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Monday, January 07, 2013 - January News

This month we welcomed back from sabbatical Associate Professor Mike Mitchell, director of the music program. Recently returned from Europe, we feel sure Mike is refreshed and ready to attack the new semester with even more than his usual gusto.

But, of course, we have said bon voyage to faculty leaving to take a sabbatical. Professor Karen Sheridan is already hard at work as a teacher trainee with the prestigious Shakespeare and Company in the Berkshires, in Lenox, Massachusetts. She is assisting with a month-long intensive that focuses on the Shakespearean text. You can read more about Shakespeare and Company here.  After she has completed this program, Karen plans to spend some time in Doha, Qatar, observing the programs offered by the Northwestern University campus located there. Read more about NU Qatar here.

Also on sabbatical this semester is Professor John-Paul White, who in January will attend the 2013 Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities. Alright, as the snow falls, we admit to a little jealousy about this one. John-Paul’s topic will be "A Systematic Approach to Vocal Warm-up" and he will address warming-up not only for singing, but for speaking also. To read more about the conference and the other conference topics visit here.  Once he has returned to the realities of the Michigan winter, John-Paul plans to draw on his wealth of experience and write a book that could be used by our Vocal Techniques classes. He says, “The book we currently use is out of print and we have it printed up as a course pack. Since I haven't been able to find one that I'm satisfied with to replace it, I thought, 'I'll just write it myself.'" The perfect solution!

Before he left for his sabbatical Professor White forwarded us some news of one of our most distinguished alumni, Jane Houdyshell. She is currently appearing in the play Dead Accounts in New York, and in its review of the play The Wall Street Journal said of her, “As for Ms. Houdyshell, Broadway has no finer character actor.” Read the review for yourself here.  And if you have plans to be in New York before February 24, you might want to make sure you get tickets to see Dead Accounts.

It is always a pleasure to hear from and catch up with old friends and colleagues, and recently Department Chair Jackie Wiggins heard from an alumnus inquiring about a former faculty member. Some of you may remember Marty (Martin) Liebman, who graduated from Oakland in 1976 with degrees in music and linguistics. Marty was looking for news about his theory and composition teacher Clifford Pfeil, who he believed had left the university almost as long ago as he had.  As it turns out, Cliff Pfeil was unknown to Jackie, but with problems of this nature we do have someone we can turn to -- Professor Emeritus David Daniels. David not only remembered Mr. Pfeil, he had been his great friend. He wrote, “I was totally despondent when he left OU. We kept up for many years.” Unfortunately, David didn’t have current contact information for Cliff but he was able to share a fond memory. “He made a baton for me from a piece of privet hedge and a used wine cork; he said it was for conducting the Pastoral Symphony.”

If you have news of Cliff Pfeil, or any other old OU friends, please send it along to us. And don't forget to send us your news!

Photos: Upper, Karen Sheridan and lower, John-Paul White.