Menu Menu

News Archive

Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - October News

Here is our monthly roundup of news about the activities of our students, faculty and alumni. Alumnus Alex Ruthmann will be on campus from October 11 until October 13 to give a lecture and conduct a workshop on new media musicianship. Alex graduated from OU with a M.M. and a Ph.D. and is currently Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Massachusetts - Lowell, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at the intersection of music education, arts computing and research. Complete details of the programs he will offer during his visit to OU are available on the CARMU site here. Seating is limited for the Saturday workshop and those wishing to attend are advised to register in advance by emailing

Thomas Mahard, special lecturer in theatre, who teaches a very popular acting class for non-majors, worked on a movie with Benicio Del Toro this past summer. Tom had a small part in AKA Jimmy Pickard, and had a scene and a line with Mr. Del Toro. The movie is based on the real life case of a Native American soldier who suffered from psychosomatic illnesses. Read more here. You can also read more about the film qualifying for the new Michigan film incentive program here.

Tom started eight days of filming on a second project, Beyond the Mask, on September 28. This movie, an historic action adventure set in the mid-1770s, is a lower budget project, but it is attracting high-profile talent. The script is by Peabody Award winner Paul McCusker, and Welsh actor John Rhys Davies of Lord of the Rings fame is signed up to play the villain. Mr. Rhys-Davies is a SAG award winner and an Emmy nominee. Since, in the movie, Tom is also working for the forces of evil, he is looking forward to working with Mr. Rhys-Davies in several scenes. The Beyond the Mask website lists the actors like this: “This fall, Rhys-Davies will play Charles Kemp, a powerful entrepreneur in the British East India Company. Kemp is at once a respected businessman and feared criminal. Rhys-Davies joins a cast of over 30 respected actors, including Ade M’Cormack of Lost and Thomas Mahard of Gran Torino.” Read more here.

On October 17, Professor Emeritus and former director of OU’s piano program Flavio Varani will receive a high honor from the French government. He will be made a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters at the Institut de France in Paris. The medal will be presented by Conductor Maitre Laurent Petitgirard, Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. While in France, Professor Varani will give recitals in Normandy and the south of France. The award has been made in recognition of Professor Varani’s significant contribution to furthering the arts in France and the world.

Dual Musical Theatre/Biology major Ashley Ault is at the beginning of her career, but recently she participated in the Hoosier STAR 2012 Vocal Competition in La Porte Indiana, along with more than 100 other vocalists. Ashley was the youngest of six adult finalists and finished third in the competition. Ashley says, "I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given to perform with some great musicians." See more about the competition here.

We also have news items from our dance program. The dance faculty was delighted to hear that recent graduate Meghan Sullivan, who was a B.A. dual major, dance and Spanish, and the winner of the 2012 Outstanding Student in Dance Award, had her undergraduate research paper published. You can read the paper here.

And the whole dance program is delighted that New York dancer and choreographer Alexandra Beller will arrive on October 26 to begin her residency at OU. Her first master classes will be at the Michigan Arts Council Dance Day, which we are hosting on October 27. Most of her time will be spent creating a new work for the OU Repertory Dance Company, which will be performed on November 29 and 30, and again on December 1, at the annual dance showcase. See performance information here. Ms. Beller used to dance with the Bill T. Jones Dance Company and Associate Professor Ali Woerner says, “Alexandra likes out-of-the-box work,” so our dance students can expect to be challenged. Assistant Professor Thayer Jonutz says, “Ms. Beller will also be teaching a technique master class every day she is here, to expose her philosophy to all of our majors.” To read more about Alexander Beller visit her website.

Finally, we want to alert you to an upcoming celebration. Our vibrant and constantly growing Music Preparatory Division will complete 10 years of bringing music lessons to the community this year. Music Prep prepares serious young music students for their future college careers; introduces young children to music; offers piano, guitar and voice lessons to students of all ages; and provides studio instruction on all orchestral instruments to school-age students and adults. On Sunday, December 16, we will hold a 10-Year Anniversary Celebration Recital showcasing students of all ages. The concert will begin at 4 p.m. and a reception will follow on the Varner mezzanine. Everyone is invited. Please mark your calendars now!

Photos: Top: Alex Ruthmann.

Center: Professor Emeritus Flavio Varania.

Bottom: Alexandra Beller. Photo courtesy of Rachel Roberts.