OU alumna uses fellowship to explore a new world of music

The Rasmuson Foundation Artist Fellowship is awarded yearly to deserving artists who are interested in focusing on their creative work. This year’s $18,000 fellowship was awarded to Oakland University alumna Dolores Catherino.

Catherino graduated from OU in 1986 and now lives in Anchorage, Alaska, which has had a huge impact on her work. 

“Living in Alaska, I am surrounded by nature,” she said. “The mountains and ocean inspires me to always listen to my surroundings.”

She grew up in Rochester Hills and cites Steve Baker, her Rochester High School band teacher, for helping her develop her ear. Since graduating, she has focused her career on musical technology and its developments.

“In an era of musician-less electronic dance music and hip-hop, I hope to be able to inspire the next generation of musicians to explore far beyond the chromatic conventions of the 20th century,” Catherino said in a statement to OU.

The fellowship will allow Catherino to upgrade the equipment she currently uses and also expand her audience.

“Nearly all the music you hear uses a 12 pitch musical language,” she said in her TEDxSacramento talk. “I’m exploring what it could sound like on a wider scale.”

The Rasmuson Foundation was founded in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson. The foundation works to improve the state of Alaska through means such as art, culture and social services. The fellowship is granted to “mid-career or mature artists to focus their energy and attention for a one-year period on developing their creative work,” according to the Foundation’s website. The fellowship is always granted to citizens of Alaska in order to encourage creativity among the community.

Catherino cites former OU professor, David Daniels, as a mentor and inspiration to her musical career. Daniels taught at Oakland for 28 years and was the chair of the department of music, theatre and dance.

Believing that society has exhausted the idea of 12 pitch music, Catherino is seeking to expand.

“I’ve always been aware of my sonic environment,” Catherino said. “I think that greater development of our ability to hear more notes and how they interact in harmonic configurations will change how we understand and create music in the future.”

The Rasmuson Foundation Artist Fellowship gives creative members of the state of Alaska an opportunity to focus on their craft. Catherino has expressed her gratitude for receiving the award and plans to use it to attend an international conference and further her ideas on polychromatic music.

More information about Dolores Catherino and her work can be found on her website.