Wednesday, April 19, 2006
MTD hosts Matilda Awards
|Robert Benton, who received the Distinguished Musicianship Award, performs during the MaTilDa Awards.|
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
The Department of Music, Theatre and Dance (MTD) celebrated the past and honored the future at the Seventh Annual MaTilDa Awards April 17 at the Centerpoint Marriott. The formal reception included performances, memorials and recognition of retiring Professor of Music Flavio Varani’s 34 years of service to Oakland University.
The MaTilDa Awards are presented annually to honor students within MTD for their accomplishments in memory of Matilda Dodge Wilson, co-founder of Oakland University.
During the reception, the emcee, Kerro Knox III, associate professor of theatre, presented a key to Varani, who will retire at the end of the semester, and paid tribute to Tom Aston, former MTD staff member and Meadow Brook Theatre designer who passed away in 2005.
This year, students receiving awards performed their best work for the audience, demonstrating the talent and hard work they were being recognized for.
“It’s an honor to receive the Distinguished Musicianship Award,” said Robert Benton, of earning one of the department’s highest honors. “This isn’t my last year, so when I heard that I received this award, I was surprised and very appreciative of it. I have worked hard and participated in a lot of performances since I’ve been at Oakland University. I’m settled with the title and I have worked hard to become so.”
For more information on Oakland University’s music, theatre and dance programs and performances, visit the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance Web site or call (248) 370-2030.
2006 MATILDA AWARD RECIPIENTS
|Flavio Varani, professor of music, receives the key to Oakland University for his 34 years of service. Varani will retire at the end of the semester.|
Distinguished Musicianship Award
- Robert Benton — A senior majoring in music performance, Benton transferred to OU from Western Carolina University in the fall of 2002. His background includes four years of enlistment in the U.S. Army as a soldier and musician with the 82nd Airborne Division Band at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Benton’s performing achievements have taken him to Canada and around the country. In June 2000, he was selected to be principle euphonium for the International All-Stars Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble at the International Tube-Euphonium Conference in Canada. He also has performed as a soloist with the Pontiac Oakland Symphony and Oakland University Symphonic Band as well as the 338th Army Band stationed neat Columbus, Ohio. In 2003, he received the Outstanding Student in Musical Performance Award for MTD. Benton’s professional goal is to teach music in a university setting.
Outstanding Student in Voice Performance
- Christina Gurne — A senior graduating this spring with a degree in vocal performance, Grune has participated in many performances during her undergraduate studies including “Anything Goes,” “Cosi Fan Tutte,” “Suor Angelica,” “Medusa’s Tale” and the Comic Opera Guild’s Victor Herbert Festival in Ann Arbor. She also was a featured soloist with the Oakland Chorale and University Chorus, has debut several original compositions by student composers and performs often in MTD’s Arts at Noon concerts. Grune recently won the David Daniels Young Artist Competition, which gave her the opportunity to sing with the Pontiac Oakland Symphony.
Outstanding Student in Piano Performance
- Ronaldo Rolim — Born in Brazil, Rolim began learning piano from his mother at the age of 4. At 11, he was admitted to the Magda Tagliaferro Foundation, one of the most traditional music schools in Brazil. In 2004, he won two of the most important piano competitions in Brazil and was given a scholarship to travel to the United States to attend Oakland University as a visiting scholar. Rolim began studying with Professor of Music Flavio Varani in 2005 and became a full-time OU student this past fall. He is a recipient of the George and Elizabeth Pyle Seifert Merit Scholarship from the College of Arts and Science and his music activities in MTD include Arts at Noon concerts, two freshman recitals, chamber music concerts and the Pontiac Oakland Symphony Concert Competition.
Outstanding Student in Instrumental Performance
- Ray Sarver — Currently a member of the Oakland Symphonic Band, Percussion Ensemble and Pan Jumbies, Sarver, a music education major, also has performed with the University Chorale, Pontiac Oakland Symphony and has played percussion for several musicals, including “Urinetown.”
Outstanding Student in Music Education
- Gwyn Kubiak — A December 2005 music graduate, Kubiak taught in a general elementary music classroom where she is now serving as a long-term substitute teacher and was entrusted with the fall concerts for the school. Additionally, she was a worship leader at BrookView Community Church for five years and was responsible for implementing a music education program for children ages 3-10.
