School of Music, Theatre and Dance

School of Music, Theatre and Dance welcomes new director

icon of a calendarJuly 12, 2023

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School of Music, Theatre and Dance welcomes new director
Dr. Elisabeth Hoegberg
Dr. Elisabeth Honn Hoegberg is the new director of Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

As a child, Dr. Elisabeth Honn Hoegberg discovered how the music she played could connect her to the people around her.

“An elderly neighbor once brought me a bouquet of flowers because he said he loved hearing me practice while working in his garden,” she said. “I was so moved that something I’d thought I was doing for myself was actually touching the world around me. That’s when I decided that I wanted to study music for life, to understand how it can be so powerful. And I feel absolutely the same about theatre and dance. I’m awed by the power that we carry within us to create and share transcendent experiences.”

As the new director of Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Hoegberg hopes to use her lifelong passion for the performing arts to build connections, beginning with the OU community.

“My door is always open,” she said. “And like (Interim SMTD Director) Deb VanderLinde, I usually have tea on and often with biscuits. I hope everyone will stop by for a cup and a chat.”

Hoegberg received a Ph.D. in Music Theory and an M.A. in Musicology from Indiana University, and a Bachelor’s in Music History and Piano from Illinois State University.

While pursuing her baccalaureate, she served as music director of the Normal Parks and Recreation Summer Theatre Program, a repertory high school company, and performed as a singer and instrumentalist with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

At Indiana University, concurrent with her studies, Hoegberg held the positions of Associate Instructor in Music Theory and Musical Skills Coordinator and was active with the Jacobs School of Music’s Early Music Institute. In addition to performing and recording repertoire spanning eight centuries, she studied voice with Paul Elliot and was research assistant to Thomas Binkley, translating and editing his German language writings.

She was also an assistant on the Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum project as a proofreader, adjacent to her research in historical music theory that culminated in her dissertation “From Theory to Practice: Composition and Analysis in Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie universelle,” one of the few works to examine the intersection between 17th century theory and musical practice.

In her first academic appointment, Hoegberg taught aural skills at Oberlin Conservatory, where she also coached (and played keyboards in) O-Rock, an aural skills rock band project. Hoegberg moved to Indianapolis in 2000 and in 2001 accepted a position at the University of Indianapolis, teaching written theory, counterpoint and keyboard. In 2018, she was appointed Chair of the Music Department and in 2020 assumed leadership of the Department of Theatre.

“Being chair of two departments has been excellent preparation for stepping into the director position as it's allowed me to understand intimately how the different disciplines function,” she said. “I think that chair-level knowledge is essential for a dean-level leader to be able to understand departmental challenges and needs. At the same time, overseeing two degree programs has helped me develop a broader view of arts in higher education that will certainly benefit me as director of a comprehensive school.”

Hoegberg’s research interests include historical theory and pedagogy and late 19th-century French stage works, particularly gender representation in operetta, on which she has published several chapters. She is currently writing a monograph on the stage works of Chabrier, the first English language volume on the composer in over 70 years, and is a co-editor of Genre beyond Borders: Reassessing Operetta, forthcoming from Routledge.

Hoegberg is also an active collaborative musician. For many years she was a session artist with Aire Born Studios in Zionsville, Ind., recording hundreds of choral demos, and has appeared with the American Pianists Association, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. She was a professional chorister at Trinity Episcopal Church Indianapolis from 1997-2023, leading the soprano section and serving as a chorister trainer in the church’s RSCM program and served as a staff singer with the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation for many years. She regularly performs with Molto Piano, a collaborative piano ensemble based at the University of Indianapolis.

She has served on the boards of Indianapolis Early Music, most recently as President-Elect and as member-at-large for Echoing Air, a Baroque ensemble focused on community outreach and education. Hoegberg is also President of the Great Lakes Chapter of the College Music Society and further serves the organization on the ad hoc national oversight committee.

As director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at Oakland University, Hoegberg said she wants to work collaboratively to shape the school’s identity and its path forward.

“This is an immensely exciting time to join the SMTD; there is so much inherent forward motion as we continue to recover from the pandemic and begin to settle into our new spaces in Varner,” she said. “My hope is to increase that momentum and put it to work in service of our students and programs.”

Among the challenges Hoegberg hopes to address are returning enrollment and programming to pre-Covid benchmarks while also dealing with the financial challenges higher education — and the arts in particular — currently face.

“There are so many things I’m looking forward to, but first and foremost is going back to school and learning all about the SMTD and OU so I can be the best representative and advocate possible,” she said.

Hoegberg is married to James Mussell, professor of 19th Century Print Cultures and director of research at the University of Leeds. She has three children — sons Erick and Andrew and stepdaughter Miranda.

To learn more about Dr. Hoegberg, visit

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