Oxford resident Robert Skylis was recently recognized with Oakland University’s MaTilDa Award for Outstanding Student in Voice Performance (undergraduate).
Every spring, Oakland University (OU) music, theatre and dance professors recognize distinguished students, alumni and community members with MaTilDa Awards, which are named to honor Matilda Dodge Wilson who donated the land on which OU stands.
Skylis, who recently received a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from OU, minored in music and practiced vocal music.
“It came as a big surprise for me,” Skylis said. “They’ve never given this award out to a business major so it came as a complete shock. It’s definitely an honor to have received such an award. I feel like it’s a testament to the work that I’ve put in since I’ve been here at Oakland University. I’ve definitely taken advantage of every opportunity while I was here.”
Skylis studied music at Oakland University with Drake Dantzler, an opera performer and assistant professor of music and voice, over the last four years.
Throughout his time at Oakland University, Skylis said he has bloomed as a vocal musician “in every, single way.”
“My level of artistry has vastly expanded and the way I approach learning music, as well as the way I practice learning new opera roles,” Skylis said. “The way I view performance has changed completely. I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles since I started here. It’s made me a better overall performer, actor and singer.
As Skylis leaves Oakland University behind and steps into a full-time position at a local software company, he said he plans to keep honing his skills as a vocal musician and hopes to someday make a living as a professional opera singer.
Skylis is off to a great start, as he was recently accepted into a selective international music program in Austria called AIMS Graz.
On top of getting accepted to the vocal program, Skylis was also awarded the Dorit Hanak Operetta Scholarship for Tenor by AIMS Graz, which will cover the entire cost of the program, with the exception of travel fees.
AIMS is an intensive six-week summer program in Graz, Austria which prepares young musicians for the professional life as a performer. It offers programs for Voice, Piano and Orchestra.
Skylis said he will continue auditioning for new opera roles, shows and local singing groups.
“I plan to keep studying with my voice teacher, developing my technique and just do as many competitions as I can… It’s a tough world and to break into opera and make a living is no small feat. But I plan to take all the opportunities I can,” Skylis said.