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The Department of Music offers a comprehensive education in music for undergraduate and graduate students. The opportunity to work with internationally and nationally renowned faculty creates a vibrant atmosphere for musical and intellectual growth. Our students also learn from one another, forming a supportive musical community. In addition to their work as teachers, performers, and researchers, OU faculty mentor students as they prepare for careers and further study in a range of musical fields. The Oakland University Department of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM.)


Mahki was able to turn his passion for music into a thriving future. Here’s how:

From a young age, music helped Mahki express emotions and creativity without words.

He studied violin performance and music education because of the faculty at Oakland University who inspired him.

While at OU, he was able to perform with a number of ensembles, make lifelong friends, and become a confident musician.

He hopes to get his master’s, continue to perform and inspire the next generation through teaching.

Mahki is following his passions. You can too.

Auditions Music Education Field Services Graduate Programs
Bachelor of Music (BMus) Bachelor of Arts in Music (BA)
  • A Liberal Arts degree program
Minors in Music Undergraduate Audition Information
All undergraduate programs (except the non-auditioned liberal arts minor) require students to audition for admission. At the audition, students must demonstrate proficiency in their instrument of choice or voice. Your first step is to apply for admission. To apply online for free, visit the Oakland University Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Graduate Certificates are offered in conducting, education, pedagogy and performance.
Contact Professor  Deborah VanderLinde , music education program coordinator for post-baccalaureate music teacher certification.
Oakland University Bands 
  • Oakland University Wind SymphonyThe Wind Symphony (MUE 3031) is Oakland University’s premier wind band comprised of undergraduate and graduate student musicians selected annually through competitive audition. Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Cunningham, director of bands, the Wind Symphony maintains an active schedule of concerts both on and off campus. During the 2017-2018 academic year the band was invited to perform as one of two Michigan university ensembles to present at the Thursday evening Collegiate Concert of the 2018 Michigan Music Conference. They also received an invitation to perform in February 2018 as one of eight university bands, selected through juried peer review, at the 2018 College Band Directors National Association North Central Conference in Kalamazoo, MI. Former members of the Oakland University Wind Symphony have gone on to pursue graduate study at such schools as the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Cambridge (England), Carnegie Mellon University, Rutgers, Southern Methodist University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, Bowling Green State University, University of Kansas, Shenandoah Conservatory, Western Michigan University, New Mexico State University and Northwestern State University (LA). Others are active music educators throughout the United States with positions at the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels.
  • Oakland University Symphonic Band - Founded in 2006, the Oakland University Symphonic Band (MUE 3029) is a concert band comprised of student musicians drawn from all majors within Oakland University, and is open to all university students without audition. The Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Pamela L. Klena, performs concerts on the Oakland University campus with repertoire drawn from the finest of contemporary and traditional band literature.
  • Golden Grizzlies Band - The Oakland University Golden Grizzlies Band or “Grizz Band” is a non-auditioned ensemble made up of some of the most spirited students on campus who love continuing to play their instruments after high school! Students can take the course for zero (no cost) or one credit depending on need. Students should sign up for both semesters with the course number MUE 3032.

    Rehearsals are in the Fall Semester on Fridays from 3:30-4:50p, totaling approximately 8-10 sessions. Home game obligations take place on evenings and weekends, and participants are asked to commit to 12 out of around 30 home games scheduled between November and March. There are additional opportunities to perform at the conference tournament in Indianapolis and potentially at the NCAA March Madness Tournaments in March as we did in the First  and Second Rounds of 2024 in Pittsburgh, PA. Students receive a stipend for each game they play. The Golden Grizzlies Band is under the direction of professor P. David Visnaw II.


