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  • Arreon Harley-Emerson
    Director of Music and Operations, Cathedral Choir School

    Arreon Harley's (MM Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance, 2012) first encounter with Dr. Paul Head and the UD Chorale was during 2010 at a performance in Philadelphia. He didn't know then how the lessons he learned at UD would impact his career path, but he's incredibly grateful for the time he spent here, and students at the Cathedral Choir School of Delaware, where Harley has been director of music and operations since 2013, reap the benefits as well.

    Harley values the hands-on experience he had here, with opportunities to fully run rehearsals and podium time with our choirs, but he says the best lesson was actually as much psychological as musical. Working with Dr. Head, Harley learned that, "Getting people to buy in and understand that the reason people want to join choirs is more than music." The communal experience of choral singing is a vital aspect to Harley's work at the Choir School.

    The Cathedral Choir School of Delaware began in 1883 in the tradition of Anglican choir schools: a choir of prepubescent boys singing sacred choral works for services at the Cathedral Church of St. John. Eventually, the choir expanded to include adult men and women as well as girls, and in the 1990s the directors began reaching out to the local community, inviting neighborhood kids to join the choir and offering them music lessons. In 2007, they implemented the Mentoring Academy, enriching the whole child through homework help in math, reading and study skills.

    In 2012, the Choir School moved to the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, and when Harley came on board in 2013 he began expanding the programming and more fully integrating the music, academic support and mentoring. Currently, more than 100 students receive support in lessons, tutoring and even transportation, and about 50 of them sing regularly with the choir, which still includes adult members. Prior to the 2012 move, the choir sang exclusively for church services. Under Harley's leadership, the choir now performs every week at venues throughout the area and has expanded their repertoire to include secular works and pieces from diverse cultures and traditions.

    These weekly performances have increased the Choir School's visibility, but also serve as an additional growth opportunity for the students. "You only know what you know," Harley says. "Travel is transformative. I want the students to see what is possible for them outside of their own neighborhood." Some of the choir students have never left Wilmington, and Harley has taken them on their first visit to Philadelphia, or the beach – an experience they would never have had if not for the Cathedral Choir School.

    Find out more and see the <a href="" target="_blank">performance schedule</a>.

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  • Diane Jones
    Composer and Radio Host

    By the time Diane Jones (BM Composition ’06) started her undergraduate program at UD she had already enjoyed career success in the business world. By the time she left, she knew that no matter what happened next, any future job had to be musically related.

    Jones completed a MM from Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University, where she was awarded a Billy Joel Fellowship in Composition, and then she began working for WCNY radio, part of central New York’s public broadcasting system. At first, Jones worked part-time filling in when another host was out, which allowed her to learn all about radio – different time slots and different areas. During these years she also spent time composing and performing whenever she could.

    Jones wanted to create her own show, something at WCNY, but also something that could go beyond and eventually be syndicated to public radio stations around the country, and Feminine Fusion was born. Feminine Fusion explores women in classical music. According to Jones, the ‘fusion’ comes not from a blend of musical styles, but from the many ways women influence music. “It is what women do and how they influence – how the create, perform and inspire.”

    Jones grew up with a houseful of brothers, and in her first career had learned to stand up for herself and not be afraid to ask difficult questions and dig deep to find answers, so she didn’t immediately concern herself with gender bias in the music world.  “Ten years ago I paid no heed to bias,” Jones says, “but the farther I got into classic music the more I saw the need for a show like this.” She explains that as recently as 2013 Vasily Petrenko of the National Youth Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic said that, “a cute girl on a podium means that musicians think about other things,” and in 2014 Finnish conductor Jorma Panula claimed that women can only conduct “feminine” music like Debussy or Ravel.

    Since the program’s debut this fall, episodes have focused on female composers such as Clara Schuman and Julia Wolfe; teachers like Nadia Boulanger; young female composers; music written by men to honor the women in their lives; and all-female chamber groups. Feminine Fusions airs on Sunday afternoons on WCNY, and can be live streamed from their website

    Find out more about Diane Jones, including her compositions and upcoming performances, on her Facebook Page, Pet Dragon Music.

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  • Natasha Stollmack

    ​Natasha Stollmack recently completed her first year of studies at SUNY Stony Brook toward a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance. She currently serves on the faculties of Joyous Music School (Hicksville, NY), Grace Music School at Steinway and Sons (Melville, NY) and Herald Music School (Flushing, NY). This summer, she will serve as faculty for the 4th Jiafeng International Summer Music Course in New York, ending with a solo performance at Carnegie Hall. Natasha will also perform at the Festival Internacional de Guaranda in Quito, Ecuador.

