By Craig Manning
Miller Plaza is the heart of Western Michigan University, with a major performing arts center (Miller Auditorium), a lofty high-rise housing everything from departmental offices to a café (Sprau Tower) and a gorgeous fountain that brings students out in droves every time the weather warms up.
Miller Plaza is also the home of the Dorothy B. Dalton Center, the Richmond Center and the Gilmore Theater Complex three buildings which house most of the school’s illustrious College of Fine Arts.
The college, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, encompasses a comprehensive music school, an acclaimed theater department, an eclectically-driven visual art institution and one of only 60 programs in the country accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance. WMU’s College of Fine Arts is a force to be reckoned with, providing a daytime home for 1,200 full-time arts majors, as well as educational, performance and entertainment opportunities for the rest of WMU’s student body.
According to Concerts Office representatives Kevin West and Meredith Bradford, WMU’s School of Music has an exciting calendar in store for the coming school year. The renowned Gold Company program is part of the Music School’s Jazz Studies program, consisting of two of the most highly regarded jazz choruses in the world.
“Participation in Gold Company and GC II is open, by audition, to any WMU student, regardless of year or major” said Steve Zegree, the program’s internationally renowned pioneer. “Details for auditions can be found on our website, at www.wmugoldcompany.com.”
While the Gold Company program will remain as active as ever, with a collaborative concert alongside the New York Voices and the Miller Show on the schedule, it will, for the first time ever, do so without Zegree at the helm. Zegree, a member of the School of Music faculty since 1978, recently accepted an offer to teach at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
“I am honored and excited to join the faculty at the Jacobs School of Music and humbled to serve as only the fourth director of the Singing Hoosiers, an ensemble with a storied tradition and legendary past,” Zegree said in a recent press release announcing his appointment to the IU faculty.
“I also look forward to working with both undergraduate and graduate students in the pursuit of musical excellence and achieving high artistic standards in the contemporary and popular vocal/choral arts, as well as vocal jazz,” Zegree said.
Despite loss of the educator, the show must go on. The theatrical axiom could be a motto for Jay Berkow, the head of Western’s musical theater program, who has big plans for the upcoming school year.
“I was thrilled to come to Western almost nine years ago, to do both big, commercial musicals, and lesser known, less often produced musicals,” Berkow said. “Also, as always, I’m just really excited about coming back to school, rolling up sleeves and working with my students. We have an amazing set of fresh
men coming in and bringing new abilities and talents, and our seniors are ready to go and join all of the recent alumni who are working on Broadway already.”
For more information about the WMU College of Fine Art, its various divisions, or upcoming events, visit the website, at www.wmich.edu/cfa.