Working in the Arts: MTD Alumni News, November 2016

Working in the Arts: MTD Alumni News, November 2016
OU pride in Maria Turchyn's new classroom - photo courtesy of Maria Turchyn

Maria (Suvak) Turchyn (BM ‘16) has just launched her teaching career. She accepted a position teaching elementary general music at Roy Elementary in Roy, WA. Turchyn wrote, “I’m so grateful for the mentors I've had supporting me during this process.” Although she’s on the other side of the country, Turchyn took her Grizzly memorabilia with her, as you can see in this photo.

Emily Maas (BM ‘16) also began her first teaching job this fall. She accepted a position at University Prep Science and Math School in Detroit as their high school music teacher.  Mass wrote on her social media page, “ I will be teaching guitar, piano, general music and composition in a technology driven setting, which I am excited for. Thanks to all who helped me get to this point. First year of teaching let's go!”

Isaac Boehnlein (BM ‘16) has accepted his first teaching position in the small town of Wakefield, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He’ll teach music to all students, kindergarten through twelfth grade. On his social media page Boehnlein wrote, “I'm excited about the opportunity and am looking forward to the move!”

Voice alumna Victoria Pace (BM ‘16) has begun classes at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she is pursuing a masters in voice performance.

Hannah Bossner (BM ‘16) spent three weeks in July as one of 36 pianists accepted to attend the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival in Tampa, FL. “It was full of daily lessons, masterclasses, lectures and recitals,” said Bossner. She is now pursuing an MM in piano performance at Bowling Green State University. Her teacher at OU was Dr I-Chen Yeh.

Regan Tackett (BM ‘16) has just begun her graduate studies as a voice pedagogy major at the Ohio State University. She wrote on her social media page, “I am thrilled to announce I will be performing the role of Second Woman in Ohio State's production of Dido and Aeneas, as well as the role of Queen of the Night for Opera Columbus's outreach production of The Magic Flute! Very excited to have such a productive (and fun) beginning to graduate school.”

Mark Hosseini (BM ‘16), has just started his graduate studies in voice performance at the Eastman School of Music. He recently announced on his social media page that he will be performing the bass solos in Bach's Mass in B minor and Parts II & III of "Christmas Oratorio" with the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and Eastman School Symphony Orchestra. He’s also been cast as Pandolfe in Massenet's Cendrillon with Eastman Opera Theatre. “I am incredibly blessed,” he wrote, “and I am excited to continue learning this amazing music.”

Paul Abdullah (BM ‘09 in piano performance and BA ‘09 in French language and literature ) was recently both “proud” and “hugely relieved” to share the news that he had passed his doctoral qualifying exams with honors at Case Western Reserve University, where he is working on a PhD in historical musicology, researching opera in nineteenth century France and Italy.

Susanna Allen (BFA ‘11) moved from New York City to Chicago at the end of summer with fellow alum and husband Peter Giessl (BFA ‘11). Susanna started grad school at DePaul University College of Education.  The couple have reconnected with OU friends in their new city.

Esau Pritchett (BA ‘99) may be one of our most prominent theatre alums and he has been especially visible recently. He had a featured role in the much-talked about HBO limited series The Night Of. Pritchett also appeared on season four of the popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black and he has revealed that he is scheduled to play a role in a new Marvel Series show on Netflix next year. A nondisclosure agreement forbids him from saying more, but as soon as we have the information, we will share it!

You may have seen a performance by Guy Louis Sferlazza (BA ‘91 in music) this summer or fall. On October 22 he appeared at Meadow Brook Theatre as part of their Children’s Series with his Dracula Sings Elvis Monster Mash show! During the school year he stays very busy giving educational music presentations at elementary schools in Michigan and beyond. His most recently developed program is “Introducing Children to Relaxation,” which represents a synthesis of his interactive musical performance style and his passion for helping young people learn the art and science of relaxation. When school is out, he performs family musical concerts in the community as Guy Louis and the Chautauqua Express, which he started back in 1986. Sferlazza began college as a computer science major but realized very quickly that music was his true path. There is more detail on his website.

Jaclene Wilk and Cara AnnMarie at
the premiere of Liberty's Secret

New York City based Jaclene Wilk (BFA '15) was back in Michigan in September for the premiere of the movie musical Liberty's Secret which opened at The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor before playing at film festivals in the US and Germany. Wilk plays one of the leads, alongside University of Michigan alumna Cara AnnMarie. Wilk plays Liberty Smith, the daughter of a prominent conservative preacher involved in the political scene, so it’s rather inconvenient when the two women fall in love. Wilk spoke to Radio WWJ about the movie just before the premiere.

Lauren Wainwright (BFA ‘12) who is based in New York City, joined Festival 56 for their summer season just outside Chicago. She played Perdita in The Winter's Tale, Young Violet in Violet, Laurie in Brighton Beach Memoirs and a Hot Box Girl in Guys and Dolls. After heading home in August she joined Torn Out Theatre's all-female production of The Tempest as composer and musician for the show, which played for free in Prospect Park in early September. “The company is well-known for celebrating the female form and normalizing women's bodies through the use of mostly nude actors,” Lauren said, “but probably I will wear clothes. I can't wait to begin rehearsals and be a part of a production that's so empowering to women.”  Keep up with Lauren’s work on her website.

