OU Chorale to ‘paint it black’ and gold with The Rolling Stones

By: Anthony Spak

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might get to sing alongside The Rolling Stones.

“The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” have invited the OU Chorale to perform with them at their upcoming concert on Wednesday, July 8 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

As part of their 15-city ZIP CODE tour, The Rolling Stones are inviting local choirs to join in singing duties at each show, according to Pioneer Press.

Dr. Mike Mitchell, associate professor of music and conductor of the OU Chorale, will be leading the group in rehearsals and onstage for the big gig. Mitchell said the band reached out to him in late March.

“OU has one of the really top-notch choir programs in the Midwest,” Mitchell said. “We were selected because they were looking for a really good college choir in the Detroit area.”

The set list for the upcoming concert is confidential due to a contract with the band. The Chorale was provided with sheet music from the band to practice before the show, but Mitchell was not able to comment on what material was included and what songs they will sing during the concert.

Despite the privacy of the preparations, Mitchell is still excited for the show.

“It’s a really cool moment for Oakland and choir students,” Mitchell said in his office in Varner Hall before a rehearsal for the concert. “It’s a real honor to be invited by the Stones.”

Brittani Hall, a recent 2015 graduate and former vocal performance major, used to perform with Mitchell in University Chorus.

“I had to do a double take but I wasn’t surprised,” Hall said, reflecting on the first time she saw the announcement that the Chorale would be singing with the Stones. “I was always hearing about the amazing opportunities that were offered to the Chorale like touring the country to perform and having famous composers come here to work with us.”

At age nine, Mitchell remembers discovering the Stones and has been a fan ever since, with “Monkey Man” and “Gimme Shelter” standing out as two of his favorite songs.

A love for rock n’ roll has stuck with Mitchell through the years and has transitioned well into his teaching career. When he’s not on the podium conducting, Mitchell also teaches MUS200, History of Rock and Roll, a class he invented in 1999.

“I love this music and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Mitchell said.