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The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

A grand night for singing

On Sunday, Oct. 3, at 4:00 p.m. at Hill Auditorium, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance begins a new tradition, an annual showcase for the wealth of singing that goes on at the University of Michigan.

Hosted by Melody Racine and Daniel Washington, voice faculty at the School, the evening will feature some 350 singers, drawn from the University Chamber Choir, Jerry Blackstone, conductor, the University Choir, Paul Rardin, conductor, Orpheus Singers, Jason Harris, doctoral choral conductor, The Men’s—Paul Rardin—and Women’s Glee—Julie Skadsem—Clubs, SMTD musical theatre (Brent Wagner, director), and opera departments (Joshua Major and Robert Swedberg, directors).

The impressive gathering of voices will manifest itself in the form of choirs, soloists, chamber and early music ensembles, opera, and musical theatre, with selections drawn from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, the musical Into the Woods, choral selections by Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, and Mendelssohn, solos by Debussy, early music by Monteverdi.

Open to the public — in other words, it’s free.

— Betsy Goolian

U-M grad’s solo show at legendary gallery

Through 6 November, Patrick Hill’s (BFA ‘96) solo show “dirty little stones” is at Susanne Hillberry Gallery in Ferndale.

For more information, please visit Susanne Hillberry Gallery.

Dramatic rise

U-M graduate James Wolk (BFA ’07 in theatre) is featured in “Lonestar,” Fox network’s new one-hour drama that premieres this month.

Set in Texas, the show is about “a good-looking, charming, charismatic con artist who also happens to be a bigamist.” Yes, that’s Wolk, in the lead role of Robert Allen. He was most recently seen in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s “Front of the Class,” about a young man with Tourette’s syndrome. Lonestar will also star Adrianne Palicki of “Friday Night Lights,” Jon Voight, and David Keith.

At left, Wolk appears with Rachel Soglin in U-M’s production of “The Cradle.”

Please click on link below to read a Boston Globe article on Wolk:

Healthy games

The University of Michigan 3D Lab will work with School of Medicine Researchers to develop a gaming application for people with spinal cord injury (SCI).

The project, whose principal investigator is Michelle Mead, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, has been awarded a $600,000 3-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Beginning October 1, the 3D Lab will work with Professor Mead to develop an electronic gaming application for the iPod Touch designed to facilitate skill development, to enable those with SCI to better manage their health, and interact more readily in home, health care, and community environments.

The project represents the emerging field of “serious games”—that is, games designed for purposes other than entertainment—and is tailored to the preferences and learning styles of 16- to 24-year-old boys and men with SCI. This is the first funded grant use of the Motion Capture System in the 3D Lab.

The U-M 3D Lab, which is part of the University of Michigan Library, is a service facility that specializes in cutting edge technology and expertise for the entire U-M community.

For more information, contact Eric Maslowski, manager of the 3D Lab, at

Express challenge

Chris and Lisa Van Allsburg, friends and graduates of U-M’s School of Art & Design, have created the Van Allsburg Undergraduate Scholarship Challenge Match.

For every dollar given to A&D’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, the Allsburgs (see left) will give a dollar, up to $200,000, which, in effect, doubles the amount of a donation. The goal is to meet the Van Allsburg’s challenge by end of June 2011. In most cases, scholarships will help A&D students to enroll or continue their education.

“This Scholarship Challenge is an opportunity to support students who have a gift and help them to become part of that special group that brings beauty into the world,” said Lisa Van Allsburg.

Van Allsburg, a ’72 U-M graduate, majored in sculpture, and went on to earn hismaster’s degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1975. He is known foremost, however, as one of America’s preeminent authors and illustrators of children’s books. Two of his books — Jumanji (1982) and The Polar Express (1985) — were awarded the Caldecott Medal; each were also adapted into major-studio films.

His books have been cited as reflecting a “brutal irony” of a fantasy world where characters must deal with uncontrollable events. The themes sometimes explore the darker side of human nature, and blend an engaging fantasy landscape and poignant narrative structure with a chillingly clear moral.

Van Allsburg’s distinctive illustrations evoke a child’s perspective, sometimes drawn as if from a child’s height. Some critics have noted that the perspective helps adult readers to reimagine the world from a child’s physical viewpoint.

U-M grad wins National Poetry Award

The National Poetry Series has officially announced the results of the 2010 Open Competition. C.S. Giscombe selected Laura Wetherington‘s manuscript A Map Predetermined and Chance for publication by Fence Books in the fall of 2011.

Wetherington, a Virginia native, is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA program, UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate English Department, and Cabrillo College. She co-founded and co-edits : an online journal of experimental poetry and sound. She teaches creative writing at both Eastern Michigan University and in University of Michigan’s New England Literature Program.

Founded in 1998, Fence is a biannual journal of poetry, fiction, art, and criticism that has a mission to redefine the terms of accessibility by publishing challenging writing distinguished by idiosyncrasy and intelligence rather than by allegiance with camps, schools, or cliques. It is part of the press’s mission to support writers who might otherwise have difficulty being recognized because their work doesn’t answer to either the mainstream or to recognizable modes of experimentation. Fence Books is an extension of that mission. Launched in 2001, Fence Books publishes poetry, fiction, and critical texts and anthologies.

The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to ensure the publication of five poetry books annually through participating publishers.  Publication is funded by the Lannan Foundation, Stephen Graham, Joyce & Seward Johnson Foundation, Glenn & Renee Schaeffer, Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds, and, the Edward T. Cone Foundation.