OU announces partnership with DSO

Starting in September, a new partnership between the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Oakland University’s Music Preparatory Division will offer students the opportunity to study with professional musicians in world-class facilities.

Oakland University has had DSO musicians as faculty for a number of years, including French horn player Corbin Wagner and clarinetist Doug Cornelsen. The new partnership will help bring OU’s Music Preparatory Division’s efforts to Detroit.

Charles Burke, director of education and outreach for the DSO, credits much of the partnership to the orchestra’s ties to OU music education professor Jackie Wiggins.

“We’ve always had a good relationship with the department of music, theatre and dance, especially professor Jackie Wiggins,” Burke said. “We decided cultural institutions and institutions of learning need to work together to have the kind of impact that creates a vibrant cultural community.”

The university’s Music Preparatory Division, headed by director Bibianne Yu, began in 2002 and offers programs for students from ages as young as 18 months to students in their 80s. The division also began on campus but has since expanded to also include instruction in the Bloomfield Hills School District, the OU-Macomb campus and now the Pincus Music Education

Center adjacent to the DSO Orchestra Hall.

Through the partnership, OU and the DSO hope to give music students the most comprehensive education possible.

“OU will offer private lessons and college-level courses, while they can get their ensemble training in the same facility through the DSO,” Burke said. “Ultimately, our goal is to create a continuum of learning for families in metro Detroit and surrounding areas.”

The two organizations hope to also provide a more well-rounded experience for current DSO Civic Youth Ensemble students. As part of this, the Music Preparatory Division will offer a music theory course at Pincus, where rehearsals for the Civic Youth Ensembles are held.

Yu stated that music educators in the metro Detroit area from Lake Orion to Detroit itself have expressed interest in enrolling students in the theory class.

An additional element of the partnership still being discussed is the potential for private lessons taught by DSO musicians.

The Music Preparatory Division’s programs run from Sept. 13 to Dec. 19 and will include a collaborative concert between the OU Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Choir at Orchestra Hall.

Burke said in addition to creating an all-inclusive musical education environment, he hopes the partnership will draw attention to the cultural community in Detroit.

“In order to get a complete education experience, students should take part in these cultural institutions,” he said. “It’s a very rare situation to have so many cultural opportunities in one spot like we do in Detroit.”