, by renowned choreographer George Balanchine had not been performed since 1923. It was painstakingly reconstructed over more than a decade by Kattner. “Dr. Kattner’s reconstruction was danced beautifully by members of the Grand Rapids Ballet,” said Joe Shively, interim director of the OU SMTD.

Theatre Chair and Associate Professor of Theatre Anthony Guest appeared in a commercial for LaFontaine Ford. You can view the commercial at

National Association of Teachers of Singing

OU vocal majors competed November 3 in the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing fall student auditions. It was hosted at Eastern Michigan University this year and 140 singers from across the state participated, including Carson Arcuri (3rd place, Freshmen Men), Angela Bonello (1st place, Freshmen Women), Cassidie Singelyn (1st place, Freshmen Women), Caleb Wayman (2nd place, Sophomore Men), Gillian Tackett (1st place, Junior Women), and Andrew Forsythe (2nd place, Senior Men).

Music lecturer and composer Ben Fuhrman performed his piece Shoreline at the Electronic Music Midwest (Oct.11-13) and Electroacoustic Barn Dance (Nov. 8-11) music festivals. Shoreline, which is a study in synthesizing whale and bird song to create a piece of synthetic ecology, was just accepted for the College Music Society regional conference in Wisconsin in April. Fuhrman will also present a new composition, entitled Needle Point, on February 28 and March 2-3. The composition will be paired with Leoš Janáček’s haunting The Diary of One Who Disappeared, which tells the story of a young farmer who is seduced by a Gypsy woman and the ramifications of his family, and his own, disapproval. The performance features OU voice students and faculty members Alta Marie Boover (mezzo-soprano), Drake Dantzler (tenor) and Victoria Shively (piano).

Brant Ford

The Oakland Symphony Orchestra, Oakland University’s orchestra-in-residence, performed November 4 in Varner Recital Hall. The program included Sensemayá by Silvestre Revueltas; Concerto for Alto Saxophone in E-flat major, Op. 109 by Alexander Glazunov, featuring alto saxophonist Brant Ford; Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss, and the world premiere of Aurum Tetra (Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra) by Benjamin Taylor, featuring the Assembly Saxophone Quartet. Ford also won first prize in the 2018 American Single Reed Summit young artist saxophone competition. The competition, which included two live rounds plus a recorded pre-screening round, had its final round adjudicated by a panel of saxophonists headed by French virtuoso, Claude Delangle.

Several OU music students competed in the state Collegiate Brass Solo Competition of the Music Teacher National Association in Kalamazoo. Brandon Thibault was named the winner of the state level and will now advance to the the national finals in Spokane, Wash. in March. Austin DeDalis will be the alternate and John Andersen received honorable mention. Thibault, DeDalis and Andersen study with Dr. Kenneth Kroesche.

Bridging the Gaps

Bridging the Gaps: Guitars for Social Justice, a collaborative and interdisciplinary project that marries music and social justice, returned to OU on November 6. This free event featured compositions by John Anderson, Christopher Burns, Terry Herald, Joo Won Park, Stuart Scott and Bill Withem, as well as spoken word texts by Jenifer DeBellis, Felicia Krol, Peter Markus and Vanessa Stauffer. Bret Hoag, music faculty member, was on WWJ Newsradio 950’s Education Today segment discussing the project. You can listen to the interview here.

On Nov. 8-9, approximately 90 high school students from 40 schools participated in the annual Honor Band, while more than 50 talented high school string players from 17 programs visited the OU campus Nov. 16-18 for Honors Orchestra event. “These outstanding ensembles are a testament to the extraordinary music educators who teach these students in high schools across Michigan,” said Joe Shively, interim director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Christina Tasco, a special lecturer at Oakland University since 2002, presented her master’s research project, The Effects of Quadriceps and Hamstring Strength and Flexibility on Pelvic Tilt Dancers, at the annual American College of Sports Medicine conference on Nov. 9, where it then won the “Most Outstanding Student Master’s Thesis Presentation” award. Tasco received her Bachelor of Health Science as well as her Master of Exercise Science degree from Oakland University. She teaches several technique courses as well as Kinesiology and Dance History in addition to directing Oakland Dance Theater. Throughout her career, Tasco has taught numerous master classes and creative movement residencies across the state and country. She has choreographed for a variety of studios, high schools, Universities and special events including Eisenhower Dance Detroit’s yearly fundraiser, Walled Lake Central’s production of Finnian’s Rainbow and The Hartland Player’s production of West Side Story.

