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MaTilDa Awards to honor music, theatre and dance performers

Sunday, April 6, 2014
MaTilDa Awards to honor music, theatre and dance performers

The award ceremony, which is open to the public, will be held on Sunday, April 13.
Oakland University’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance will present the 15th Annual MaTilDa Awards to honor outstanding contributions from Music Theatre and Dance students, alumni and community partners. The red carpet event is set for 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, at the Royal Park Hotel in downtown Rochester and includes dinner and entertainment. The public is welcome.

Tickets are $22 for students and $42 for all others. To purchase tickets, go online or call the Music Theatre and Dance office at (248) 370-2030. The Royal Park Hotel is located at 600 East University Drive in Rochester. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For additional information, visit the website at

OU alumni Kerstin Allvin, Esau Pritchett, Denise Caston will be honored for distinguished achievements, along with Steve Wogaman, who will be honored for community service. Allvin will receive the award for Alumni Achievement in Music. She was a co-winner of OU's Distinguished Musicianship Award in 1982 and transferred to the University of Indiana to complete her Bachelor of Music in Harp Performance. She went on to graduate from the University of Michigan with a Master of Music. A professional harpist, Allvin currently performs with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. She also freelances as a performer and recording artist while maintaining a private teaching studio and teaching harp classes at OU. 

Pritchett will be recognized for Alumni Achievement in Theatre. After graduating from Oakland in 1999 with a B.A. in Performing Arts, Pritchett moved to New York to carve out a career on stage and screen. He has starred in “A Free Man of Color” at Lincoln Center in New York, and his film and television credits include long-running shows like “Law & Order” and “One Life to Live.” Earlier this year, Pritchett was hailed in a New York Times theater review for his work in a production of August Wilson’s “Fences” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey.

Caston is the honoree for Alumni Achievement in Dance. She is the director of the Detroit Tap Repertory and organizer of Motor City Tap Fest, an annual festival offering tap dance classes in downtown Detroit. She performed with the Rockettes for 10 years and her career includes dance tours throughout the U.S. and Australia. While at OU, Caston was an original member of the Patterson Rhythm Pace Dance Company, which performed at the Jazz Dance World Congress in 1999. She also performed and choreographed extensively for the Oakland Dance Theatre. She graduated from OU in 2001 with a Bachelor of General Studies.

Wogaman, this year’s Distinguished Community Service honoree, is president of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, one of the world’s premiere chamber music presenting organizations. With his leadership, the Chamber Music Society of Detroit and Oakland University jointly launched a new concert series featuring nationally recognized chamber musicians. Among other roles, Wogaman has also served as the chief executive of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and the Canton Symphony Orchestra in Canton, Ohio.

The 2014 student honorees: 

Francesca Garippa
Outstanding Dance Performance 

Garippa is a senior and will graduate with a BFA in Dance, a BS in Business Administration and a minor in Human Resource Management. During her time at OU, she has performed with Oakland Dance Theatre, OU Repertory Dance Company, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Eisenhower Dance and Take Root, a Detroit-based company for whom she is currently an apprentice.

Rachel Hull, Gittlen Achievement Award in Acting
Rachel Hull
Gittlen Achievement Award in Acting

Hull’s acting credits at Oakland include “The Women of Lockerbie,” “Grey Gardens” “Police Deaf Near Far,” “Dead Man's Cell Phone” “Anansi,” “Antigone,” “Blithe Spirit,” and “Sweet Charity.” This summer, she will be playing Imogen in “Cymbeline” and Gwendolyn in “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. Hull has been nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship and won the 2013 MaTilDa Award for Outstanding Service in Theatre. 

Jason Maracani
Gittlen Theatre Award

Maracani is a sophomore in OU’s Theatre Design and Technology Program. His credits include “Sweet Charity” (Scenic Design), “Carrie: The Musical” (Asst. Scenic Design), and “Legally Blonde” (Asst. Lighting Design) He will serve as a scenic painting intern at the Texas Shakespeare Festival this summer.   

Lindsay Maron
Gittlen Achievement Award in Musical Theatre 

Throughout her four years at Oakland, Maron has performed in many main stage productions. Some of her roles include Nickie in “Sweet Charity,” Chris Hargensen in “Carrie: The Musical” and Serena in “Legally Blonde.” Maron spent last summer at the Barn Theatre in Augusta Mich., where she earned points towards her equity card. After graduation, she plans to move to New York City to pursue her career.

Melissa Perry
Gittlen Achievement Award in Musical Theatre

While at OU, Perry has played several leading roles, including Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” and Sue Snell in “Carrie: The Musical.” After graduation, she plans to move to New York City to pursue her career.

