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


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 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 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 350/550) 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 University Choral & Vocal Events

Oakland University Honors Vocal Day
Saturday, October 28, 2017
For more information and to nominate students, please visit

University Chorus and Oakland Chorale
St. Irenaeus Catholic Church
Friday, November 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm
On the heels of a triumphant summer tour of Europe, the Oakland Chorale returns for one of our most popular events of the season. They are joined by the University Chorus for an inspiring and energetic concert, featuring an eclectic repertoire. 
Michael Mitchell, conductor. 
$8 all seats
Click here to purchase tickets.

Opera Workshop
Varner Studio Theatre
Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm
The Oakland University voice students present an evening of beautiful operatic scenes featuring music from across the genre.
Free admission

January 9, 2018 at 7:30 pm; January 11, 2018 at 7:30 pm; January 13, 2018 at 7:30 pm; January 14, 2018 at 3 pm;
Join us for the romantic comic opera Martha by Friedrich von Flotow and enjoy a performance filled with beautiful music, charming choruses and timeless operatic confusion. Martha tells the tale of Lady Harriet Durham and her maid Nancy, who disguise themselves as peasant women only to find they don't like the country life. Must they also leave behind the two young farmers they met?                                                         Click here to purchase tickets 

University Chorus and Oakland Chorale
University Presbyterian Church
Friday, March 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8:00 pm
In one of our most popular events of the season, OU’s nationally recognized choral program presents an inspiring and energetic concert, featuring an eclectic repertoire. 
Michael Mitchell, conductor. 
$8 all seats
Click here to purchase tickets.

Opera Workshop
Varner Recital Hall
Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Oakland University voice students present an evening of beautiful operatic scenes featuring music from across the genre.
Free admission

Oakland Symphony Orchestra with the Oakland University Symphony Chorus 
Orchestra Hall - Max M. Fisher Music Center
3711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Join us at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall for Oakland Symphony Orchestra’s final concert of the season. The orchestra will perform Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland and A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46 by Arnold Schoenberg, with John-Paul White, narrator. They will be joined by the Oakland University Symphony Chorus for Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Melissa Maloney, soprano; Alta Dantzler, mezzo soprano; Drake Dantzler, tenor; and John-Paul White, bass
Gregory Cunningham and Michael A Mitchell, conductors. 
$20 general, $10 students 
Click here to purchase tickets.

Oakland University Bands

Oakland University Wind Symphony

The Wind Symphony (MUE 331) 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. F ormer 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 329)
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 Associate Director of Bands, Dr. Jeffrey Heisler, performs concerts on the Oakland University campus with repertoire drawn from the finest of contemporary and traditional band literature.

Oakland University Brass Band

Founded in January of 2010, the newest instrumental ensemble on Oakland’s
campus is the Oakland University Brass Band (MUE 374). Under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Kroesche, this traditional British brass band enjoys an active performance schedule, and was recently named the 2010 Winner of the National Brass Band Association competition (Section Three) held in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Golden Grizzlies Band

Comprised of over 100 students from the Oakland University campus community,
the Golden Grizzlies Band (MUE 332) performs at many university activities, including all Oakland University men’s and women’s basketball games. The Golden Grizzlies Band travels with the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s teams for annual conference tournaments and post-season play. In 2010, the Golden Grizzlies Band accompanied the men’s basketball team to the first round of the NCAA conference tournament (Western Region) in Milwaukee, WI. The Golden Grizzlies Band is under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth Kroesche.

Oakland University Chamber Orchestra and Ensembles

University Chamber Orchestra

Founded in January of 2010, the University Chamber Orchestra (MUE 376)
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 380, section 001)
Flute Ensemble (MUE 372)
Clarinet Ensemble (MUE 380, section 002)
Saxophone Ensemble (MUE 371)
Percussion Ensemble (MUE 373)
Guitar Ensemble (MUE 370)
Steel Band (MUE 346)
African Ensemble (MUE 345)

Oakland University Jazz
The Oakland University Jazz Program provides many opportunities for students. Our Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combos, and Contemporary Music Ensemble 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 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. View the OSO page for more information.

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.

Click here to learn about the new Master of Music in World Percussion Performance degree.


Piano Studio
The study of piano at Oakland University pairs talented young musicians with renowned  Oakland University keyboard program
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. 

Meet our Keyboard Faculty
Dr Tian Tian  began her piano training at the age of four in her native China. Upon arriving in the United States, she studied with Logan Skelton and quickly began amassing top prizes at national and international competitions. These included 2nd prize at the MTNA Baldwin Junior High school Piano Competition, 2nd prize at the Cooper International Piano Competition (Oberlin), 1st prize at the Idyllwild Arts Academy Young Artist Competition, 2nd prize at the Missouri Southern International Competition, and 3rd place at the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition. 

She continued her training at the Juilliard School, where she received B.M. and M.M. degrees under the tutelage of Robert McDonald. In the fall 2011 Tian completed a D.M.A. in Piano Performance and Literature with a minor in Chamber Music and Accompanying at the Eastman School of Music where she was a student of (and served as teaching assistant to) Nelita True. Dr. Tian maintains a busy performance schedule in the U.S and abroad. Solo appearances have included music festivals such as Piano Texas, the Gilmore Festival, and Summer Courses with Arie Vardi (Germany). Recent concerto appearances included the Windsor Symphony and the Idyllwild Chamber Orchestra. As a member of the Studzinsky Trio, she has recently performed in the U.S., China, and Korea.

Since 2011, Dr. Tian has taught at the University of Missouri. Her students have repeatedly performed well in competitions and festivals. Since 2008, she has returned to China annually to present concerts, lectures and master classes, which have earned her the title of Honorary Professor at Shandong Normal University and Yunnan Institute for the Arts (in 2008), Shaoxing Academy of the Arts (2009), Weifang Academy, Mudanjiang Teacher’s University, Ludong University, Qufu University (2010), Qingdao University (2012), and Shandong University of Technology (2015). 

Dr. Rebecca Happel
, applied piano instructor, coordinator of accompanying, and chamber music
instructor, has performed as a soloist, duo-pianist, and collaborative pianist in the U.S. and Becky Happelin Europe. She is a frequent performer in chamber music recitals, on series including the Scarab Club and Meadow Brook Music Society Concert Series. Dr. Happel also teaches as part of the applied piano faculty at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she studied with the late Gyorgy Sandor, protégé of Bela Bartok. She also studied piano and holds certification from the Music Conservatory of Vienna, Austria. She trained in opera coaching at DePaul University, with renowned conductors Eduardo Muller and Jeffrey Tate. A frequent lecturer and adjudicator throughout the State, Dr. Happel also is coordinator of Oakland University’s annual Piano Day which attracts students across the State for mini diagnostic lessons and competition opportunities. Her students have won competitions and scholarships in the U.S. and abroad.

Piano Programs
Bachelor of Music in Performance — Piano
Designed for students who wish to perform at the professional level. With the guidance of artist faculty, students receive intensive performance experience in private lessons, master classes, and ensembles. Many graduates of this program go on to the nation's finest music schools to pursue graduate degrees and receive additional training.

Master of Music in Performance — Piano
Requires admission into the Graduate School. Students interested in this program must be able to demonstrate exceptional musical and technical skill on their chosen instrument. Admittance is contingent upon a successful audition and interview with members of the applied faculty.

Master of Music in Pedagogy — Piano
This program enables music education professionals to expand and extend their expertise in music and music education. Program plans are designed to meet students’ individual needs and interests. Courses are offered in evenings and summers to accommodate professional schedules. Students have opportunities for study, performance, research and apprenticeship.