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Monday, August 05, 2013 - August News

We welcome two new full-time faculty members this month. The music program is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Heisler as our new assistant professor of music, saxophone and conducting. Dr. Heisler holds degrees from Bowling Green State University (D.M.A. and M.M.) and Central Michigan University (B.M.E.). Among his many significant accomplishments is a 1st prize gold medal at the 2005 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Outstanding Classical Soloist in Downbeat Magazine's Music Awards. An advocate of contemporary music, Dr. Heisler has worked with several Pulitzer-Prize winning composers such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Steve Reich on transcriptions of their works for the saxophone. Prior to his appointment at Oakland University, Heisler served on the faculties of Kent State University and Wayne State University. Read Dr. Heisler’s full biography here.

The dance program is equally delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Kattner as our new assistant professor of dance. Dr. Kattner will teach Dance in American Culture, Issues and Trends in Dance, Dance History and Appreciation, Opportunities and Careers in Dance and Contemporary Dance History. Dr. Kattner earned her B.A. in Anthropology and her M.M. in Dance from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and completed her Ph.D. in Theatre Studies at the Free University Berlin. Her doctoral research was published in the book, Early Life and Works of George Balanchine (2013). She has given numerous presentations and workshops at the annual conferences of the Society of Dance History Scholars and the American College Dance Festival Association, and has published in Ballet Review and The Scholarship of Teaching. Read Dr. Kattner’s full biography here.

Two of our current dance faculty were in Costa Rica this summer. Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz taught master classes at the University of Costa Rica where they worked with Danza Universitaria. Thayer wrote, “It was an amazing experience – so good that we were talking about going back in the future to create a new work on their dancers and teach more classes.” You can read more about our dance faculty in Costa Rica in this OU news article.  Following their day of teaching, Ali and Thayer performed at the Teatro Nacional in the capital of San José. Thayer reported that the theatre was gorgeous inside and out but that the raked stage “took a good rehearsal to adapt to.” The theatre was packed for their performance; in fact, people were turned away. The performance was scheduled for noon so that people working nearby could attend during their lunch break.

If you are on campus, or have time to visit Varner during the day, don’t forget to join us for our Arts-At-Noon Recitals. These Tuesday recitals are free and open to the public. Write to sign up for email notification of recital dates and programs.

Our dance faculty will play a prominent role in a major partnership that was announced last spring and will see its first full flourishing with the beginning of the new academic year. Oxford Community Schools and Oakland University are partners in the new Oxford Arts Conservatory (OAC). This fall, classes will be offered in the areas of vocal and instrumental music and dance. In the 2014-15 academic year, the OAC will add classes in visual art and theatre. The OAC will ultimately offer all the visual, fine and performing arts, with Oakland University’s arts programs and faculty supporting the partnership in a variety of ways, including the development of the curriculum. Conservatory students will have opportunities to dual enroll in OU arts courses, and OU arts faculty will teach some of the OAC courses.

The partnership is designed for high school students seeking an opportunity to specialize in arts education at a college-prep level. Prospective OAC dance students began auditioning in March. OAC music students will study music theory, music history, aural skills, and keyboard harmony in addition to performing in Oxford High School’s bands, orchestras and choirs. OU’s Music Preparatory Division will offer Oxford students opportunities for on-site private study in an instrument or voice. Oxford Community Schools accepts students from outside their district and anyone interested in the conservatory will find more information on the Oxford Community Schools’ website.

Our performance season will start soon but you don’t have to wait for our official first concert. Once again the OU Jazz Band has been invited to perform at the Detroit Jazz Festival. The students will perform alongside some of OU’s finest jazz faculty, under the direction of Assistant Professor Miles Brown. They will appear on the Mack Avenue Waterfront Stage, Sunday, September 1 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Get more details about OUJB’s appearance and the rest of the lineup on the DJF website.

Some of our alumni have been performing over the summer. Matt Siadak (B.A. '97) brought friends old and new together to perform Bathroom Privileges and Rules for Love, plays he had written as a student and recently reworked. Back on stage, right here in Varner, were alums Brian Dambacher, (B.A. '97) Dawn Borlinghaus, (B.A. '01) Ann O’Brien (B.A. '03) and Ricky Barnes.

Just down the road, performing at Rochester College, alum Rob Arbaugh (BA. '05) was both director and actor for UnCovered Theatre Company’s fast-paced and non-traditional production of Macbeth. The company is a collaborative team of artists working in both Detroit and Chicago. Alum Allison Hunt (B.A. '07) was also in the cast. Read more about the company on their website.

A very recent alum, Dave Roy, (B.F.A. ‘13) will probably be performing in the area very soon. He just announced on his Facebook page that he has accepted a position as the male acting intern for Meadow Brook Theatre's 2013-14 season.

Meanwhile, back in Varner we have been doing some summer housekeeping. The computer lab in room 237 is now fully equipped with 2013 computers and over the vacation the well-used furniture has all been replaced with new desks and chairs.

Varner Recital Hall’s sound and light booth received an “extreme makeover” this summer. Student workers Dave Mety and Tiffany Palmer decided it was finally time to move an older giant audio rack that dominated the center of the booth and blocked the sight lines between the audio and lighting boards. They sidelined it and created a working space that allows for better communication between the people in the booth and also a better view of what’s happening on stage. They also did a great deal of rewiring and soldering, and what wasn’t rewired was checked. After more than 100 hours of students labor, under the direction of staff audio expert Terry Herald, who says he acted as a “technical consultant,” making sure the connections were designed correctly, Tiffany and Dave believe the tech booth will run much more smoothly now. They expect greater reliability and a serious reduction in set-up time, perhaps as much as one hour for each production, because of the update. Terry says, “They did a more than wonderful job.”

And while we are on the subject of great work done by student workers, there are still opportunities available for student employment in our program area. Workers may still be needed in the office, the lab, for facilities and for house management. If you are interested, you should check the student employment site, which is on the Student Financial Services website.

Finally, for those of you have been around quite a while, we want to let you know that Virginia Ganesky visited us this month. Virginia, who retired in 1997, used to be (among other things) the academic class scheduler. Manjit Gill and Muriel Mader both worked with her for three years and pronounced her unchanged in demeanor and appearance. Virginia still lives in Rochester. She is very well and happy. If you remember her, she sends you her best wishes!

Photos: Upper right: Dr. Jeffrey Heisler
Middle left: Dr. Elizabeth Kattner
Middle right: Professors Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz with
Danza Universitaria
Lower left: Tiffany Palmer and Dave Mety in the audio and lighting booth
Lower right: (l to r) Muriel Mader, Virginia Ganesky and Manjit Gill