The Singing Life at Oglethorpe ♪♫

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The 2013-2014 University Singers pictured in the new Turner Lynch Campus Center.

The first time I visited Oglethorpe I was nervous beyond belief. I was auditioning for a choral scholarship and I had no clue what Oglethorpe would be like. I had taken the tour online and thought it was gorgeous. But, I was just not sure about what the campus atmosphere would be.

Dr. Irwin Ray

Dr. Irwin Ray

I auditioned with Dr. W. Irwin Ray, earning myself a $500 conditional scholarship and I joined the University Singers as an alto. I have come a long way from that nervous high school senior. I have sung in the alto section for three years now and I am in my fourth and final year in the University Singers.

I have many wonderful memories of the singers but my favorite part is our concerts. We work hard to bring songs together and present them to the public. We have sung some hilarious pieces such as the folk song “I Bought Me a Cat” and pieces that are more recognizable like the “Les Miserables” medley we sang in the spring. Every year, the Boar’s Head Concert is a fun way to combine celebrating the winter season and our student organizations on campus. This concert is, in many ways, one of the more interesting events on campus throughout the school year and my favorite concert of the year. (After singing a variety of seasonal pieces, a feast is held in honor of our friend, the boar, who choked down more than he could chew when a student saved himself with his Aristotle book…or so the legend goes.)

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

The Singers is filled with hard-working, multifaceted students. I’ve watched Kyle Brumley ’12 go from being an actor in Oglethorpe theater productions to becoming a leading man in Atlanta theater. I’ve heard beautiful music composed and produced by John Burke ’11 on Pandora Internet radio. And I’ve watched Samantha Flynn ’14 revive the student newspaper. All of these students also served as section leaders.

Dr. Ray helps students who work hard to learn and improve. As I mentioned, I started out with a conditional scholarship at $500. I have currently doubled my scholarship and taken away the conditional status of it as well. Hard work pays off in the University Singers and it helps students experience a different side of the Oglethorpe University education.

So, I hope you will come see (and hear) us in action. Join us for the Singers’ Fall concert, this Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe. The concert is free and open to all.  You can also follow us on Twitter!: @oglesingers or on Facebook: Oglethorpe University Singers.

Watch the Oglethorpe University Singers perform the national anthem at the Feb. 2013 homecoming basketball game:

 

OU Students Play a Part in Georgia Shakespeare’s “Metamorphoses”

Kristin Butler '14 performing in Metamorphoses

Kristin Butler ’14 performing in “Metamorphoses”

Oglethorpe University theater students have the exceedingly rare opportunity to be a part of theater at the professional level—right on their own campus. As part of the decades-long partnership between Georgia Shakespeare and Oglethorpe, students are invited to compete for scholarships that provide not only financial assistance, but also the privilege of interning with the company during their junior year.

This summer, Georgia Shakespeare scholar Kristin Butler ’14 is taking full advantage of her internship. Butler captured a role in the production of Metamorphoses and credits her scholarship from Oglethorpe as the stepping stone for getting this rare opportunity.

“I don’t see how I would have had this opportunity without the scholarship,” said Kristin. “I feel prepared after having these experiences.”

Working with past Georgia Shakespeare scholars and her fellow OU thespians has shown Kristin that the Georgia Shakespeare experience is just as much the Oglethorpe experience. She says it’s exciting “to see people in an academic environment, and then see how they take the same education I have, and see how they act in a professional environment.”

metamorphoses_georgia shakespeareNot only are Georgia Shakespeare scholars active and involved, but several other Oglethorpe thespians are taking part in the summer fun, too. Antonio Mantica ’15, Laura Roberts ’15 and Lilly Romestant ’14 aren’t right in the spotlight this time, but they’re still bringing their talents to “Georgia Shakes”. Lilly is perfecting her assistant directing skills, while Antonio and Laura run the front-of-house operations.

Take the time to go see our students in action by catching Metamorphoses at the Conant Performing Arts Center, but move quickly—the run ends this Sunday, July 21!

Pursuit of Passion: Musical Performances at Oglethorpe

Dr. Ray leads the musical accompaniment at Oglethorpe's 2012 Commencement.

Dr. W. Irwin Ray, director of musical activities, shines as a source of inspiration for his students. His love for the arts is evident, and he hopes to instill in his students a similar passion.

“I think everyone needs to figure out what they love daily,” he says. “If you’re passionate about doing something, you will do it well…”

His own passion propelled him to pursue a career in music and to dedicate himself to advancing students’ education and music appreciation.

“I really believe in our school,” said Dr. Ray, who teaches music classes and conducts the University Singers and Chorale. “This where I need to be and where I want to be… I feel like I’m making a difference in (students’) lives.”

Dr. Ray also leads the effort for Oglethorpe’s music programming, finding outside professional groups to perform on campus. He brings these musicians to campus in part to inspire his students and give them the opportunity to hear a variety of music, courtesy of bands, orchestras, opera companies and more.

“We try to look for programs with connections to majors, preferably Core,” said Dr. Ray. “I make sure they all meet the highest standard of quality… Many classes build their lectures around the performances.”

