Tuesday, August 14, 2007
On stage with clarinetist Katherine Fox
|Katherine Fox is presented with the Interdisciplinary MaTilDa Award by Associate Professor of Theatre Kerro Knox. (Photo courtesy of David Kidger, associate professor of music, MTD)|
Preparing to begin her fifth year at OU in the fall, Katherine Fox calls herself a “super senior.” She notes, however, that her degree — instrumental music education and performance — requires a four and a half year program, so it’s not as if she’s behind. She’s also tackling a minor in theatre, is a member of The Honors College, and works as a student clerical assistant in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Fox is a winner of the OUAA’s College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship. The award banks $3,000 toward her studies at OU, which is particularly useful because she has paid her own way through college. She works, has taken out loans, and earned several small scholarships—like the MTD Talent Scholarship at $500 per year—to help her foot the bill.
“Some of my financial aid awards don’t carry though to the fifth year, so the scholarship is amazingly helpful right now,” she said. “I’m finally able to get my own apartment.”
Fox, a clarinetist since the fifth grade, grew up in a single-parent family and got involved in orchestra as a way to occupy herself while her mother was at work. When it was time to apply for college, Fox wasn’t quite ready. Although she had a 3.99 GPA and was succeeding in AP classes, she needed a push to get her interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree.
“My high school counselor called me down and just made me do it,” she said. “We looked at a lot of Michigan schools together, but the distance was an issue for me in terms of driving to auditions, so I decided to come to Oakland.”
Fox had been a member of the Oakland Youth Orchestra so she was familiar with OU’s campus, and it was close to her home in Lake Orion, but she admits she didn’t think much beyond that when making her decision. Today, however, she knows Oakland was the right choice.
“Now, I am so glad I applied here. The people here are just like family to me, and I’ve never felt so loved. They are all so invested in where I’m going,” Fox said.
And clearly, Fox is going far. In winter 2007, she applied and received two grants totaling $2500 — the Honors College Thesis Research Grant and OU’s Undergraduate Research Award — to pursue a special opera workshop project under the mentorship of Fred Love, assistant professor of theatre.
“Normally the opera workshop class is just done with a piano accompaniment. I used the grant money to hire a group of 12 musicians to come and play, so the opera students could practice and perform with full orchestration,” said Fox.
The opera workshop performed three times with Fox’s musicians, whom she conducted. Fred Love helped Fox apply for the grants and organize the project.
“He is such an asset to OU,” said Fox, who has served as assistant musical director for five of his shows.
In addition to the workshop, Fox saw a flurry of success this spring. She won the band concerto competition, giving her the opportunity to perform at the spring concert in front of a 55-piece band. She also won the interdisciplinary MaTilDa Award for her organization and performance of John Mackey’s “Damn,” a piece for clarinet with percussion and a choreographed dance ensemble.
To keep her busy this fall, Fox is preparing for her senior recital, to be held Jan. 18, 2008, at 8 p.m. She already has the program set and will publicly perform each piece at least one time before the big night. Fox has chosen Paul Hindemith’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Camille Saint-Saens’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Franz Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock, with soprano Amy Blevins; Joan Tower’s Wings; and Witold Lutaslovski’s Dance Preludes. All but Wings, which is a solo clarinet piece, will be accompanied by Victoria Shively on piano.
Intently focused on the recital, Fox’s plans for the outer reaches of her future change by the minute. But she was inspired by a teacher to integrate music education as part of her bachelor’s degree.
Fox said, “I had a band teacher in high school, Alyssa Jeris, and she was just amazing. I had so many things happen to me growing up, she took the time to listen to me and let me know I was going to make it. I hope one day I am able to help one of my students like she helped me.”