Oakland University Chamber Orchestra and Ensembles
  • University Chamber Orchestra - Founded in January of 2010, the University Chamber Orchestra (MUE 3019) is open to all Oakland University students who play violin, viola, cello or bass, subject to audition and/or director approval. Under the direction of Professor Alan MacNair, Adjunct Instructor of Orchestral Ensembles, this chamber orchestra performs two concerts per semester with repertoire drawn from the past 350 years. Concerts take place at Varner Hall on the Oakland University Campus, and feature classics from the String Orchestra repertoire, the Chamber Orchestra repertoire, as well as alternative literature.
  • University Chamber Ensembles - The Department of Music Theatre and Dance offers a comprehensive list of small ensemble offerings that serve as an integral aspect of the instrumental culture at Oakland University. Students interested in participating in these ensembles are asked to contact the instructor of record for further information.

    Chamber Ensemble – mixed instrumentation (MUE 3080, section 001)
    Flute Ensemble (MUE 3072)
    Clarinet Ensemble (MUE 3080, section 002)
    Saxophone Ensemble (MUE 3071)
    Percussion Ensemble (MUE 3073)
    Guitar Ensemble (MUE 3070)
    Steel Band (MUE 3046)
    African Ensemble (MUE 3045)
Oakland University Jazz
The Oakland University Jazz Program provides many opportunities for students. Our Jazz Band (MUE 2040) and Jazz Combos (MUE 3041) perform around the Metro Detroit area, and have featured such guest artists as Regina Carter and Doc Holladay. OU offers jazz classes in Jazz Theory, Jazz History and Analysis, and Arranging.

Oakland Symphony Orchestra
The Oakland Symphony Orchestra (OSO) is the orchestra-in-residence at Oakland University, serving both the academic mission of the university and the community at large. This ensemble provides the opportunity for Oakland students, faculty, and alumni to perform together with professional musicians from the region, performing the finest orchestral works in one of the region’s highly regarded ensembles.

The OSO performs a series of four concerts annually, three in Oakland's Varner Recital Hall and the final concert of each season in a venue such as Orchestra Hall at the Max. M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit. For the series finale, the Oakland Symphony Chorus joins the orchestra to perform a major work for chorus and orchestra. The orchestra also holds an annual concerto competition that offers Oakland music students an opportunity to perform as soloists with the orchestra at the David Daniels Young Artists Concert, each February.

Having the Oakland Symphony in residence at Oakland University provides an exciting and unique experience for our students and for the community.

World Music Ensembles
The Oakland University African Drum and Xylophone Ensemble, known as Akwaaba, studies and performs drumming and xylophone traditions from Ghana and Uganda.

The Oakland University Steel Band, known as Pan-Jumbies, studies and performs steel pan and drum traditions from Trinidad, other Caribbean Islands, and South America.

The Oakland University World Percussion Ensemble, known as Ngoma, is an auditioned group that studies and performs diverse global percussion music, including traditions from Africa, India, and the Americas.

Piano Studio
The study of piano at Oakland University pairs talented young musicians with renowned music educators, in a program that prepares students for careers on stage and in the classroom.

Students enjoy small class sizes and significant performance opportunities in a variety of ensembles, in recital and master class settings.

Music students enjoy opportunities for collaborations and multi-discipline performance and training opportunities, in cooperation with the dance and theatre programs. Our music education program prepares teachers to be independent thinkers, decision-makers and innovators, providing them with tools for a lifetime of professional and personal growth.

Our faculty includes professional musicians who have achieved national and international reputations for their innovative ideas on teaching and musical understanding. Through coursework, fieldwork and internship experiences, students learn innovative principles and practices that apply across a variety of educational settings, preparing them to meet the professional challenges of the future.
The Oakland University Symphony Chorus
The Symphony Chorus is made up of members of the Oakland Chorale and the University Chorus, as well as faculty, staff, and alumni. The group was formed in 2006 to perform major choral works with large instrumental ensembles. The Symphony Chorus appears most frequently with the Pontiac-Oakland Symphony and has recently performed the Levin edition of the Mozart Requiem in honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of its composer, as well as the Durufle Requiem, the Daniel Pinkham Christmas Cantata, and the Debussy Nocturnes. In 2008 the Chorus joined forces with the Pontiac-Oakland Symphony to perform Guiseppe Verdi's Requiem at Detroit's historic Orchestra Hall in honor of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Oakland University.