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  • Justin Grunes
    Musician, US Marine Corps

    ​Justin Grunes serves as the clarinet instructor for the Naval School of Music, Virginia Beach, VA, training entry and advanced-level musicians of the Navy and Marine Corps for service in our fleet bands. He has served as a military musician for nearly 16 years between the Marine Corps and the Delaware Army National Guard, the latter of which while a student at UD.

    “Studying at UD, not just as a music major but as a university student, significantly enhanced how I approach my craft as a military bandsman and especially in my current position as an instructor at the Naval School of Music. I credit the university’s outstanding staff and faculty and ample opportunities for performance in shaping my understanding of how music ties into our culture at large, the different ways it impacts our lives, and how to communicate the musical language. Without a doubt, what I learned on and off stage at UD has set me up for success in my career as a professional musician, and it has given me absolute joy performing and teaching even in the most trying of circumstances.”

    While at UD, Grunes participated in Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, UD Opera Theatre, the Clarinet Studio, Jazz Ensembles and a Wind Quintet.

    His performance highlights as a student include a MENC performance in Providence, Rhode Island, and ClarinetFest at CSU Northridge. He was also a member of the Wind Ensemble during Robert Streckfuss' final year and for his retirement concert.

    His military career includes active and reserve duty with 4 Marine Corps fleet bands and the 287th Army Band, DE National Guard with performances in Japan, Iraq, California, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina, New Orleans, Nashville, Hampton Roads, and Delaware.

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  • Ian Passmore
    Associate Conductor, Omaha Symphony

    Ian Passmore began his own conducting studies at the age of 10 and has steadily risen in the conducting world ever since that young start. Fanfare magazine describes Passmore as “a rising young conductor,” one who “…doesn’t press forward with unneeded aggression.”

    In April 2019, Passmore was named assistant conductor ofthe Omaha Symphony, where he previously served as the symphony's assistant conductor. In his role, Passmore is responsible for leadings concerts in the areas of education and community engagement, including the symphony's Concerts for Youth, Link Up, Celebrate Creativity and Mission Imagination.

    Prior to his appointment in Omaha, Passmore served as associate instructor of orchestral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he led the IU All-Campus and Conductor’s Orchestras, taught all levels of conducting, and organized the day-to-day activities of the Orchestral Conducting department. Passmore is a passionate advocate for music education and conducting pedagogy, and he has worked with student instrumental and vocal ensembles, as well as conductors, throughout many parts of the world. Most recently, Passmore was invited as a guest conductor and visiting professor at the Vietnam National Academy of Music in Hanoi. While there, he led daily masterclasses and orchestra rehearsals, culminating in a performance with the Hanoi Philharmonic. Passmore was also the 2015-16 Schmidt Conducting Fellow with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, for whom he provided service as a cover conductor and worked with their annual high school Side-By-Side program.

    Passmore studied conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (DM), University of Delaware (MM), University of North Carolina (Post-Bachelors), and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (BA). His principal conducting mentors were David Effron, Arthur Fagen, James Allen Anderson, Tonu Kalam, and the late Robert Gutter. Passmore is an active member of the League of American Orchestras, Conductors Guild, and the honors music society Pi Kappa Lambda. Passmore enjoys spending his free time traveling and biking with his fiancée, and fellow conductor, Dianna Fiore. They are the proud owners of two miniature long-haired dachshunds: Beethoven and Charlie.

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  • Samantha DeLuca
    Band Director, Newark Charter School

    ​Samantha DeLuca has been a band director at Newark Charter School since 2010. She has taught grades 4-12 and currently serves as the middle and high school band director teaching grades 7-12.

    Most recently, the Newark Charter School high school band traveled to London where they marched in the 2019 London New Years Day Parade and performed a concert as part of the London Concert Series.

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  • Ashley Snyder Gulyas
    Music Teacher, Eagle Hill School

    As Ashley Snyder Gulyas (BM '09) learned how to teach music as a student at UD, she also learned how to adapt music and teaching music to special needs students.

    Gulyas participated in a summer service learning project with Suzanne Burton, professor of music education and interim associate dean of the arts, working at the John G. Leach School in New Castle, Del. The Leach School serves students with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and serious health impairments.  Gulyas later presented her work at a Delaware Music Educators Association conference.

