Winter 2016

Front and Center

(Clockwise) Nicolette Book, CAS ’14; MTD faculty members Thayer Jonutz; Alta Dantzler; Deborah VanderLinde; Jeffrey Heisler; Michael Mitchell and Kerro Knox; Ann Toomey, CAS ’14.


Junior Alexis Clark, a double major in Theatre and Political Science, will further immerse herself in experience during a London Liberal Arts with Internship study abroad program in next few months.

Clark will take two courses: Shakespeare the Dramatist and Britain Today: Issues and Perspectives. In addition to studying the plays, the Shakespeare class will involve Clark seeing them performed at famous London theatres including The Globe, a faithful reproduction of a 16th century playhouse on the banks of the Thames. Her political science class will focus on historical and contemporary issues and will include a trip to Edinburgh.

Clark has an internship with Theatro Technis and expects to experience everything from “playwriting, directing, acting, lighting, sound, set building/painting, props and costumes to publicity and marketing.”


Two graduates of OU’s Vocal Performance program have excelled in the national 2015-2016 Metropolitan Opera auditions.

Ann Toomey, CAS ’14, winner of the Central Region, will appear on the Metropolitan Opera stage on March 6 in the national semi-finals in New York City. Winners perform in a national grand finals concert on March 13 at the Met.

Toomey is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance at the University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music. She was the only soprano admitted to the Chicago Lyric Young Artist Program for next year.

Listen: Tre sonetti di Petrarca: 1. Pace non trovo

Nicolette Book, CAS ’14, received an Encouragement Award from the Mid-South Region auditions. Book, a soprano, is pursuing a Master of Music at the University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music. Book performed the National Anthem at all three OU Commencement ceremonies in December 2012.

Listen: Marietta’s Lied, with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra in 2013, Dr. Gregory Cunningham conducting.


Saxophone professor Jeffrey Heisler presents solo and quartet performances with the Assembly Saxophone Quartet at the North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference on March 10-13 at Texas Tech University. The members of Flex Quartet, as well as studio members Jason Rodriguez, Amber Bourque and Cassie Harms, will also attend so they can immerse themselves in performances and masterclasses. Read more on the conference website.

Distinguished Professor and Department Chair Jackie Wiggins, a member of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit board of directors, collaborated with the society this year to develop interactive packages that the Aelous String Quartet can use to support school visits.

Dr. Wiggins invited New York University music education faculty member Dr. S. Alex Ruthmann to partner with her on the project’s technology side. Dr. Ruthmann, an OU alumnus, explores new media musicianship, creative computing, the creative processes of young musical creators, and music and media technology development for school- and community-based youth programs.

Associate Professor and Music Program Director Deborah VanderLinde, Ph.D., co-edited Exceptional Music Pedagogy for Children with Exceptionalities: International Perspectives, with Kimberly McCord, professor of music education at Illinois State University, in November 2015.

Chapters feature a global set of education communities that explore histories of legislative initiatives and discuss implementation of mandates and teacher-led creative strategies. An array of pedagogical suggestions and scenarios supporting teachers and communities that work with students with disabilities are also provided.

Dr. VanderLinde is a past chair of the National Association for Music Education Special Research Group on Children with Exceptionalities.

The book is featured on the Oxford University Press website and can be purchased on Amazon.

When it comes to popular shows like The Voice, everyone has an opinion. Guy Gordon interviewed Alta Dantzler, D.M.A., on his early-morning show on WJR-AM 760, for her expert opinion on this season’s finale. Dr. Dantzler teaches voice to Opera and Musical Theatre students.

MTD faculty members Michael Mitchell, Kerro Knox and Thayer Jonutz were appointed Doris and Paul Travis Professors for their outstanding accomplishments in teaching, research and professional services. Recipients are chosen every three years.

The award is named for Doris Eaton Travis and her late husband, Paul. Mrs. Travis was a member of the Ziegfeld Follies and had a long career as a stage and film actress. At 76, she attended the University of Oklahoma and graduated with a history degree. Doris and Paul were friends of Alfred and Matilda Wilson, founders of Oakland University, and frequently visited Meadow Brook Hall when they lived in Michigan.