- Michael Medvinsky — Since first pursing music as a professional drum set and percussion player in 1998, Medvinsky focused his career and aspirations toward music education. In addition to being involved in various ensembles at Oakland University, he has actively worked with schools in the development of their music program.
Outstanding Student in Composition
- Daniel Walshaw — A junior in music composition and active composure, conductor and classical guitarist, Walshaw has had many of his works performed publicly. His studies took him to Brevard Music Center, where he studied composition, orchestration and also began studying conducting. He also was chosen for the 2005 Hollingsworth Award, which he used to study conducting in the Czech Republic with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic. He currently is serving as the assistant conductor and student apprentice of the Pontiac Oakland Symphony.
Outstanding Student in Jazz
- Geoff Brouhard — A senior majoring in music education, Brouhard previously received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and music industry management. He has served as assistant marching band director at Rochester High School for the past four years. He also is part of the Midwest funk band Midtown Underground as well as various jazz quartet performances.
- Jonathan Mann — Mann’s musical life began at age 8 when he started taking drum lessons. Since 1997, he has played drums at the Apostolic Church of Auburn Hills and has been requested nationally by church music conferences. He also has recorded on multiple gospel albums. While studying at Oakland, Mann has performed with several ensembles including Pan Jumbies, OU Chorus, Symphonic Band, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Improv, Jazz Improv Singers Band, Jazz Singers Band and the Jazz Band. Mann also has performed at multiple Professional Artist Series concerts.
Outstanding Student in Chamber Music
- Stephanie Esposito — A master’s student from Exton, Pa., Esposito credits her Oakland experience for bringing her playing to a new level and being a part of the Chamber Ensemble has given her the chance to study and work with outstanding teachers and musicians. Esposito is working toward a doctorate and hopes to one day teach college and play in an orchestra.
Jennifer Scott Memorial Award
- Michele Soroka — A junior piano performance major, Soroka is an active performer on campus from MTD’s Arts at Noon concerts to the Katrina Benefit Concert and chamber music. As a composer, she has a special interest in new music, which she consistently champions on Composers Forum, composition recitals and her own recitals. Soroka hopes to pursue an advanced degree in music theory.
Pat and Mercedes Nicosia Meadow Brook Estate Award
- Kara Kimmer — Kimmer, a third year musical theatre major, currently is working with PC Treasures recording on audio children’s books. In the past, she was a dancer for the Detroit Pistons dance team, Automotion; performed at the Detroit Opera House in “Pirate of Penzance;” performed as a backup danced for Joey McIntyre; and appeared with Cirqu de Soleil at the Renaissance Center. She currently is the dancer choreographer for the Meadow Brook Estate.
Gittlen Achievement Award in Music Theatre
- Katie Pierce — Pierce, a junior theatre major, has appeared in Meadow Brook Estate’s Irving Berlin Review, “Blue Skies,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Urinetown,” “Godspell,” “Opal,” “The Mikado,” “The Laramie Project,” “The Yellow Boat” and “Final Placement.” She also has performed in several musicals at OU including “Chicago,” “Annie, Get Your Gun” and “Peter Pan.”
Gittlen Achievement Award in Theatre Production
- Jessica Pence — Besides being a junior in theatre production, Pence also is a licensed cosmetologist with the state of Michigan. Past shows featuring her work include “Seregeti Tales,” “She Stoops to Conquer,” “The White Rose,” “The Waiting Room,” “Urinetown,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Meadow Brook Theatre’s “Steel Magnolias.”
Gittlen Achievement Award in Theatre Performance
- John Wencel — Wencel’s first major role was at age 8, staring as Captain Hook in his family’s living room production of “Peter Pan.” Since then, he has been lucky enough to participate in many productions in high school and at Oakland. Wencel showcased his own short place, “Life, Death, Etc.” in the fall.
Gittlen Theatre Award
- Brooke Baker — Since joining the department last season as a theatre production major, Baker, a junior, has designed for “The Laramie Project,” “Opal,” “The Waiting Room,” “Urinetown,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Honk!” She also is president of the Actor’s ‘n’ Techies student organization.
