A Season to Celebrate for the School of Music, Theatre and Dance

A Season to Celebrate for the School of Music, Theatre and Dance
celebration series dancer gray shirt floral skirt
This Music, Theatre and Dance Celebration Series is presented by Oakland University Credit Union.

The 2017–18 performance season is our first as Oakland University’s newly established School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD). “The creation of the school acknowledges the continual growth of our programs in stature, reputation and the level of influence in the region, state, nation and beyond,” said Jackie Wiggins, director of SMTD. “We have designated this our SMTD celebration year and we invite you to join the celebration.”

We have earmarked seven events to be part of the SMTD Celebration Series, and we joyfully launch the festivities with the world-renowned American Brass Quintet on September 24, the first concert of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit at Oakland series. On October 11 see Woody Allen’s musical Bullets Over Broadway, our opening mainstage theatre show. On November 30 the Oakland Dance Theatre and the Oakland Repertory Company will perform works choreographed by faculty and guest artists. Don’t miss the romantic comic opera Martha on January 11. On February 14 we offer an evening of jazz with artist-in-residence Regina Carter and pianist Xavier Davis. The award-winning OU Brass Band takes center stage along with guest musicians Mountain Town Brass on March 23. The Series ends with a special celebration at Orchestra Hall in Detroit, as the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and Oakland University Symphony Chorus perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in that great hall on April 11. This Music, Theatre and Dance Celebration Series is presented by Oakland University Credit Union.

In addition to these highlights, we have our usual wide range of performances by students, faculty and guest artists, and something a little more unusual to open the season. For five days Varner Hall will host “World Without Ice,” an art installation featuring music, including ice domes suspended over drums, and a film which incorporates the photographs of renowned climate scientist Henry Pollack. There will also be an opening lecture on September 5 and a closing concert on September 9. The event is jointly sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences; The Judd Family Endowed Fund; School of Music, Theatre and Dance; Department of English and the American Studies Concentration.

The Oakland Symphony Orchestra, Oakland University’s resident orchestra, has two concerts in the fall, October 1 and November 5. First founded in 1976, the orchestra continues to provide southeast Michigan with excellent performances of the finest symphonic repertoire. The October concert will include Violin Concerto in D minor by Jean Sibelius with guest soloist Yevgeny Kutik, known for his “dark-hued tone and razor-sharp technique” (The New York Times). 

The University Chorus and Oakland Chorale enjoyed a truly amazing and very successful European tour this summer. Their fall concerts are on November 17 and November 18, off-campus at St Irenaeus Catholic Church.

Other highlights of the fall music program include Detroit-based Rela Percussion, which is unlike any quartet working in music today. Ensemble members Thom Monks, Mike List, Drew Parent, and OU alumnus and faculty member Patrick Fitzgibbon are dedicated to exploring the styles and textures of every percussion instrument. They perform an eclectic blend of classical, world, jazz and electronic music. Rela will be in concert on September 22.

On October 3 the Oakland University Chamber Orchestra will open its season with two distinguished guest soloists. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s assistant principal flutist Sharon Sparrow will join them to premiere Concerto for Flute, Guitar and Strings by OU faculty member Terry Herald; and harpist Kerstin Allvin will be featured in Lyra Angelica for Harp and Strings by William Alwyn.

The World Music Concert on December 8 will also feature a guest, Chinelo Amen-Ra, who has devoted his life to performing, studying and teaching the rhythms of the African Diaspora. Playing with Chinelo will be Oakland’s student ensembles Akwaaba African Ensemble, Ngoma World Percussion Ensemble, and Pan-Jumbies Steel Band as they present a program of music from West Africa and the Caribbean.

The professional work of our faculty will be part of our performance season. Composition faculty member Ben Furhman and Michigan-based composers Lyn Goeringer from Michigan State University, Jon Anderson from Wayne State University and Jay Batzner from Central Michigan University will present a Composers Concert of new and exciting works exploring the world of electroacoustic music on October 18.

Piano faculty member Tian Tian will perform as part of a Piano Concerto Ensemble on September 14, along with Loyola University Assistant Professor Brian Hsu and Jeannette Fang, a member of the Garth Newel Quartet. The trio will perform works written for two pianos by Lutoslawski, Rachmaninoff and others.

On October 9 Associate Professor of Music Kenneth Kroesche will give a faculty euphonium recital that will feature the premiere performance of Flow for Solo Euphonium & Electroacoustics by Benjamin Taylor.

And on October 27 tenor Drake Dantzler and pianist Victoria Shively will present an evening of art song by contemporary composers.

The fall theatre season offers two main stage shows which could not be more different in the challenges they present our students and the entertainment they offer our audiences. Bullets Over Broadway will have eleven performances between October 5 and October 15, with a special SMTD Celebration Series performance on October 11. The musical, which is based on Woody Allen’s Academy Award-nominated film, centers on the creation of a new Broadway show. David, a young playwright in desperate need of financial backing for the show, accepts the aid of a mobster looking to please his showgirl girlfriend. It’s an offer David can’t refuse. Audiences can expect big laughs, colorful characters and the songs that made the 1920s roar.

Between November 9 and November 19, there will be nine performances of Marcus: Or the Secret of Sweet, by Tarell Alvin McCraney, chair of playwriting at Yale School of Drama and winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie Moonlight. The funeral of his best friend’s father awakens in 16-year-old Marcus a need to know more about his own dead father, and about himself. His journey of self-discovery is engaging, sometimes provocative, and often humorous. Ages 18 and over for strong language and suggested sexual content.

Other theatre highlights this fall include three second stage productions: Animal Farm on November 13, 14 and 15; See Rock City & Other Destinations on November 27 and 28; and Island Song, on December 4 and 5.

Between November 30 and December 2, Oakland Dance Theatre and OU Repertory Dance Company will give four performances of their annual showcase featuring works choreographed by OU dance faculty, as well as guest artists Darby Wilde, Lauren Edson and Shaun Boyle, along with a combined Eisenhower Dance and Repertory Dance Company work by alumna Stephanie Pizzo. The November 30 performance is part of the SMTD Celebration Series.

Eisenhower Dance will also appear as guest artists in their always popular season opener On The Move, with performances on October 21 and October 22.

Details about all the SMTD Celebration Series events, and all our other performances, are available in the season brochure, online on the OU website, and in the events section of the MTD Facebook page.