    It's no surprise, then, that after graduating from UD, Gulyas was hired as the first full-time music teacher at Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Conn. Eagle Hill is a private school for students with language-based learning disabilities. "I was given a blank slate to create a program," she says. "It was challenging at times, but also an exciting opportunity."

    Now in her 10th year at Eagle Hill, Gulyas reflects on her experiences. It is a transitional program, with students re-entering mainstream classrooms, so her adaptations are small. She uses John M. Feierabend's First Steps in Music series for younger students and older grades participate in choir and keyboarding lessons.

    It is a learning opportunity for everyone. "I've learned a lot from my colleagues about working with our unique population of students, and from the students themselves."

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  • Christine Manning Cook
    Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts

    Christine Manning Cook left UD in 2004 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, but like many in the field, she has never left education – as a teacher or a student. Right after graduation, Cook took a job conducting the orchestra and teaching music appreciation at Northern Middle School in Calvert County, Maryland, where she taught for 14 years before taking an administrative role in 2018. A self-described “growth-focused personality,” Cook completed a Master of Arts in Leadership in Teaching at Notre Dame of Maryland University in 2010 and earned a Certification in Administration and Supervision six years later. This January, Cook began a new position as supervisor of fine and performing arts for Calvert County Public Schools, a position that gives her direct impact over arts education for the entire district.

    Cook remembers key moments at UD that shaped her view of education and leadership. Professor Emeritus and former Wind Ensemble director Robert Streckfuss was a major influence. “He talked about how you transition in and out of a program. Because we have students for 1-6 years, not just one year.” When starting a job, “think about who you are replacing and being willing to start where the students are.” You need to respect the traditions that have been developed and that students value, and make changes slowly. In talking to other music colleagues, she realized that not everyone learned this in school.

    She also remembers that the best lessons she learned about leadership came from her years with the Fighin’ Blue Hen Marching Band under Heidi Sarver. Sarv spent time with section leaders explaining exactly leadership means and how to achieve it.

    Cook’s experience is proof that life is always changing. She points out that when she studied at UD, the orchestra was so small that they held rehearsals in Bayard Sharp Hall — something that would be impossible with the size of the ensemble today!

    And she credits her success to being open to change and constantly growing as a person. The field of education is constantly changing, and successful teachers need to adapt to what their students need. In some schools, the majority of students have received private lessons or outside instruction, and in others they literally never touch their instrument outside of school.

    Of course, not everything changes. She cautions new graduates to understand that the first year of teaching is always overwhelming, but they can still be successful if they have an open mind and pay attention to what their students need. One last piece of advice: “Surround yourself with others who are positive and enthusiastic about education, not necessarily other music teachers, but any educators. It can be easy to get caught up in the negatives.”

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  • Kate Buehler-McWilliams
    Owner, Unprofitable Instruments

    Kate Buehler-McWilliams (BM ’99; MM ’01) was an early strings major at UD, and today she handcrafts medieval instruments from her workshop in Minnesota.

    She discovered her passion for making instruments while studying with Professor Russell E. Murray, Jr., UD’s resident early music expert.

    Buehler-McWilliams, a violinist, had always loved medieval music, and she had experience with woodworking before starting college, so in the summer of 1997 she decided to build her first medieval fiddle. During her senior year at UD, she built a tromba marina and exhibited it at an early-music festival in Boston.

    From there, it was an easy decision to pursue her craft, and Buehler-McWilliams began studying as much as possible, earning a MM in musicology form the University of Minnesota.

    Few instruments survive today from the medieval period, and most of what scholars know comes from studying written descriptions and visual depictions in artwork of the era. Buehler-McWilliams was fortunate to have access to the only known extant citole from the 1300s, housed in the British Museum, intricately carved, with a prominent thumbhole, which was played by plucking.

    After studying the British Museum citole, Buehler-McWilliams recreated it in her workshop.

    Medieval instruments are a giant puzzle. Although there are some written descriptions, we don’t really know what they sounded like. During the time, most music was memorized or improvised, so there little instrumental repertoire from the period (about 40 known pieces in total), and there was no standardization—artwork from the era shows considerable variation among different instruments.

    For Buehler-McWilliams, placing pieces of the puzzle is part of the fun. Instead of building an instrument to create a certain sound, “I let the sound inform me what the instrument should be.” As she continues to craft instruments, she learns more and more about what they might have been in the past.

    You can follow the creation process on the company’s Facebook page:, and learn about her study of the British Museum citole in detail at her website

    photos courtesy of Kate Buehler-McWilliams

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  • School of Music
  • Amy E. du Pont Music Building
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-2578