Distinguished Dance Student Award
- Deana Deratany — Deratany, a junior, will graduate in 2007 with a performance degree in dance and a theatre minor. Oakland University has given her the opportunity to develop as a dancer and a person. She just completed her first year in the Repertory Dance Company and second year choreographing for the Oakland Dance Theatre. She also recently choreographed for the short film, “I Still Love You,” which premiered at Oakland’s GrizzDance Film Festival.
Jacob Decker Dance Award for Outstanding Dance Performance
- Andrea Sherman — After three years of hard work and dedication, Sherman is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Arts in performing arts in dance. She recently performed in “The Toy Castle,” which toured in Manhattan and Albany, N.Y., and for which she received a travel grant from OU. These opportunities were made possible through her experiences with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble’s apprenticeship program, which she has been part of for two semesters. During her years at OU, Sherman also has participated in the Oakland Dance Theatre and Repertory Company.
Maggie Allesee Dance Award for Outstanding Choreography
- Marcie Tolbert — Tolbert, a senior, has danced with the Oakland Dance Theater and currently is a member of the Oakland Repertory Company. She has had a number of works performed by the Oakland Dance Theatre and performed in MTD’s Arts at Noon series.
- Blair Mellow — Mellow, a senior, is completing two performance degrees, one in theatre performance and the other in voice performance. He has been in the OU Chorale since his freshman year and, for the past two years, he has been the driving force behind the “Oakchords,” the chorale’s men’s group. Mellow has participated in the Meadow Brook Estate and Opera Workshop, sung on many composer’s forums and presented his senior recital last semester. His contributions to the theatre program include roles in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Great Expectations,” “The Laramie Project,” “The White Rose,” “Urinetown,” “The Mikado” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Outstanding Student Service Award
- Katherine Boersma — Boersma, a senior, will graduate this May with a degree in English. She has devoted much of her time to the theatre program at Oakland University, working for Varner Recital Hall for four years, Meadow Brook Theatre and the Studio Theatre behind the scenes in several capacities including property master, sound design and lighting tech. After graduation, Boersma plans to continue her work in theatre.
- Shannon Busse — Busse will graduate this May with a degree in performing arts focusing on dance. She was a member of the Oakland Dance Theater for four semesters and is currently president and a third-year member of the Repertory Dance Company. She has choreographed for the Young Choreographers Forum and for the Senior Concert 2005. Outside of MTD, Busse is a residence hall assistant and has had the opportunity to assist in advising students in academic, personal, social and financial matters.
- Laura Lach — Lach has played the flute and piccolo for more than 10 years, studying at OU for the past five. She has been the librarian for the Oakland Symphonic Band and OU Golden Grizzlies Band. She has performed with many groups on and off campus, including the Oakland Symphonic Band, Golden Grizzlies Band, OU’s production of “Into the Woods” and the OU Flute Choir. Lach spends her summers working at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. She intends to pursue her master’s degree from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit to study youth ministry.
Alumni Achievement Award in Music
- Thomas Bacon — Bacon’s work in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia has placed him in the highest echelon of hornists worldwide. He has held principle horn positions with the Syracuse Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony and Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and guest principle positions with many others. As a soloist, he has performed concertos with hundreds of orchestras and bands across the United States and appears as a guest artist at music festivals throughout the world. Bacon has made nine solo recordings and performed on dozens of others. More than 50 new pieces have been written for him by different composers from dramatic theatre pieces and children’s pieces to avant guard chamber works, solo concertos, jazz and horn ensemble pieces.
Alumni Achievement Award in Theatre
- John Morris — Morris has distinguished careers in both professional theatre and architecture. In 1986, he founded the James, Morris & Kutyla firm, where he designs residential and commercial projects. He also heads the firm’s theatre design division, leading design teams on several adaptive re-use and new construction theatre projects, including the internationally acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s home in Chicago. Other Morris-designed spaces in Chicago include the Noble Fool, Lookingglass Theatre, Raven Theatre, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts and Old Town School of Folk Music’s performance space.
Distinguished Community Service Award
- David Teeple — President of the Port Huron Music Center, a full-line music store in Port Huron, Mich., Teeple also serves on the NAMM Board of Directors, the Elbel Club for the University of Michigan and is the past president of the National Association of School Music Dealers. He is chairman of the School Advisory Council for the Port Huron Area School District and a former member of the Port Huron Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Teeple has been recognized for his accomplishments with the Sam Walton Business Leader Award and honorary membership in the University of Michigan Alumni Band.