One such performer was alumnus John Burke ’11, whom Dr. Ray describes as “amazing.”  Thanks to Dr. Ray’s efforts to find these performers, 70% of music students, such as John, continue to embrace music in their post-grad lives.

This month, Dr. Ray has invited two stellar acts to the Oglethorpe campus: the Atlanta Concert Band and the Capitol City Opera. He describes the Atlanta Concert Band as being “for band music what the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is to orchestral music,” and adds that “the Capitol City Opera is a (local and inexpensive) showcase for good people in Atlanta… it has a great reputation.”

In order to encourage these musicians to perform, Dr. Ray has adopted a process of co-sponsorship. This means that performers are given a discount to use the Conant Center for Performing Arts in exchange for allowing the Oglethorpe community to listen for free (with a Petrel Pass!). On May 4, 2013, Georgia Philharmonic will also be on campus as part of a co-sponsorship, and Dr. Ray has more plans in the works, including an international music presentation.

“These performances help (advance) education,” said Dr. Ray, “and build a really great experience and public image… I believe that a university should offer a wakening of not only learning but lifelong passions.”

Be sure to come out to the Atlanta Concert Band’s performance on March 9 in Conant at 8 pm, and attend the Capitol City Opera performances on March 15 and 16 at 8 pm, and March 17 at 3 pm, also in the Conant Performing Arts Center!

Oglethorpe’s New “Short Courses” Are Long on Fun & Learning

OU shook things up this semester by adding a variety of short courses that focused on fun topics and experiences. Many students took advantage of the 13 one-time learning and recreational experiences, mostly taught by Oglethorpe staff.

This semester’s short courses have explored interesting topics like “How to Survive in the Woods…in a Hammock” with  Jon Nooner, technical director for the Conant Performing  Arts Center, and “Extreme Couponing” with Bre Berris, director of Greek affairs.  Students indulged their sweet tooth with Kim-Marie John, Emerson Cafe’s baker, in a short course that introduced the art of decorating your own cupcake. Residence Life Coordinator Alyssa De Gazon led a short course discussion about the The Hunger Games book series. Students also toured Elm Street Gardens, a two-acre community organic garden, founded by alumnus Robert Currey, which provides food for hundreds of families in Hancock County, the poorest county in Georgia.  Students also gathered to learn “Sign Language: 50 words you need to know”, a short course taught by Jay Gardiner, OU’s athletics director (pictured above). Gardiner shared his knowledge in a fun and interactive environment that left the students asking for more.

The short courses were so popular that there are already plans for them to return in the fall semester.  The Office of Campus Life invites students to submit ideas for short courses. If there is a skill you would like to learn—or teach—send your suggestions to Kendra Hunter at khunter@oglethorpe.edu and the Office of Campus Life will do their best to make it happen!

OU students toured a two-acre organic community garden founded by OU alumnus Robert Currey.

2012 Symposium Spotlights Oglethorpe Students’ Academic Accomplishments

On Tuesday, the OU community gathered  for the 2012 Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium to celebrate the academic achievements of our students. The annual event provides OU students with a platform to present their own work—and fellow students, faculty, parents, and staff take the opportunity to learn more about the various topics, support the presenters, and engage in passionate discussions. Nearly 200 students presented during more than 30 sessions about topics drawn from a wide variety of disciplines.

We asked students Joscelyn Stein, Dayana Diaz, and Weston Manders to give us their thoughts about the Symposium:

This year’s topics ranged from “The Homeric Hero: What Winston Churchill and Odysseus have in common…or not” to “Mosquito in the Room: America’s Cuban Obsession and the Need for a New Era of Cuban-American Relations,” to “The Evolution of Fairies in Literature: From Oral Folk Tales to Peter Pan” and “The Benefits of Cooperative Interspecies Evolution: Why Would you have a Dog?”

A new addition to the day-long event was StoryCore, where students from the OU radio station video recorded students and faculty sharing “OUr Core moments,” reflections on the Core Curriculum. Oglethorpe’s Core Program helps shape our academic community and is regularly the focus of shared stories. Many of us have our “Core moments”—when something we encounter reminds us of something we learned in a Core course, when ideas are suddenly are connected. The collection of 90-second videos will be posted on the StoryCore page over the next few weeks. Here’s the first StoryCore video in the series, by Chelsea Reed ’13, a Communications and Rhetoric major.

Also new to the Symposium this year was an “Homage To OUr CORE in Poetry and Creative Verse.” The poetry slam/creative word jam took place in the Lupton Auditorium and gave a stage to students and faculty to share their poetry, spoken word and freestyle compositions, penned in honor of our Core Curriculum. The friendly competition chose winners in a few categories:

Judges’ Choice: Kaci Palmore
Most Creative: Chou Thao
Connection to Core: Will Carter

The day-long celebration of student achievements ended in the Conant Performing Arts Center with the annual Honors and Awards Convocation, which recognized individuals who had excelled during the academic year. Congratulations to all of the honorees!

View photos from the 2012 Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium!