Once a Singer, Always a Singer
The University of Maine Singers is a select choir whose members come from all disciplines across campus. Nearly half of its members are from areas outside of music. Under the direction of Fran Vogt, the University Singers perform multiple concerts on campus throughout the academic year, tour New England for one week each spring, and perform abroad every four years. Auditions, open to any student, are held at the start of every fall semester.
University Singers is listed as MUO 101 and can be taken for either 0 credits or 1 credit.
Rehearsals are Mondays from 3:10-4pm and Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-4pm.
If you would like to get in touch with University Singers or make a monetary donation, please contact Kayla Gayton at email@example.com.
Director, Francis John Vogt
Francis John Vogt, is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Maine, where he conducts the University Singers and Oratorio Society, and teaches voice and choral conducting. He is the music director of the critically acclaimed chamber choir EUPHONY, comprised of University of Maine alumni, faculty and students. The Orono based ensemble specializes in 20th and 21st century choral repertoire. Recently Vogt was assistant professor at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa where he taught Choral Music, World Music, and Western Music History.
In 2006 he was named Music Director of the Dubuque Chorale, only the second person to hold that title in its 35-year history. He has been a guest conductor, choral clinician and adjudicator in Maine, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas. He received degrees in Vocal Performance from the Hartt School of Music and the State University of New York College at Fredonia, and did his doctoral work in Choral Conducting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
He has performed, recorded, and toured nationally and internationally with the Dale Warland Singers and the Gregg Smith Singers and has sung professionally with many renowned conductors, including Robert Shaw, Robert Craft (with whom he recorded two discs in that conductor’s complete Stravinsky cycle), Edo de Waart, Hugh Wolff, Robert Spano, Maria Guinand, and John Finney. Additional performing credits include appearances with Garrison Keillor, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Ohio Light Opera, the Connecticut Choral Artists, the Connecticut Opera, the Maine Shakespeare Festival, the Penobscot Theatre, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Maine, and Blue Hill Bach. This spring he will make his debut with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra both as the tenor soloist and as the chorus master, preparing the University Singers and Oratorio Society.
Gwendelyn Ruby Hill
Accompanist, Dr. Laura Artesani
Dr. Laura Artesani is an Associate Professor in the School of Performing Arts at the University of Maine, where she teaches music education and music history courses and supervises student teachers. She serves as piano accompanist for the University Singers, and performs frequently in faculty and student recitals. She is the faculty advisor for the UMaine Collegiate Chapter of NAfME, and is a member of the Executive Board of the Maine Music Educators Association.
Dr. Artesani graduated summa cum laude from Barrington College in Rhode Island with a B.M. in Music Education, and received a M.M. in Piano Performance from the University of Maine. She earned a D.M.A. in Piano Performance from West Virginia University, where she was the recipient of the Swiger Teaching Fellowship for four years. She has completed Level I-III of Orff Schulwerk Training, and is the recipient of a research grant from the American Orff Schulwerk Association. Articles that Dr. Artesani has written or co-authored have appeared in the Journal for Music Teacher Education, The Orff Echo and General Music Today.
In addition to her duties at the University of Maine, Dr. Artesani is also the organist/pianist at the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono. She has taught at the Lincoln School in Providence, RI; North Orrington and Center Drive schools in Orrington, ME; and the Stillwater Montessori School in Stillwater, ME.
Conductor Emeritus, Dr. Dennis Cox
Dr. Dennis K. Cox received a B.M.E. in Vocal Music Education from the University of Nebraska, the M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Colorado, the M.A. in Music Education from West Virginia University, and the D.M.A. in Choral Conducting from the Conservatory of Music of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Prior to assuming his position as Director of Choral Activities in 1978 at the University of Maine, Dr. Cox was Assistant Professor of Music at Salem International University in West Virginia, and taught vocal music in Colorado and Nebraska. Dr. Cox is a frequent guest clinician who has conducted festival choruses in 26 states, Canada, and Europe.
For 37 years, Dr. Cox, or DC as his Singers, colleagues, and friends have come to know him, directed the University Singers. Known for his emotional and passionate approach to music, he developed a choir to be more than just an ensemble and shaped people to become more than just singers. Upon his retirement, DC selected his dear friend, Fran Vogt, to become the new director of University Singers. Dr. Cox is still active in the School of Performing Arts and can often be seen around campus or sitting in on a Singers rehearsal.