Daniel Robinson
Gittlen Achievement Award in Theatre Design and Technology 

Daniel Robinson is a junior Theatre Design and Technology major, with a focus in lighting design. His design work has been displayed in “Carrie: the Musical,” “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” “Police Deaf Near Far,” and other productions. Robinson will spend this summer at Maine State Music Theatre as an assistant master electrician and lighting designer.

Joshua James
Graduate Instrumental Performance

James began studying music at an early age, starting with piano and moving to clarinet, saxophone, and bassoon. He is currently completing a master’s degree in Music Education from Oakland University. He has achieved successful careers in performance, composing, arranging, and music education. While serving on the music faculties of both Madonna University and St. Mary's Preparatory, James has written music across all genres for middle school, high school, collegiate, and professional ensembles. In addition to being the current music director for the Planet D. Nonet, a nine-piece "little big-band" on the Detroit Music Factory label, James also fronts the Nighthawks Jazz Orchestra and the Bridge Project Big band. 

Amber Klaus, Distinguished Dance Student
Amber Klaus
Distinguished Dance Student 

Amber Klaus is a senior dance major and scholarship recipient in the dance program at Oakland University. She will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and plans to continue dancing, performing and teaching. Klaus has been dancing for 19 years and has been a part of OU’s Repertory Dance Company for the past two years. Before that, she traveled across the United States with LA Dance Magic as a member of their dance ensemble. After graduation, she plans to audition for local dance companies or move to Los Angeles to continue taking classes and audition for more commercial roles. Eventually, she plans to open her own studio where she will pass on her knowledge and passion for dance to the next generation.

Stephanie Perlaki
Distinguished Musicianship Award
Outstanding Student in Music Education 

Stephanie Perlaki is a senior and will be graduating in April with majors in instrumental music education and percussion performance, as well as a minor in world music. In her time at OU, she has been involved in the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Percussion Ensemble, Brass Band, Akwaaba and Ngoma African Ensembles, and the Pan Jumbies and Pan Jazz Steel Bands. She studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa in 2012. She also managed the Oakland University Cooperative Orchestra Library for nearly four years and taught the Early Childhood Music class for the Music Preparatory Division during the fall 2013 semester.  

Tubas D’Amore (James Long, Annette Brewer, Graham Roese and Ian Lester)
Chamber Music Award

Lester is currently a sophomore at Oakland double majoring in music education and euphonium performance. In 2012, he qualified for the Michigan All-State Band and in 2013 advanced to the finals of the Music Teachers National Association solo competition held in Anaheim, Calif.

A tuba player, Roese is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in music performance at Oakland University. He serves as graduate assistant to OU’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, and is currently the principal tubist of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Festival Orchestra, and recently appeared in the Friday Recital Series in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, performing James Grant's “Double Concerto.”

Alexander Kopitz
Outstanding Student in Piano Performance 

Kopitz is a junior majoring in piano performance and a winner of the 2014 Oakland University Concerto Competition, in which he performed a movement from Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto. He was also awarded multiple academic and music scholarships, including the 2013 Mu Phi Epsilon Detroit Chapter Salon Scholarship. Additionally, he received several perfect scores at Michigan Federation of Music Clubs Festivals for solo pieces, as well as Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue,” and was nominated to the MSBOA Michigan Youth Arts Festival for piano. With hopes of becoming a concert pianist, Kopitz plans to pursue a graduate degree in performance.

Ann Toomey
Outstanding Student in Voice (Undergraduate)

Ann Toomey has enjoyed great success as a performer at OU. The soprano most recently played Nella in Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” and Despina in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte,” This year, she won the David Daniels Young Artist Competition in February and made the finals of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music’s Corbett Opera Competition in March. Toomey will graduate this spring with dual degrees in vocal performance and vocal music education and plans to pursue a master’s in vocal performance.

Joshua Nuss
Outstanding Student in Jazz

Nuss is a fourth-year student pursuing a bachelor’s in Music Education with a minor in Jazz Studies. He currently studies bass trombone and performs in a variety of ensembles, including Oakland University’s Brass Band, Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, and the Kroescendo Trombone Quartet. In addition, he is a percussionist in the Symphonic Band and studies Jazz Piano. He has participated in an array of student organizations such as the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, Oakland University Student Congress, National Association for Music Education and Student Life Lecture Board. In 2013, Nuss received an award from the Center for Student Activities for the Most Outstanding New Student Organization President for his work in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a men's organization built upon a love for music and the powerful bonds of brotherhood. He plans to begin his teaching career upon graduation and has hopes of pursuing a graduate degree in conducting.

