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Recent highlights from the Bass School of Music


Dean Mark Parker concluded his 16th educational outreach tour to China in June with a lecture at Northwest Minzu University in Lanzhou, Gansu province. NWMU's student body of 29,000 includes representation from each of China's 56 ethnic groups; the school helps identify and preserve distinctive characteristics of the nation's cultural heritage. In May, eight OCU music theater students performed with students from Tianjin Conservatory of Music during the grand finale of a two-week music theater intensive led by Dr. David Herendeen and fellow Bass School faculty Autumn West, Corey Melaugh and Brian Cowing. This month, Dean Parker led a team of faculty on the Bass School’s first-ever Chinese audition tour. The nine-city itinerary, the most ambitious music outreach in China by a U.S.-based university, included reunions with Bass School alumni including pianist Victor Duan, who co-hosted OCU auditions in Tianjin Concert Hall, and trombonist Sun He -- founder of the Beijing chamber group Ultimate Brass -- who recently completed an 85-performance cross-China tour of the musical Wicked.


Prof. Jeffrey Grogan made his debut last month as OCU’s director of orchestral activities, conductor of the OCU Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras. His quarter-century of experience includes serving as the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s education and community engagement conductor and as conductor and artistic director of the Greater Newark Youth Orchestras, the InterSchool Orchestras of New York, and the New Jersey Youth Symphony. After his OCU podium debut, he flew to Thailand to be featured conductor at the International String Festival in Bangkok, Sept. 25-30.

Recent international performances and educational outreach by Dr. Sergio Monteiro, director of piano and Steinway Artist, include a three-day music intensive of master classes for private teachers and professors from Qingdao University, organized by alumna Chrystal Chen, a summer concert series in Rio de Janeiro, and the Oct. 8-14 International Chamber Music Festival in Ouro Branco, Brazil! He kicks off our 2017-18 Distinguished Artists Series Nov. 12 with a salute to titans of the piano. On the program: works by Francis Poulenc, Domenico Scarlatti, Sergei Prokofiev, Johannes Brahms, and Frédéric Chopin.

Drs. David Herendeen, award-winning director of opera and music theater, and Outstanding Faculty winners Edward Knight, director of music composition, and David Steffens, director of percussion, marked their 20-year anniversaries on the OCU faculty.

Prof. Lisa Harvey-Reed, principal oboist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, has retired from academia after 20+ years on the OCU faculty. Her legacy continues with the appointment of her successor -- Katherine McLemore, an alumna of Harvey-Reed's studio and fellow Philharmonic oboist -- as our new oboe instructor.


Composer Jay Wadley, former president of Project 21: Music for the Twenty First Century and co-founder of Found Objects Music Productions, received the firm's first national CLIO Awards win for original score at an awards ceremony at Lincoln Center.

Tenor Robert Watson made his Wagnerian debut as Erik in The Flying Dutchman at Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he has also performed as Ismaele in Nabucco, Grigori in Boris Godunov and Bois-Rose in Les Huguenots.

Mary Beth Nelson, featured this summer as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in The Glimmerglass Festival's production of Scalia/Ginsburg: The Opera, which was attended by Justice Ginsburg, is now performing as a Young Artist at Florida Grand Opera.

Alumni currently performing on Broadway include Darius Wright, formerly of the international and national tours of Matilda The Musical, in A Bronx Tale; Abby C. Smith making her Broadway debut in Sponge Bob Square Pants the Musical, with opening night Dec. 4; Elliott Mattox in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and Wes Hart and Molly Rushing continuing their run in Anastasia. Colin Anderson will make his Broadway debut in the 2018 revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel; scheduled to open April 12. He is currently featured in the off-Broadway hit Sweeney Todd, which stars fellow alum Eryn LeCroy as Johanna.

Alumni on national tours include Heather Botts as the Anna Leonowens understudy, Manna Nichols as Tuptim, Nicole Ferguson in the Ensemble, and Jerry Steichen, conductor, and Kate Moore in the North American tour of Les Miserables; James Shackelford in The Little Mermaid; and Keslie Ward as Liesl in The Sound Of Music.

Benjamin Camenzuli will be featured in the Canadian production of Grease, opening Nov. 1 at Toronto's Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres.

Among 2017 graduates, Miss New Mexico Taylor Rey advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 Miss America Pageant. Stephanie Feeback, featured this spring as Reno Sweeny in Anything Goes, is performing this month in the North American premiere of From Here to Eternity. As part of its development path to Broadway, lyricist Sir Tim Rice is collaborating with the Ogunquit Playhouse creative team on the work, which is based on the award-winning novel and movie.

Benjamin Nilles was appointed interim conductor of the University of Minnesota Duluth Symphony Orchestra. He is also music librarian with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and artistic director/conductor with the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra.

Courtney Kalbacker -- producer, coloratura soprano, and managing director of Baltimore Concert Opera -- was appointed to the music faculty at Towson University.

The goodwill musical tour of China with alumni Kyle Dillingham and Peter Markes was featured on the front page of Oct. 11 editions of The Oklahoman. Their band, Horseshoe Road, performed at the Silk Road Festival in Xi'an and the Silk Road International Cultural Expo in Dunhuang. It was Dillingham's 12th visit to China, and his mission remains the same: "If I'm a brother or sister with someone, we're much less likely to be adversaries. We're less likely to be at war. We're more likely to share a meal. So, how do we synthesize that for our friends in Oklahoma? That's what we have to figure out.”

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