In 2014, The Dr. Dennis K. Cox University Singers Fund was established to support the ongoing funding needs of the University Singers.
Alumni Memories and Stories
I chose to come to U Maine as a voice major after having Dr. Cox as my NH All-State Conductor ’84. The long drive up to Orono, a place I had to look up on a map to find, had me convinced I would never go there. Then I got on campus, sat on the mall and felt at home! Singers was my family for my college career and some of my favorite memories and best friends to this day. Blitzkrieg, tour memories, Jabberwocky and just having Singers to end my day with, every day was the best part of my college days. Singers went to my small HS when I was a sophomore and made me feel like a rock star. Later, they came to the first HS I taught at and made me s star with my students.
Dr. Cox has been my mentor since day one. He inspired me to be a conductor, a teacher and to inspire kids to be their best. 25 years later, I’m still teaching (now in Colorado) and still use D.C.’s warm-ups although I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as at his analogies, but I do try!
When I went to graduate school at the University of Oregon I was so excited to be part of their University Singers and I hoped to find the spirit and friendships that we had at UMO. It wasn’t there. It was just a class, and didn’t have the soul or social mentality that I so loved about Singers. I am lucky enough to sing in a choir in Denver, Kantorei, that reminds me of Singers. It can’t be the same as a college ensemble and we are all older now with families and “life” but I do know how rare it is and I cherish it.
Some of my favorite memories: The guys, dropping their tux pants to their crazy boxers at the end of Jabberwocky and making D.C. turn red. The crazy tour diary that was passed on the long bus rides where everyone added on to the crazy story being woven. Europe ’88 and our crazy bus driver, Dirk. He pretended not to speak English and rolled his own cigarettes while driving on the narrow, winding roads through the alps! Halloween parties, Jabberwocky props, “Why don’t we do it on a Skittah” and other tour bus songs, and especially D.C.’s crazy analogies!!
My advice to you is to treasure your time as a Singer. Enjoy all that college brings you and study hard! You’ll look back on this time with fond memories and be amazed at how much you have changed since freshman year! As my own children are about to head to college, I can only hope that they find somewhere as special as U Maine was to me!
Jason Wright ‘95, Tenor II
I can’t claim to have had an extensive vocal background before entering UMaine. In high school, I had filled my schedule so much with instrumental ensembles that in only one year was I able to sing in the chorus, much less any select ensembles. When I decided at to become a Music Education major at Maine, after two years undeclared, I’m afraid, I decided that I should become as involved as possible with vocal ensembles to make myself more marketable after graduation. My first two years, I had been aware of the University Singers, and was impressed by their recordings, but they were not on my radar screen in terms of having an interest to try out.
Once I made the decision to become involved in vocal ensembles, I did try out. The result was predictable, as I was not selected. After all, I had some work to do; I needed to learn how to be a part of a select vocal ensemble. I worked diligently at that by participating in the Collegiate Chorale and the Oratorio Society (plug for those ensembles) as well as taking a semester of Voice Class. I continued to make progress and luckily, halfway through my fourth year, there was a mid-year opening as a tenor was going off to student teach. I auditioned well enough to receive the construction paper note notifying me that I was then (and always) a University of Maine Singer.
That semester, Dr. Cox was on sabbatical and the ensemble was being led by Richard Nickerson of Windham High School. I was impressed by the teamwork displayed by the ensemble and enjoyed the work of rehearsal. One footnote, is that was the semester that 1993 Men’s Hockey Team went on to win the NCAA title. I was also a member of the Screamin’ Black Bear Pep Band (plug for that ensemble as well) whose policy was that to be in the playoff band, you had to have perfect attendance for a certain set of games. Some of those games fell during Singers’ Tour and so yes, I gave up my chance to be there in person when the hockey team finished their 42-1-2 season to be in Singers and it’s a decision I would make again.
