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Vocal group receives rare performance honor, twice

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Vocal group receives rare performance honor, twice
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

The Oakland Chorale, the elite touring choral ensemble in Oakland University’s Department of Music Theatre and Dance, drew a pair of standing ovations during a recent performance at the American Choral Directors Association-Michigan fall conference.

“A standing ovation at a conference is rare, and two of them are even rarer. So obviously I am very proud of the students,” said Oakland Chorale Director Dr. Michael Mitchell.

In all, six choirs from Michigan – and one from Illinois – sang at the conference, which also featured presentations by esteemed clinicians and conductors from around the state.

The 38-member Oakland Chorale performed multiple selections, including Williametta Spencer’s “At The Round Earth’s Imagined Corners,” Richard Farrant’s “Lord, for Thy Tender Mercy’s Sake,” Stanford Scriven’s “This is the Day,” and “Dwijavanthi,” arranged by Ethan Sperry.

Two of the group’s selections came from clinicians with OU ties. They performed “Gloria, Pax, Alleluia,” a piece composed by Dr. Mitchell, and “Go Down, Moses,” arranged by OU alumnus Jeffrey Cobb, director of Music Programs and Choirs at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

The event, held at First Presbyterian Church of Flint, provided a great performance venue, according to Dr. Mitchell, who has conducted the Oakland Chorale since 1997.

“It was a wonderful learning experience for our singers,” he said. “The First Presbyterian Church in Flint has beautiful acoustics for musical performance and the choir sang beautifully there.”

The choirs that performed at the conference were selected through a “blind audition” process.

“Directors submit a recording of their choir to the organization, and a panel of distinguished choral directors listens to them without knowing what choirs they are,” Dr. Mitchell explained. “The top-rated choirs are invited to sing at the conference.”

The Oakland Chorale maintains a busy concert schedule, including frequent appearances with Oakland’s resident orchestra, the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. The chorale has toured extensively throughout the state and region, as well as to New York and Texas in recent years.

Looking ahead, the group will hold its fall choral concert on Nov. 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. at St. Irenaeus Church in Rochester Hills. During the winter 2014 semester, they will be performing Carl Orff’s spectacular choral/orchestral work “Carmina Burana” with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra at the historic Orchestra Hall in Detroit.

For more information on programs and performances in OU’s Department of Music Theatre and Dance, visit the website at or call (248) 370-2030.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with more than 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.