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AMU Announces Three Hires for Music Faculty

The team that will begin what Ave Maria University President Jim Towey says is a needed "revitalization" of its music department now is in place for the 2015-16 academic year.

AMU has hired three new faculty members to rebuild a department that was dramatically reduced in the spring when professors Timothy McDonnell and Rebecca Osterman were fired and at least two other instructors left. Another instructor, Lan Lam, who taught at the school since before its move to the new campus in 2007, also will not return, it was learned last week.

The three new faculty:

- Dr. Helen Tintes-Scheurmann, who will be a visiting associate professor, comes to AMU from the Konservatorium Wien University in Vienna, Austria. She is an American singer who performs internationally and holds a Doctor of Music degree from Northwestern University.

- Dr. Sunghee Lee received her Ph.D this year from Brandeis University and has been a piano instructor and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

- Dr. Taylor Ferranti may become one of the more visible members of the faculty because he will have responsibility for choral activities in addition to teaching full time as a visiting associate professor. He taught music at Cedarville College, a Baptist school in Ohio, for seven years, leaving as a tenured associate professor in 2011 to become music director at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Naples, he said in an interview. When Covenant had a change in musical direction to more contemporary music, he left.

"I'm a classicly-trained musician," he said, adding that although he "can do contemporary music" he was uncomfortable with the amplified music and electric guitars at Covenant. He now is the music director at  Lely Presbyterian Church, a part-time position that he will keep, he said.

He said that teaching, working with and mentoring young people is his first love. "I want them to do something for Jesus in the world," he said.

Dr. Ferranti said that he didn't see teaching at and directing the choir at a Catholic university to be at odds in any way with his Protestant faith. "If Christ is at the center, that's the main thing. That's how I operate."

He said he is looking forward to the challenge of building the music program at AMU. With respect to the choir and its style and repertoire, he said he plans to spend the first several months getting to know the choir's sound and its capabilities. And he said he has yet to sort out who will direct the choir if it sings at Mass in the oratory on Sunday mornings because he's told AMU he will be at Lely Presbyterian Church and worshipping with his family on Sundays.

Click here for the AMU press release announcing the hires.

A previous Ave Herald story on the AMU music department changes in the spring is here.


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