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Friday, March 30, 2012 - April News


We have so many congratulations to hand out this month and so little space.

Announced just in time to make it into this month’s newsletter were the newly appointed Travis Professorships. These awards are supported by an endowment from Doris Eaton Travis and Paul Travis. They recognize outstanding accomplishments in teaching, research and/or professional service in the arts. Doris Travis had a distinguished career as a performer and business owner and was a longtime supporter of the arts. This year’s recipients are Associate Professor of Music Kenneth Kroesche and Associate Professor of Theatre Fred Love. Professor Susan Wood of Art and Art History was also named a Travis Professor.

Of the two new theatre and music honorees Department Chair Jackie Wiggins writes, “Professor Love specializes in musical theatre and is head of that program. He came to OU from an extensive performing career that he continues, as he is able, today. He has played a wide range of characters, including performing on Broadway, throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Most recently, he performed the role of Baron Zsupan in Countess Maritza with Toronto Operetta Theatre. In summer 2008, he taught voice in Venice for a program called Music Theatre Italy. Also in 2008, he received a best actor Wilde Award nomination for his work as Cosmé McMoon in Stephen Temperley’s Souvenir at Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor and later at Boarshead Theatre in Lansing, Michigan. He has also sung with the opera companies of Houston Grand, Orlando, Anchorage, Santa Fe, Memphis, Opera Pacific, Chautauqua, Toronto Opera Theatre, and Michigan Opera Theatre. He is a past winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and was a finalist in the Belvedere International Opera Competition, Vienna, Austria. At Oakland, Professor Love has musical directed and/or stage directed 38 shows during his seven years on the faculty and was nominated for the OU Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009 and 2011.

“Professor Kroesche specializes in low brass instruments: trombone, euphonium and tuba. Widely known as a performer, conductor and teacher, he has a long list of ensemble performances to his credit. Dr. Kroesche has appeared as a euphonium soloist with a number of notable ensembles, including a guest appearance as a concerto soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., under music director, Mstislav Rostropovich. He serves as the principal trombonist of the Oakland and the Rochester Symphony Orchestras and each summer he is euphoniumist with the Toledo Concert Band. In addition, he frequently performs with the Detroit Symphony, Toledo Symphony and Detroit Chamber Winds. From 2008-2011, he served as Music Director and Conductor of the Capital City Brass Band of Lansing, Michigan. In 2009, he created the Oakland University Brass Band, which is one of only five collegiate brass bands in the United States. In summer 2011, he organized and led Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s first Adult Brass Band Session, which is now held each summer. He currently serves on the board of directors for the North American Brass Band Association. At Oakland, Professor Kroesche heads the brass program and also is founder and music director of the renowned Golden Grizzlies Athletic Band.”

We were also delighted to hear that some of our faculty and alumni have been recognized in the wider community, with the department being well represented among the 2012 Detroit Music Awards nominees. Scott Gwinnell, who teaches jazz piano, is nominated as Outstanding Classical Composer, Outstanding Jazz Composer, Outstanding Jazz Instrumentalist, and the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra is nominated as Outstanding Traditional Jazz Artist/Group.

Other alums nominated include Trish Shandor, (B.A. 2004), as Outstanding Jazz Vocalist; Lisa Agazzi, (B.M. 1995 and MM 2000), who also teaches in our Music Prep Program, and Abha Dearing (M.M. 2006), both as Outstanding Classical Vocalist. The Dearing Concert Duo, with Abha partnered with her husband Steven, is also nominated for Outstanding Classical Small Ensemble.

And three more of our faculty are also nominated. Nadine Deleury, who teaches lessons in cello, is nominated as Outstanding Classical Instrumentalist; Carl Cafagna, who teaches vocal jazz, is nominated as Outstanding Jazz Instrumentalist. And Greg Cunningham, music professor, is nominated twice in the Outstanding Community Orchestra category, for both the Warren Symphony and the Oakland Symphony. Read more information about the awards and a complete list of nominations here.

We also offer our congratulations to long-time music faculty member Dr. Phyllis White, who in March successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation. Phyllis has the distinction of being the first person to earn three degrees in music at OU: a B.M. in Music Theory, a M.M. in Music Education, and now a Ph.D. in Music Education. Her research was based on the analysis of data gathered from two online courses she created for general education students – “What’s on your playlist? Aesthetic Experiences in Music” and “Song and Songwriting.” Phyllis uses the term thinking-in-music-with-music to describe the act of musical decision-making as demonstrated in the students’ creation and editing of musical clips and songs within these online courses. In addition to acquiring musical understanding, her findings indicate that music was seen in student experience as a transformational agent in otherness, self, agency and healing. She writes: “Learning about relationships in music can serve as a vehicle towards enhanced understanding of ourselves and others.”

And we are not done yet with the congratulations. We commend Mike Medvinsky (B.M. 2005) who has been named Brandon Schools Teacher of the Year. This is quite a rare honor for a music teacher and is perhaps all the more impressive and significant in this economic and political climate. The honor means Mike is under consideration for Michigan Teacher of the Year and, should he achieve that, US Teacher of the Year. Not only is Mike an effective classroom teacher, he is also active academically and has already presented several times at conferences and has been published. He also teaches summer courses at OU.

And turning to Dance, we are delighted to report that Lindsay Chirio, Vivian Costello, Sara Daudlin, Andrew Dettloff, Francesca Garippa, Jessica Hublick, AJ Sharp and Taylor Thompson performed wonderfully at the American College Dance Festival Association, East-Central Regional Dance Conference last month. Out of over 60 dances adjudicated at the conference, University's Repertory Dance Company performance of "Transparent Walls," choreographed by New York guest choreographer Dusan Tynek, was one of only 12 dances chosen to perform in the prestigious Saturday evening Gala Concert. Fellow performers and adjudicators commented on “the flawless and breathing-taking performance” of our OU dancers. The faculty members were extremely proud of them, said Greg Patterson, head of the dance program.

Our final congratulations of the month go to Bibianne Yu (M.M. 2001), director of OU’s Music Preparatory Program, who has received an AP recognition award from the university. These awards honor the exemplary service and exceptional contributions made by individual AP employees. “She has single-handedly built the Music Prep Division from a handful of students to the reputable, successful program it is today,” wrote Jackie Wiggins, chair of the department, when she nominated Bibianne for the award.

So much to celebrate, so many achievements.

Photo: New Travis professors Ken Kroesche (left) and Fred Love. Photo by Gillian Ellis