Working in the Arts: MTD Alumni News, July 2017

Working in the Arts: MTD Alumni News, July 2017
Headshot of S Alex Ruthmann
S Alex Ruthmann

S Alex Ruthmann (MM '02; PhD '06) was recently promoted to the post of Director of Music Education at New York University's Steinhardt School where he is associate professor of Music Education and Music Technology. In his role as director of the NYU Music Experience Design Lab, he recently collaborated with the New York Philharmonic's digital, archival and education departments to design and launch a series of interactive musical "Variation Playground" apps to accompany the Philharmonic's famous Young People's Concerts. Apps for works by Britten, Mendelssohn and Dvorak are currently available on the Design Lab’s website. Another app on the site, GroovePizza, was nominated for the inaugural 2017 Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Award by the National Association of Music Merchants at their annual conference in Los Angeles.

Ruthmann recently presented keynote addresses at major music education conferences in Norway and Australia, and he co-edited two major research handbooks: the Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education (Oxford University Press, 2017) with Roger Mantie, and the Routledge Companion to Music, Technology, and Education (Routledge, 2017) with Andrew King and Evangelos Himonides.

The OU Alumni Association has chosen soprano Jacquelyn Wagner (BM ‘03) to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for her outstanding professional achievement. Wagner’s very busy schedule in Europe’s opera houses included her debut in a leading role at La Scala in Milan this spring. “Congratulations to Edie Diggory, John-Paul White and all who served as Jacquelyn’s mentors when she was an undergraduate voice performance major at OU,” said Jackie Wiggins, chair of Music, Theatre and Dance. The awards will be presented at the annual Alumni Awards Banquet on Friday, October 13, 2017 during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. This year's event will be held at Meadow Brook Hall, in honor of OU's 60th anniversary.

Theatre alumna Lauren Knox (BFA ‘12) will direct the first play of the season for Purple Rose Theatre Company this fall. The Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage, written by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, will run from September 28 to December 16, 2017. Knox joined the Chelsea-based company as an apprentice after she graduated from OU, and it was a perfect fit from the beginning. Purple Rose has produced her work; she has performed, and she directed The Odd Couple, her first mainstage show for the company, during the 2015-2016 season.

Cáitlín Burke on stage at the Kennedy Center
Cáitlín Burke on stage at the Kennedy Center. Photo by
Jillian Jameson.
The cast of Camelot dressed in costume, on stage. Front row, Luciana Piazza (3rd from the left), Maria Reed (4th from the left). Back row, Billy Robinson (1st from the left).
The cast of Camelot: Front row, Luciana Piazza (3rd from
the left), Maria Reed (4th from the left). Back row, Billy
Robinson (1st from the left). Photo by Michele Anliker

Alumna Cáitlín Burke (BM ‘01) is still on tour with The Sound of Music, directed by three-time Tony Award winner, Jack O'Brien. The show had a five-week run at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C. from June 13 until July 16. Burke went on as the Mother Abbess for six shows in late June. We heard her rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” brought down the house!

Closer to home, Luciana Piazza (BFA ‘15) who played Lady Sybil in the Encore Musical Theatre Company's production of Camelot, was singled out by David Kiley in his review of the show. In addition to reminding readers how wonderful the Lerner and Lowe score is, he was full of praise for the acting, with Piazza admired for her "strong turn." Alumni Maria Reed (BFA ‘17) and Billy Robinson (BFA ‘17) were also in the cast.

Theatre alumnus Tony Edgerton (BA ‘08) played the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria, AZ in early summer, and in August, with a little help from the OU network, he’ll make his international debut in Ontario, Canada playing the same role for Drayton Entertainment. The production company’s artistic director Alex Mustakas contacted Associate Professor of Theatre Fred Love recently and recounted his troubles finding the perfect Beast. Love told him about Edgerton and put the two in contact with each other. The Drayton Entertainment production of Beauty and the Beast will play at two of the company’s seven theatres, at the Huron Playhouse in Grand Bend, Ontario in August, and at the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge, Ontario during the holidays.

Professor Love said the Beast needs great acting skills so he can portray the character’s transformation, as well as a classically trained voice. And he needs to be at least six feet tall and handsome! Drayton Entertainment, for whom Love has worked on more than 20 shows, is the third largest theatre company in Canada after the Stratford and Shaw Festivals.

We were excited to see dance alumnus Matt Wagner (BFA '15) appear on America's Got Talent with his LA-based company DIAVOLO in early June. We won't keep you in suspense! They made it through to the next round. You can watch their sensational, innovative performance on YouTube. The company will be performing and competing in the live rounds sometime in July. As soon as we know the date we’ll post in on our Facebook page.