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Thursday, December 29, 2011 - January News

Some of the news we have for you this month is timely, but some of our other bits and pieces are items that have slipped by unnoticed . . . until now. Our faculty, students, and alumni are busy and accomplished, and they are often too engaged with “the doing” to find time for “the telling.”

Kenneth Kroesche, Associate Professor of Low Brass, is a featured euphonium soloist on Christmas Cards, a holiday CD recently released by the Five Lakes Silver Band where he serves as principal euphonium. Visit the band’s website here.  Ken is also conductor of the Capital City Brass Band, which also recently released a Holiday CD, Christmas Through the Ages. This past April, the group was the Third Section Winner at the 2011 North American Brass Band Championships in Grand Rapids. And the Band was chosen through a national selection process to perform at the Association of Concert Bands National Convention in Muskegon, Michigan last May. Visit the band’s website here.

Tom Suda, Special Instructor in Theatre, collaborated with the OU School of Nursing in securing an $8000 grant to pilot a study to determine whether a caring practice teaching innovation would be effective in improving undergraduate nursing students' caring abilities, professional values, and self-rated quality and safety competencies. Tom produced and coordinated four video presentations featuring MTD acting majors, Abby Alexander, Amanda Carnat, Jackie Bery, Mac Gibson, Jake Wood, and Evan Heuker. Anetria Cole wrote the scripts and Robert Arbaugh directed. Both are graduates of MTD's BFA Acting program. The students also performed a live presentation where the nursing students reacted spontaneously to live situation scenarios. The School of Nursing found the project to be highly successful.

Karen Sheridan, Professor of Theatre, recently directed and produced The Women of Lockerbie. After one of the play’s performances, playwright Deborah Brevoort spoke with the audience and cast, commenting that she believed it to be one of the best of more than 200 professional and student productions she had seen. Ms Brevoort talked about the maturity and quality of the student work, complimenting the actors, director, and student designers. After giving her a long, warm standing ovation, the audience departed and the playwright stayed to talk more with the students and faculty. It was a proud and exciting experience.

The Women of Lockerbie was invited to bring a scene to be included in the Evening of Scenes event at the Region 3 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, which was held at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in early January. Read more about KCACTF Region 3 here.

Our students did extremely well this year at KCACTF. At the time of publication, Elizabeth Fritch and Natalie Sparbeck, Jake Wood and Amanda Ryskamp, and Allie McCaw and Sam Rohloff had all made it to the finals of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, meaning that three of the 16 finalists were from OU.  We are also happy to announce that Ashley Byzskowski has moved into the final round for the Regional Design competition with her scene design treatment for Hamlet and Rachel Buechele has moved into the final round for the Allied Design and Technologies competition with her puppets from Pageant Play. Watch our Facebook page for updates.

Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, MTD’s dance company in residence, received a National Dance Project grant for a national tour of New Dance Fest, a repertory program. EDE's artistic director, Laurie Eisenhower, is in her last year as Professor of Dance at OU, but the company will remain in residence after her retirement. Over the years, many full-time and part-time dance faculty have danced with EDE, and MTD students have enjoyed both dance and administrative internships with the group. Our relationship with EDE continues to be a very important and valued facet of our dance program. Read more on the EDE blog.

Michael Mitchell, Associate Professor of Choral Music, was commissioned by Kent Wattleworth, an OU alum (MM 2002) and the choral director of Chippewa Valley High School, to compose a choral piece to be premiered at the Central Division Conference of the American Choral Directors Association in March in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The piece, titled Gloria, Pax, Alleluia, combines traditional Latin texts with words of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, and Jimi Hendrix.

And we have some alumni news. John Paul White’s former student Joel Frederiksen (MM, 1990) who has an international career, released a new album this past year that has done very well in the US. Rose of Sharon reached the top 10 on the Billboard Classical Charts and was an Amazon Best of Year pick. You can read a New York Times review of Rose of Sharon here. The CD is a varied collection of America’s music from 1770 to 1870 and called it a, “Masterpiece . . . this . . . effort to bring this music to life has a genuine air of sincerity and reverence ̶ and if nothing else, it's certainly enlivening and entertaining. Frederiksen is an amazing musician and a uniquely gifted singer, and for that reason alone you shouldn't miss this.” The CD is available for purchase here at Amazon.

Chris Rozanzki
(BFA, Musical Theatre, 2008) is currently on an international tour of a play based on the children's story Henry and Mudge. It is produced by TheatreworksUSA. Chris’s mentor, Associate Professor of Musical Theatre Fred Love, had the chance to see this delightful musical show at Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, along with 500 Canadian Pre-K to third-grade children. Fred noted, "Mr. Rozanski, playing the 182 pound canine buddy, stole the show." You can read more about the show here.

We also heard from Emeritus Professor of Music, David Daniels, with news of his latest publication, Arias, Ensembles, & Choruses: An Excerpt-Finder for Orchestras. The book is a collaboration with New York City conductor John Yaffè, which came about somewhat serendipitously. “Yaffè appeared on the OU campus in 1979 to conduct the premiere of an opera by Mark Gottlieb (BM, 1986), a composition student of the late Stanley Hollingsworth. Yaffé and I met very briefly at that time, but it was 30 years later that our paths crossed via the internet. He mentioned something about Mark, and I realized that I knew him. He's been a superb partner in preparing this book; he lives not far from Lincoln Center, and the Met Opera gave him full run of their library for his research.” The book is available for purchase on Amazon here.

And finally, our new costume shop supervisor, Michelle Hathaway, has asked us to spread the word that she was teased so much, especially by her family, for wearing an LSU apron in the photo that ran in our last e-newletter that she has made herself a more suitable black and gold apron. Go Grizzlies!

Photo: The cast and crew of The Women of Lockerbie. Photo by Rick Smith.