The Oakland University Chorus
The University Chorus (MUE 3001) is open to all university students without audition. Prior musical and choral experience is recommended. The group performs great choral literature from the last 500 years and also enjoys a focus on multicultural music from around the world. The University Chorus was the first student choral group formed on the Oakland campus in the 1960s and has a long, proud history of making great music on the OU campus.

The Oakland Chorale
The Oakland Chorale (MUE 3004) is OU’s elite touring choral ensemble. Membership in the Chorale is open to all university students via competitive audition each fall. The Chorale maintains a busy concert schedule including annual appearances with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra at historic Orchestra Hall in Detroit. The Chorale has toured frequently throughout Michigan and the Midwest, as well as to Texas and New York, and appeared with the Rolling Stones as part of their Zip Code Tour at Detroit’s Comerica Park. In February 2017 the choir will perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and in summer 2017, will undertake a European concert tour featuring performances in Venice, Italy; Vienna, Austria; Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenia; and Zagreb, Croatia. The Chorale has been honored to rehearse and perform with many distinguished musicians, including Morten Lauridsen, Simon Carrington, Eph Ehly, and Stacey Gibbs. Lauridsen praised the choir for giving “one of the finest performances of my music I have ever heard,” and Gibbs composed Live a-Humble for the Chorale as a thank you for singing his music with great passion. Recent Chorale alumni have pursued graduate study in music at the University of Michigan, Indiana University, New England Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, and Juilliard, among others, and include a finalist and several regional winners of the Metropolitan Opera auditions, a finalist in the Placido Domingo Competition, and the winner in the National Student Auditions at the NATS National Conference. Chorale alumni are also pursuing professional musical careers in the US and Europe, and teaching music in schools throughout the country.

Oakland Opera and Opera Workshop
Opera and Opera Workshop (MUE 3055/5050) students perform scenes and full operas through out the year at Oakland. Every semester there is a production of either a complete opera with costumes, sets and orchestra, or a scenes program with repertoire picked specifically for the students in Opera Workshop.

Directed by Dr. Drake Dantzler, recent full productions have included works by Mozart, Menotti, Puccini, and Monteverdi, and scenes productions have been drawn from works that date from the early 17th century to exciting contemporary operas.

Oakland Jazz Singers
Ensemble performance of complex vocal jazz works. Development of jazz style and blend, scat-singing, solo production and microphone technique. (MUE 3015) Directed by Scott Gwinnell.
Oakland Symphony Orchestra

Tracing a tradition of excellence to 1976, Oakland University’s resident orchestra continues to provide Southeast Michigan with excellent performances of the finest symphonic repertoire. Join us on the OU campus for the first two concerts of our season, Macomb for the third, and then at spectacular Orchestra Hall in Detroit for the season finale.

Oakland Symphony Orchestra with the Oakland University Treble Choir
Sunday, October 1, 2023 at 3 p.m.
Varner Recital Hall

Oakland Symphony Orchestra with the Oakland University Chorale
Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 3 p.m.
Macomb Center for the Performing Arts

Oakland Symphony Orchestra  
27th Annual David Daniels Young Artists Concert
Sunday, February 18, 2023 at 3 p.m.

Oakland Symphony Orchestra and Oakland University Symphony Chorus
Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Orchestra Hall (Detroit)

About the Conductor
Dr. Gregory Cunningham, music director and conductor, is a Professor of Music at Oakland University, where he serves as Director of Bands, conducts the Oakland University Wind Symphony, and teaches orchestral/wind conducting and literature at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

He is also a frequent guest conductor of honor orchestras and bands throughout the Midwest and he serves as a guest conductor and clinician for many high school and middle school ensembles throughout the United States.

Request an OSO Brochure

School of Music, Theatre and Dance

Varner Hall, Room 207
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
Academic Office: (248) 370-2030
Box Office: (248) 370-3013
Fax: (248) 370-2041