School of Music, Theatre and Dance

MaTilDa Awards honors distinguished performers in music, theatre and dance

icon of a calendarApril 6, 2020

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MaTilDa Awards honors distinguished performers in music, theatre and dance
MaTilDa Awards 2020
The MaTilDa Awards, presented by Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, recognize distinguished students, alumni and community members. (Photo courtesy JLBoone Photography)

Every spring, Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance recognizes distinguished students, alumni and community members with MaTilDa Awards, which are named to honor Matilda Dodge Wilson, who donated the land on which Oakland University is built.

This year’s award winners include:

2020 Alumni and Community Honorees:

• Ann Toomey (Alumni Achievement in Music)

Ann Toomey
Ann Toomey

Ann Toomey, soprano, is a 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions national semifinalist and a 2019 Richard F. Gold Career Grant recipient. Most recently, she made her European debut, to critical acclaim, performing the title role in Suor Angelica at the Berlin Philharmonie. This past 2019 season, she performed as Musetta in La bohème with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, completing her 3 year residency with the Ryan Opera Center. She debuted at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as First Lady in Die Zauberflöte and was seen as the Fifth Maid in Elektra. She had extensive covering opportunities in Chicago, including Elettra (Idomeneo), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), and Micaëla (Carmen). 

Toomey has participated in nationally recognized young artist programs throughout the United States with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. As an enthusiast of operatic new works, she helped develop the role of Boonyi in Jack Perla's Shalimar the Clown with Cincinnati Opera Fusion: New Works. This summer Toomey will be seen performing as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin at Wolf Trap Opera.

Toomey completed her Master of Music degree at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music after receiving a 2014 Corbett scholarship to attend the school. She appeared as Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), the soprano soloist in Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, and The Virgin in Honeger's Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in both music education and vocal performance at Oakland University.

• Lance Mier (Alumni Achievement in Theatre)

Lance Mier
Lance Mier

Lance graduated from Oakland University in 2006 with a major in theatre production. Stage managing A Midsummer's Nights Dream, combined with the program’s exposure to all aspects of production, resonate as what stretched his skill set and set him up for a successful career. 

After graduation, Lance relocated to Williamsburg, Va. to work as a theatre technician in the entertainment department at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Over the next 10 years, his role grew to oversee many aspects of the park's entertainment, including theming, costuming, casting, and event production. He is most proud of his work on the park's signature events, including designing haunted houses for the park's annual Halloween event. He led the production team to develop the Christmas Town event from the ground up, a successful product that has now been deployed across all of the company's parks. 

In 2015, Lance joined SC Johnson's corporate headquarters in Racine, Wisc. as the manager of hospitality and events. In this role, he oversees complex production and travel logistics for corporate meetings and events. He has produced events in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. 

Lance earned his MBA from the College of William and Mary in 2015, and received the Certified Meeting Professional designation from the Convention Industry Council in 2017.

• Ralaya “Rai” Goshea (Alumni Achievement in Dance)

Ralaya Goshea
Ralaya "Rai" Goshea

Ralaya "Rai" Goshea was born and raised in Detroit. She is a full-time dancer and costume mistress with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver. She also serves as a singer, teacher, choreographer, and actress.

Goshea graduated from Oakland University with a B.A.P.A in dance and a focus in business management. While attending OU, she took part in both the Oakland Dance Theatre and the Repertory Dance Theatre. She also performed with Patterson, Rhythm and Pace, The Brown Dance project and the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble Detroit. Between 2004 and 2008, she led the university’s first Hip Hop dance team to five statewide championships and staged numerous concerts and shows for Oakland teams and independent artists.

After graduation, Goshea spent two years with the Dayton Contemporary Dance company II while healing and retraining from a snapped Achilles tendon. Once she was fully rehabilitated, Goshea moved to Denver and has been dancing for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) ever since. She is going into her 10th season with the organization and the company is preparing for its 50th anniversary. The CRPD went to the American Dance Festival in 2019 and will open the season strong at Jacob's Pillow 2020 this July. As for the future, Goshea will continue her roles in the dance community and put herself in line to help cultivate some of the future artists of this next generation.

• Kevin J. Corcoran, Ph.D. (Distinguished Community Service)

Kevin Corcoran
Kevin Corcoran

Kevin Corcoran has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oakland University since 2013 and chief community engagement officer since 2018. He has served on non-profit boards in the arts and focused on diversity and inclusion. He has also led initiatives to build a partnership between the University and the community of Pontiac, Mich.; a partnership, which includes arts and culture, and has sustained since 2014.

During his time as dean, the CAS has launched the Center for Religious Understanding, The Center for Ethics, The Center for Civic Engagement, and The Center for Public Humanities. Each of these efforts seeks to increase mutual understanding and exemplify the College Theme of “Unity in Diversity.” The visual and performing arts have been core elements of this effort to increase understanding.

A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Corcoran previously served as dean of Arts and Sciences at Northern Kentucky University and was department head in psychology at the University of Cincinnati. In addition, he served as an American Council on Education Fellow in 2005-06. As a clinical psychologist, his clinical work focused on families while his scholarly work focused on addictive behavior.

2020 Student Honorees:

Distinguished Musicianship Award
Caroline Roberts

Outstanding Student in Voice Performance
Gillian Tackett

Outstanding Student in Piano Performance (undergraduate)
Catherine Hechtman

Outstanding Student in Piano Performance (graduate)
Nicole Szarama

Jennifer Scott Memorial Award
Paige Broadworth

Joyce Adelson Outstanding Collaborative Piano Award
Ting Yu

Outstanding Students in Instrumental Performance (undergraduate)
Colin Holstein and Scott Votush

Outstanding Student in Instrumental Performance (graduate)
James Besaw

Outstanding Students in Music Education
Erin Kurtz and Michael Baker

Outstanding Student in Jazz
Michael Baker

Pat and Mercedes Nicosia Meadow Brook Estate Award
Doran Berger

Gittlen Achievement Award in Acting
Kelsi Fay

Gittlen Achievement Award in Theatre Design and Technology
Matthew Carlsen

Gittlen Achievement Award in Musical Theatre
Alaina Whidby

Gittlen Theatre Award
Dryden Zurawski

Distinguished Dance Students
Michael Hankins and Amanda Fabry

Maggie Allesee Choreography Award
Alexa Donnelly

Outstanding Dance Performance
Torri Johnson and Isabella Vincent

Outstanding Student Service Award – Music
Sarah Bussineau

Outstanding Student Service Award – Theatre
Olive Ferguson

Outstanding Student Service Award – Dance
Ernesto Duran

MTD Award
(for commitment to the interdisciplinary nature of the department)
Annika Andersson

The MaTilDa Awards ceremony, originally scheduled for Monday, April 6, is in the process of being rescheduled. For more information, visit

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