Message from the Dean
“I am most grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this extraordinary institution…It has been an honor!”
“Passing the baton” is a particularly apt turn of phrase for transitions in our field. I remember being present at the 1977 (yes, THAT old) press conference when Antal Dorati ceded the music direction of the National Symphony to Mstislav Rostropovich. Dorati acknowledged “I don’t have his youth,” adding “but then, he doesn’t have my age.” That’s happening here at SMTD, as I write my last Michigan Muse letter and pass the baton to my successor. It means stepping away from a number of cherished projects from the last decade, and a number of future opportunities for the School about which I am enormously enthusiastic. I take deep satisfaction in knowing that these opportunities and projects—along with many we haven’t even thought of yet—will be realized in the period ahead.
I’m delighted to be handing over the reins to Aaron Dworkin. It was just shy of 20 years ago, while a violin student at Michigan, that Aaron had an idea for increasing the representation of African-Americans and Latinos in classical music. Thanks to his passionate belief in the project, his entrepreneurial and fundraising acumen, and his unwavering commitment to an artistic and humanistic vision—emblematic of the skills and values we hope to instill in all our students—Aaron created the Sphinx Organization, a great champion for diversity in the arts. Now, Aaron returns to the place where his internationally celebrated career commenced. He will bring to SMTD the same energy and excitement that has made Sphinx such a respected institution in the arts world.
As for me, I plan to be around the University, working on campus-level matters of interest, notably planning for the bicentennial and various interdisciplinary initiatives, and helping at the School in any way I can. I also intend to spend more time than in many years on my own projects—including my longstanding resident ensembles at the Smithsonian Institution and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC—and in long-deferred time with my wife Susan and rapidly dispersing family.
If anyone should wonder about the unprecedented experiment of a top-ranked performing arts program at the world’s greatest public research university, I invite them to consult our alumni: never has there been a more universally enthusiastic affirmation and demonstrated affection for an alma mater than I have continuously experienced among our Michigan alumni. I am most grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this extraordinary institution, and am happy to move on to my next chapter with the knowledge that, working with an incredible staff, outstanding faculty and wonderful colleagues across the campus, amazing students and fabulously generous donors, I have been able to contribute a decade to this great school’s historic trajectory. Together, we have significantly improved the School’s physical environment, enhanced our students’ international opportunities, launched important initiatives such as the Gershwin Critical Edition project, reached over 80 percent of our campaign goal, engaged the campus and nation in interdisciplinary curriculum and collaborations via Arts Engine and the Alliance for the Arts at Research Universities, and much more. It has been an honor!
Christopher Kendall, Dean
Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
In this issue
100 Years of Theatre & Drama
In the fall of 1915, the first for-credit course in play production was offered to students at the University of Michigan, making U-M the first university in the country to offer theatre production classes for credit. The class culminated with a single performance of The Servant in the House, by Charles Rann Kennedy. With this…
Creating the 21st Century Artist
Hector Flores Komatsu hadn’t planned on spending last summer in Paris. The theatre directing major was wrapping up his sophomore year at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance in April when he received a call telling him that he had been selected for a paid internship with Théâtre de la Ville, a celebrated French…
Behind the Curtain
Though they rarely step into the limelight, theatre directors, producers, stage managers, agents, and designers of all iterations comprise the engine that keeps theatre running. For decades, alumni of SMTD’s Department of Theatre & Drama have been successfully filling those roles on and Off-Broadway, in regional theatre companies, and on national tours. Now, as the…
A Cinderella Story
When you’re a graduate of one of the top musical theatre programs in the country, it’s not uncommon to find yourself cast with another alum in the same Broadway production. But in the case of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, it’s been a veritable School of Music, Theatre & Dance reunion. Nine Department of Musical Theatre…
Ann Arbor Dance Works Celebrates 30 Years
Thirty years ago, the Department of Dance received a dynamic surge of vitality and creativity when three new faculty members were recruited by Professor Gay Delanghe: Bill DeYoung, Jessica Fogel, and Peter Sparling. All three artists had been enjoying successful careers in New York City, and were eager to join forces in their new academic…
Filling a Void Through Music
Ryan Hourigan, director of the Ball State University (BSU) School of Music, is on a mission that began when he was a music education doctoral student at Michigan. “I was teaching trumpet lessons in Chelsea and met a kid named Jacob,” said Hourigan. “He had traumatic brain injury syndrome but was a great player, though…