Yung Shing Le Shadow Troupe of Taiwan

The Yung Shing Le Shadow Troupe of Taiwan, a professional family troupe founded by Chang Li in 1896, hosted a Shadow Puppet Master Class on Sunday, Nov. 11 in the Varner Lab Theatre at Oakland University. Several OU students attended the workshop, including members of the cast of the upcoming production of The Battles of Coxinga, which opens in April. The students, who have also attended local performances by the troupe, learned how to make paper puppets, as well as various techniques of shadow puppetry. “We will be working on ways to incorporate shadow puppetry into The Battles of Coxinga, and after the performances and workshop, we have many ideas and tools to workshop,” said Kerro Knox 3, an associate professor of theatre at OU and director of The Battles of Coxinga.

Lauri Hogle, Ph.D., a visiting professor of music education had an article, entitled Going Viral: Contagious Agency Through Learned Helpfulness in a Choral Ensemble published in the fall 2018 issue of the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, one of the major music education research journals. In the article, Hogle shared emergent themes and findings from her study of music learning processes of multiage learners in a choral ensemble. “Sharing ideas from this study about ways in which children and teens helped one another to sing freely, overcoming music performance anxiety, I will be presenting research-into-practice sessions at the Michigan Music Conference in January and at the national conference of the Organization of American Kodály Educators in March,” Hogle said. “In March, I will also be presenting Co-Creation of Intersubjectivity in an Inclusive Choral Ensemble: Curricular Voices of Children at the Enacting Curricular Change in Music Education through Vernacular Music conference, a national music education research conference.”

Lucas Meachem

Oakland University voice students had the wonderful opportunity to work with Grammy-award winning baritone Lucas Meachem for a two-day session at OU. You can watch the Nov. 12 masterclass, featuring five OU music majors, which was broadcast live on his Facebook page.

Theatre special lecturer Beth Guest portrayed the roles of Sara Jane Moore and Emma Goldman in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Tony Award-winning musical Assassins, which ran through Nov. 9-11 and 16-18 at the Flint Repertory Theatre, which is celebrating its inaugural season.

James Isabirye

Oakland University graduate student James Isabirye — a lecturer of music and drama at Kyambogo University in Uganda who has been pursuing his Ph.D. in Music Education at OU — successfully defended his dissertation on November 14. “I’m so proud of James and I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Jackie Wiggins, Ed.D., Isabirye’s mentor and the former director of the SMTD. “He’s brilliant and he can pull together ideas from all these different places on such a sophisticated level. He’s going to change the world. In fact, he already has." Using the seeds of a nearly extinct gourd, Isabirye has been helping the people of Uganda rediscover their musical roots by reintroducing instruments, songs and traditions that were almost lost forever following decades of conflict and political upheaval. His dissertation — titled “Nurturing Identity, Agency and Joy-filled Passion Through Revitalizing Indigenous Music Education Practices: Learning In and From a Cultural Revival Project in Busoga, Uganda” — focused on the process of reviving those musical traditions, the impact the rebirth has had on the country’s youth, and the importance of music education on a society.

Lysistrata Remix, a comedic battle of the sexes

Lysistrata Remix — a comedic battle of the sexes — ran from  Nov. 15 through Dec. 2 in Varner Studio Theatre. The production put a new shell on the Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes. “Sure, it’s a comedy filled with double-entendres designed to make the audience burst out with laughter (and blush quite a bit too), but it’s also a play that isn’t afraid to ask significant questions,” wrote Sarah Hovis, a reviewer with Rochester Media.

The Detroit Mercy Theatre Company opened their production of War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast by Joe Landry on November 30. This radio-play-within-a-radio-play featured professional actors David Gram (OU assistant professor of theatre) and Jenna Kellie Pitman (OU theatre alum), as well as four student performers from the University of Detroit Mercy. The play celebrated the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio adaptation that threw humanity into chaos when aliens made landfall on Earth.