Singer/songwriter Kaitlyn Barbee (BFA ‘16) just moved to Nashville, TN where she plans to work on her music and singing career. Kaitlyn already has an album named Blue available on iTunes and Spotify. This summer one of her songs was on the website of Detroit’s Country music station WDRQ-FM, as a finalist in a competition to sing in a high-profile Nashville concert. At the time of writing the results are still not settled. We’ll keep you posted. You can follow Kaitlyn’s work on her website.

Theatre alumna Anetria Cole (BA ‘09) is continuing to enjoy success with her play Bronzeville Gold, which has been performed as far afield as New Jersey. This fall, a ten-minute version was one of six plays in a showcase production by the newly formed Black and Brown Theatre company, a grassroots project advocating for work created, directed and performed by theatre artists of color. It was performed at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum on October 30. Cole originally wrote the play in Kitty Dubin's Advanced Playwriting class here at OU.

OU theatre alumna G. Louise Cooper (BFA ‘14) spearheaded the creation of The MicroMacro Art Biome, a pop-up art gallery in downtown Detroit which featured the work of 16 artists and artistic groups from seven different countries, many of them with OU connections. For a weekend in October the multi-disciplinary gallery showcased film, dance, portraiture and installation, all specially created for the Biome, with theatre professor Jeremy Barnett acting as project manager.

Among the alumni participating were theatre alumna Gina Smothers (BFA ‘13) as co-founder of Amarant Design Collective, which has a number of OU students and alumni as associate artists. Dance alumni Tess Keesling (BFA ‘16) and Vivian Costello (BFA ‘12) teamed up with photographer/videographer Sam Paraventi of Minty Photography on a mixed media “dance for the camera” project. Current BFA acting student Lucy Price exhibited her work, and OU dance company in residence Take Root performed, under the artistic direction of dance professors Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz.

"RAIN" - Amarant Design Collective's installation at
ArtPrize in Grand Rapids - photo by Jeremy Barnett

Gina Smothers and Amarant Design Collective also had an installation at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids this year. They exhibited “RAIN” at the City Water Building operated by the Richard App Gallery. Tess Keesling also participated in this project.

Theatre alumna Luciana Piazza (BFA ‘15) has completed her apprenticeship at the Purple Rose Theatre Company and been cast in two shows at the Encore Musical Theatre Company in Dexter, MI: The Full Monty, through September and October, and Mary Poppins, opening November 25 and running until the end of December. This last show will be choreographed by another OU alum, Rachel Hull (BFA ‘14). Luciana also had a role in the independent film Liberty's Secret, which premiered September 22, and she continues to explore voice-over opportunities. You can follow Luciana on her website and find ticket information for Mary Poppins on the theatre’s website.

New York City-based theatre alumnus David Vogel (BFA ‘13) is about to begin a national tour with Annie. He announced on his social media page that he is the Male Swing, and for anyone not sure what that means he explained, “The male swing is there in case any of the male ensemble performers aren't able to perform, so I have to know all of their material and be able to go on for any of them.” The show will be in Detroit at the Fox Theatre on February 17 and 18, 2017, and at Kalamazoo's Miller Auditorium on February 16, 2017. Ticket information is on the tour’s website.

We’re happy to share news of other theatre alumni who have been busy this fall. Devin Price (BFA ‘15) spent much of the fall in Austin, TX, where he appeared in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at the Zach Theatre.  Sam Rohloff (BFA ‘13), who has been touring the country with Kinky Boots, joined the Tokyo cast in October.  Olivia Griffin (BFA ‘16), newly arrived in New York City, appeared off-Broadway in The Folk Singer at The Theater for the New City throughout October. And our distinguished Tony Award winning alumna Jayne Houdyshell is continuing her run in the play The Humans, which won the Tony for Best Play this year. Houdyshell was interviewed recently in America Magazine and spoke about the Academy of Dramatic Art at OU and Meadow Brook Theatre.

Lindsay Chirio-Humenay (BA ‘12) was featured in an article that ran in both the Macomb Daily and the Oakland Press. Chirio-Humenay said her Oakland professors pushed her to pursue greatness and offered her advice and opportunities. For two seasons she apprenticed with Eisenhower Dance, a contemporary dance company founded by OU professor emerita Laurie Eisenhower, and later accepted an offer as a full-time company dancer. With Eisenhower Dance she holds residencies in schools and universities around the state, and participates in dance performances throughout Metro Detroit.

Daniel Walshaw (BM ‘06) recently returned from South Africa where he worked as artistic administrator of the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, and has taken a position with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. He serves as Executive Assistant to the Music Director Rossen Milanov, and helps with artistic planning, donor relations and general upkeep for the orchestra.

Matt Wagner - photo courtesy of Diavolo Dance Theater

Bridget Dennis (BM ‘13) was a vocal music education major, and later took a graduate degree in arts administration at Boston University Metropolitan College. She’s now the operations manager for Cantata Singers and Ensemble in Boston, MA. She’s also a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and in October the chorus joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra to sing what Bridget called “the incomparable Brahms Requiem.”

Finally, out in Los Angeles, dance alumnus Matt Wagner (BFA ‘15) has joined the tour company of DIAVOLO after a season as an apprentice with the DIAVOLO Institute. The company announced his debut performance on September 22 and referred to him as a “rising star!” Unfortunately the tour won’t make it to Michigan this year. Wagner says the nearest venues will be in Connecticut and Maryland. If you’re willing to travel, we’re sure it’s worth the time. The show looks awesome.

Alumni, send us your news! gellis@oakland.edu