Music, Theatre and Dance News May 2017

Music, Theatre and Dance News May 2017

Kayvon smiling in a tuxedo

Kayvon Kashani-Gharavi

Kayvon Kashani-Gharavi (BM ‘17 in Vocal Performance) has been accepted into the graduate conducting program at Westminster Choir College with a two-year assistantship. The College is a division of the Westminster College of the Arts in Princeton NJ, one of the world's leading schools of music, and is perhaps the most prestigious school for choral studies in the country. It prepares students for careers as performers and as music leaders in educational, professional and community organizations. Its choirs perform with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. “It still feels like I'm dreaming,” Kashani-Gharavi wrote on social media after hearing he’d been accepted.

Zollie Schut (BM ‘17 in Instrumental Performance) will begin a Masters of Music in Jazz Studies at Indiana University this fall. He received a substantial scholarship. In addition to studying with world-renowned drummer Steve Houghton, Schut will mentor young students and play in the Indiana University ensembles. OU jazz program coordinator Miles Brown said Zollie “has shown much dedication and growth” and OU percussion program coordinator Mark Stone commended him for his “stellar work in the percussion and jazz areas.”

Congratulations to saxophonist Andrew Hemphill who won the second place prize in the Birmingham Musicale Betty Hixon Woodwind Competition. Hemphill has just completed his freshman year as a music education and saxophone performance major.

Andrew Hemphill

We told you in our last issue about a whole host of musical theatre students with professional summer gigs, and now we are able to add two more to the list. Will Dunn will spend his summer as an apprentice at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI and Sydney Thurman will join Hope Repertory Theatre in Holland, MI. Tech and design student Kyle Goetzinger will also join the apprentice program at Hope this summer.

Students and faculty in the theatre program have come together to create a new organization, Through the Kaleidoscope (Diversity Organization the Department of Theatre), which seeks to create a space for dialogue about diversity in the theatre arts. Associate Professor Lynnae Lehfeldt is the faculty advisor. Musical Theatre major Tony Sharpe is the founder of Through the Kaleidoscope. “I decided to create the group because I realized there was a need to educate people on issues surrounding diversity and introduce them to vocabulary they may not be familiar with.” said Tony. “I’ve seen many examples of a lack of knowledge on how to address, ask questions, or even see issues regarding race, so Lynnae and I began talking about an organization that could become a resource for diverse education through performance art.”

Alex Benoit, an Acting major and member of Through the Kaleidoscope, spoke about his goals for the group. “I hope we might be able to provide a new opportunity for students of diverse communities. We need to show we are a welcoming environment. And I think it’s important for the majority to engage in dialog. As a straight white male with a rather privileged upbringing, I recognize that I’ll never fully understand the things my peers of a different race, religion, gender or sexuality go through. However, by seeking knowledge and understanding I've become enlightened. It’s something I’m aggressively passionate about and it’s influenced my perspective about the right way to treat other people.”

group of students
Members of Kaleidoscope at the Hilberry Theatre

On April 26, 2017 the group took a field trip to see By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at the Hilberry Theatre, where they got the chance to visit with actor Brandon A. Wright for a talk-back.  

Composer and OU technical coordinator Terry Herald recently made his rock debut. Detroit-based rock band Citizen Zero, who have appeared on the Billboard Mainstream rock chart, invited Herald to conduct the strings section at a video shoot in a warehouse in Livonia. The final mix was completed in LA. The band has released two songs from the shoot, “Love Let It” and “Bangin in the Nails”.  Herald can be seen in both videos.


The University honored more than 30 faculty members for their achievements and dedication at the 22nd Annual Faculty Recognition Luncheon on Wednesday, April 19. Among them was Assistant Professor of Music Tian Tian, who was honored in the category of research. Dr Tian said her award was given to her to recognize her performance of Brahms’ Piano Quintet with the Juilliard Quartet last fall.


In April music faculty member Miles Brown played at two different locations in Ohio with the 20-member ensemble Alarm Will Sound, which is committed to innovative performances of today’s music. They played John Luther Adams’ Ten Thousand Birds at the Toledo Museum of Art and at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Ten Thousand Birds is based on the songs of birds that are native to, or migrate through, the area in which the piece is performed.


On April 3, Associate Professor Mark Stone appeared on the Fox 2 morning program along with Ray Holman, who was the guest performer at the world music program’s winter concert. Their interview and performance was seen by almost 85,000 people.


Voice faculty members Drake and Alta Dantzler appeared on television in Toledo recently, talking about the "Opera Boot Camp" they’re running this summer in collaboration with the Toledo Opera and the Toledo School for the Arts, which is a very prominent and successful arts magnet school. You can see the interview here.  


Assistant Professor of Dance Ali Woerner has made two recent appearances on radio talking about the Dance for Parkinson classes she runs. She spoke about the benefits of the class on both WWJ and CBS local radio. 


Associate Professor of Theatre Lynnae Lehfeldt was also interviewed on WWJ Newsradio 950. She spoke about how theatre class training can benefit anyone in any career field. "Sometimes we get in our own way,” she said. “And we need to get out of our way so that we can be our true, authentic self." Listen here. 

Lehfeldt is the chair of the inaugural Great Lakes Gender Parity in Theatre Conference which will be held on the OU campus on August 19. Look for more information in the July Prism, but if you want to be sure you meet the deadline for Early Bird registration, which is June 15, you can follow this link.