Steven Mead

Internationally acclaimed euphonium virtuoso Steven Mead joined the OU Brass Band for a memorable afternoon of brass music artistry beginning at 3 p.m.  on December 2 in Varner Recital Hall. Widely regarded as one of the most successful euphonium soloists in the world today, Mead performs over 75 concerts per years with some of the leading orchestras, wind bands and brass bands in the world. Prior to the Dec. 2 concert, Mead performed on Fox 2 Detroit (WJBK). You can view the Fox 2 interview here.

Lynnae Lehfeldt

After presenting at the “English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Conference at ITMO University in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2016, Oakland University’s Lynnae Lehfeldt, an associate professor of theatre, was invited to teach a two-week course there from Dec. 6-14 as part of a Master’s Program on International Research. “I taught vocal and physical presence technique,” Lehfeldt said. “They (the researchers) needed to be able to present their findings as effectively as possible.” Lehfeldt also taught vocal and physical presence courses at MGIMO University, Bauman University, American Center and the Slovic-Anglo-American School in Moscow as a specialist with the U.S. State Department. “While presenting at the 2016 conference, Jerrold Frank, from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, saw my work and commented to me that he had never seen such an enthusiastic response to a workshop,” Lehfeldt said. “He suggested I apply to be an English Language Specialist with the U.S. State Department.” The English Language Specialist Program is a U.S. Department of State public diplomacy initiative that sends experts in the field of English language education to lead intensive English language teacher training projects overseas. Specialist assignments range from 10 working days to three months. Projects are designed by U.S. Embassies to address specific local needs. The English Language Specialist Program sends an average of 80 Specialists on approximately 100 projects each year. Specialists have served in more than 80 countries across Africa, the Americas, East Asia and the Pacific, Eurasia, South Asia, and the Middle East.

Lehfeldt also recently served as dialect coach for Eastern Michigan University’s production of James and the Giant Peach. “We so appreciate Lynnae’s expertise and boundless energy,” said Christine Tanner, director. “The production quality was certainly enhanced by her assistance.”

Dance special lecturer Rebecca Crimmins and the cast of Come Dance With Me — an educational dance television show hosted by Crimmins on TheMittTv — performed live on Saturday, December 8 on Fox 2 News to promote the next recording of the show. Come Dance With Me is always looking for dancers of all ages to perform. For more information, contact Crimmins at

Alta Marie Boover, assistant professor of music, was recognized with a grant on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at the Oakland University Women and Philanthropy holiday reception. “I’m one of their first grant recipients,” Boover said. She was awarded the grant in recognition of her project, A Woman’s Life (and Love), which will premier in the fall of 2019. “I’ll be working with L.A. composer Sara Carina Graef on creating a song cycle for mezzo and piano, which is intended to be a compliment piece to Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben,” Boover said. In addition to her project, Oakland University Women and Philanthropy also funded projects for the Student Organic Farm and a partnership which brings Pontiac middle school students to campus to explore potential careers in medicine. For more information, contact Sue Helderop, senior director of engagement, at

The Oakland Area Saxophone Ensemble presented their holiday concert on December 15 at Howarth United Methodist Church at 550 E. Silverbell Road in Lake Orion. The OASE is a 20 piece saxophone ensemble comprised of high schoolers from around the Rochester/Detroit area, who perform a variety of music at various venues throughout the year. Directed by OU student Mackenna Greene, the OASE also features assistant directors and OU students Andrew Picklo, Nick Minauro, Dallas Kelley.

Over two dozen faculty, alumni and student from Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance are in the running for 2018 BroadwayWorld Detroit Awards. BroadwayWorld editors set the categories, and readers submitted their nominees. Voting is open to the general public until December 31 at

TUBACHRISTMAS, co-sponsored by the Motor City Brass Band and Oakland University, took place on Saturday, December 15 in Varner Recital Hall. Conceived in 1974 by Harvey Phillips as a tribute to his teacher and mentor, William J. Bell, TUBACHRISTMAS celebrated its 45th anniversary this year. For more information, visit

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