David Mety
Outstanding Student in Music Education

Mety is a recent graduate of Oakland University, where he completed his bachelor's degree in Instrumental Performance & Music Education (K-12). During his time at Oakland, he has been the principal percussionist in both the Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band and has performed with the Golden Grizzlies Athletic Band, Brass Band, Jazz Band, Oakland Symphony, Steel Drum Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and both University Choirs. In 2011, Mety performed as a soloist with the Oakland Symphony as the Instrumental Area Concerto Competition Winner. He teaches at L'Anse Creuse High School-North in Macomb, MI, where he is currently the interim band paraprofessional, and also serves as the front ensemble instructor with the Marching Crusaders and director of the percussion ensemble. In addition to teaching, Mety also enjoys performing with various orchestras, bands and theater productions around the state. 

Matthew Wagner
MTD Award

Wagner is pursuing a BFA in Dance, with minors in Spanish and Theatre. Along with his work at OU, he currently serves as an instructor for a number of companies teaching gymnastics, dance and stage combat. He works professionally for Enchanted Productions as a dancer and manager, as well as a choreographer for the Performing Arts Drama Group in Milford, Mich. His future plans include pursuing careers in performing, teaching, designing and choreography.

Lauren Wilson, Outstanding Student in Instrumental Performance
Lauren Wilson
Outstanding Student in Instrumental Performance 

Wilson is a junior guitar performance major at Oakland University and has been playing guitar for seven years. In 2013, she shared departmental recognition for Outstanding Student in Chamber Music with three fellow guitarists and has since expanded her chamber music performances to include collaborations on works with voice and flute. She has performed in three master classes this year and also performs regularly in guitar ensemble concerts. She currently leads the Supplemental Instruction sessions for freshman theory and teaches private lessons for Oakland’s Music Preparatory division. After graduating from OU, Wilson plans to pursue graduate study in music theory and guitar.

Samantha Wood
Outstanding Student in Voice Performance (Graduate)

Wood is a second year master's student and graduate assistant at Oakland University studying vocal performance. While at OU, Wood has performed in both the opera and opera workshop programs, playing the roles of La Maestra delle novizie in “Suor Angelica,” The Governess in “The Turn of the Screw,” and Irene in “Rienzi,” This spring, she will play the role of Empress Ottavia in OU’s upcoming production of “L'incoronazione di Poppea.” As a winner of the David Daniel's Young Artist Concerto Competition, Wood performed with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra this past February. Her future plans include completing her degree in fall 2014 and pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree the following year.

Isaac Boehnlein
Outstanding Student Service Award: Music
Outstanding Student in Instrumental Performance

Boehnlein is a senior trumpet player studying music education. While at Oakland University, he has played in the Golden Grizzlies Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, Oakland Symphony Orchestra, and Brass Band. He is currently the principal trumpet in Wind Symphony, as well as the principal cornet in the Brass Band. In February of this year, he was named a co-winner of the Oakland University Band Concerto Competition.

Benjamin Deman
Outstanding Student Service Award: Theatre

Deman is in his third year at OU pursuing a BFA in Acting. His OU theatre credits include “Anansi,” and “Under Milk Wood,” along with a few student-directed works. He has also been part of the set construction team for several shows at Oakland.

Nicole Szarama and Kimberly Szarama
Joyce Adelson Piano Ensemble Award

Twins Kimberly and Nicole have been taking piano lessons since the age of four and performed their first ensemble work together at the age of five. Both are currently sophomores majoring in piano performance, with Nicole studying for a Japanese minor and Kimberly pursuing a Japanese major.

Kiel Lerch
Pat and Mercedes Nicosia Meadow Brook Estate Award

Lerch is a senior musical theatre major at Oakland University and will be graduating this spring with a BFA in Musical Theatre. His previous OU credits include “Bells are Ringing,” “Second Shepherd's Play,” “Pageant Play,” “Little Mary Sunshine,” “Spring Awakening,” “Legally Blonde, “Carrie: The Musical” and two independent cabarets, “Vanilla Thunder” and “Kiel Not Kyle.”

Lisa Johns
Maggie Allesee Choreography Award

Johns is currently a senior at OU working toward her B.F.A. in Dance. Her training began at age two with Joanne Zavisa at Joanne’s Dance Extension in Canton, Mich. She has participated in the Student Honors Intensive Program at the University of Buffalo. During her OU career, she has performed works by a variety of choreographers, including Meg Paul, Sean Hoskins, Lisa LaMarre, and Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz of Take Root. Johns’ choreography has been featured in Oakland Dance Theatre and has also been performed at the American College Dance Festival Association’s formal concert at Ohio University. She looks forward to continuing her career as a choreographer after graduation.

Alexandra Zetye
Jennifer Scott Memorial Award

Zetye is a fifth-year senior majoring in Piano Performance. She previously earned the MatilDa Award for Outstanding Student in Piano Performance and also won the David Daniels Concerto Competition, performing with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she participates in OU’s Wind Symphony and performed the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto with the ensemble in the fall of 2013. Along with studying piano performance, she is also pursuing majors in engineering biology, French and mathematics.