My stay in Singers was relatively short as I participated through my fifth year and I planned to do student teaching during my sixth and final year. I decided that I would give my replacement the pleasure of participating the whole of that year and not have to join the group midstream as I had done, so I left the Singers after three semesters.
I recognize that this testimonial is to be posted on the Singers’ web site for potential future singers to read so I do have to advise them to necessarily be like me. Don’t take six years if you don’t have to, that gets expensive. However do persevere and if you don’t initially pass the audition, take advantage and have fun in the other fine ensembles UMaine has to offer, and be a good teammate. Your opportunity may well arrive. Also if you stay in Maine after graduation, take advantage of the slogan, “Once a Singer, always a Singer.” Since graduation, I have attended several alumni receptions at Homecoming, took part in a Reunion Concert celebrating Dr. Cox’s thirtieth year as conductor (the current group continues its excellence under the baton of Professor Francis Vogt) and this past summer attended a Singer’s reunion in Southern Maine. The memories last a lifetime.
Jocelyn Emery ’09, Alto 1
To be honest, the whole reason I came to UMaine was because of University Singers. Singers came to my high school when I was a freshman and I was blown away. I HAD to be a part of that group! My high school dream of being a University Singer came true in the fall of 2004 when I was woken up early one September morning to a catastrophic ruckus at my door. In my sleepy, confused state I opened the door to a crew of smiling faces saying, “Congratulations, Jocelyn! Welcome to University Singers!”
The five years I spent at UMaine flew by and I was so blessed to be a part of Singers and Renaissance for the duration of my college years. Thinking back on the Northeastern Tours, singing at Carnegie Hall in NYCand traveling to Italy in May of ’08 brings the most magnificent smile to my face.
Now that I have moved on from UMaine and am out in the “real world”, I realize how much I took for granted while I was in college; that I was a part of not only an amazingly talented group of singers, but also wonderful people and friends. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of University Singers and I am confident that years from now I will look back on my college days and think, “‘Twas brillig…”
Some special memories: Jeff Hollowell running across the stage with a fake tree during the women’s piece at a spring concert, gatherings at 191 Center, watching Renaissance kick butt in ICCA’s, walking through lemon orchards in Sorrento, laughing till my sides hurt.
If you would like to submit a quote or share a story/experience from your time in University Singers, please email the text to Andrew Cloutier along with your name, graduating year, and voice part.
The University of Maine Foundation exists to encourage gifts and bequests to promote academic achievement, foster research and elevate intellectual pursuits at the University of Maine in Orono and other charitable organizations. The University of Maine Foundation manages an endowment—a collection of hundreds of individually named funds that are invested for growth—and annually distributes earnings providing private support as determined by our donors for University programs, students and faculty.
The University of Maine Alumni Association is one of the oldest alumni groups in the U.S. They are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Buchanan Alumni House in Orono, ME, at the entrance to the University of Maine campus. Their main purpose is to use their communications and programming to engage alumni and encourage them to share in UMaine’s future success.
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Support University Singers
The financial needs of the University Singers are ever growing. While University support and grassroots fundraising efforts are a major part of our monetary foundation, outside support is crucial to ensuring that the University Singers can continue their goal of making beautiful music, shaping lives, and representing the University of Maine all over the world.
Below are three ways that you can help support the University Singers. For more information contact Andrew Cloutier, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The University Singers tour regionally once a year and abroad every four years. In addition to travel expenses, there are everyday operating expenses associated with a large ensemble such as this. Your gift to the University Singers Gift Account helps to ensure that we have the resources needed to meet our financial needs today.
To support the immediate needs of University Singers, click the button below and complete the field labeled University Singers.
The Dr. Dennis K. Cox University Singers Fund is an endowed fund that was established in the University of Maine Foundation in 2013 for the benefit of the University of Maine University Singers. Income from the fund will provide unrestricted support for the University of Maine University Singers at the discretion of the Director of the Singers. There is a 25% matching gift component on this fund for the first $50,000 raised by December 31, 2017.
To provide long-term support for the University Singers, click the button below and complete the field Other Fund Not Listed Here. In the description box please indicate Dr. Dennis K. Cox University Singers Fund.
There is almost always a fundraiser occurring or in the works within University Singers. To see what fun and unique support opportunities are happening now, just contact us!