deanpixA couple of years ago on a grey Sunday afternoon, Nancy Schneider and I drove to Marygrove College on  “official” business – to audition a new member for the Royal Oak Musicale.  Little did I know that this unusual audition would introduce me to an outstanding and exciting chamber music group, and an extremely charming lady and musician. . . our “Member in the Spotlight” . . . LILLIAN DEAN.

Born in Chicago, Lillian began playing clarinet in fifth grade.  She graduated from Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota) with a degree in art history and then received her M.S. degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin/Madison.  

 In 1979, Michigan offered jobs to Lillian and her “bassoon-playing” husband, Walter; and they moved to Huntington Woods, bringing Lillian closer to her parents’ home in Bloomfield Township.

By day, Lillian coordinates the Healthy Lawns and Gardens Program for SOCWA, the Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority.  Her part-time work includes Master Composter and Tree-keeper training classes, public seminars, numerous volunteer involvement projects, coordination with landscapers, and more.  If you want to learn something about composting, rain gardens, or environmental lawn care  – ask Lillian!

When not biking or gardening, Lillian is very active in the music-scene of our tri-county area:  she played ten years with the Scandinavian Symphony, and now performs with the Warren Concert Band, the Royal Oak Symphony (8 years), and is a co-founder for the six-year-old Woodward Corridor Musicians (the ensemble that was performing at that Sunday afternoon audition.)

I asked Lillian what inspired her love for chamber music, and she answered, “the interaction between the performers and the audience.”  This aspect of their performance was palpable at my initial WCM concert – and their interest in connecting with their audiences is written into their mission statement:  The WOODWARD CORRIDOR MUSICIANS have organized to present chamber music concerts to the diverse communities living in the Woodward Corridor, from downtown Detroit, through the connecting suburbs, to Pontiac.  The group’s mission is to create a musical environment in which urban and suburban communities will enjoy coming together.

Lillian ‘passed’ her audition with flying colors and Royal Oak Musicale has enjoyed her music-making along with members of the WCM, including, husband Walter, and we look forward to her performing again for us.  If you would like to hear the Woodward Corridor Musicians, check out their concert schedule at