BY CATHERINE TROLL
Near the end of the spring 2013 semester there was considerable confusion over what was happening to Franciscan University’s Sacred Music Program. Rumors spread that the program would be dropped completely. While it is true that Dr. Paul Weber, former Assistant Music Director and director of the organ program, has left the department, Franciscan’s music program is far from coming to an end.
“The Sacred Music Program at Franciscan University is alive and well,” explained Professor Nicholas Will, one of the two newly-hired professors in the Sacred Music Department. “In fact, we have a number of freshmen in the program and a few transfer students as well. There are no significant changes in curriculum planned at the moment, although we will be looking for opportunities to integrate the work of our students and ensembles more fully in campus life as a whole,” he said.
Professor Jessica Ewell, an accomplished opera soprano and new professor in the department, agreed that the program is thriving. “Professor Will and I are very excited to further Franciscan University’s mission through a vibrant, prayerful, high-caliber music program,” she said.
The Sacred Music Program equips students to perform professionally in either organ or voice.
“Our curriculum is similar to other schools of music in that we provide thorough training in music theory, music history, ear training and conducting,” said Will. “What makes us unique is our focus on the Church’s vast contributions to Western music.”
Will explained that the foundation of the Sacred Music Program’s curriculum rests on “the Church’s treasury of sacred music, from Gregorian chant to newly composed works.”
In addition to Will and Ewell, the program’s experienced staff includes Professors Ron DuBois and George Melhorn.
Will teaches organ, Gregorian chant, music history and ear training, and conducts Franciscan’s two ensembles, the Schola Cantorum Franciscana and the Franciscan University Chorale.
Ewell teaches voice, music theory and survey of sacred and religious music, among other courses.
DuBois gives guitar and piano lessons, while Melhorn teaches music appreciation and gives piano lessons.
According to Will, the students enrolled in the Sacred Music Program generally aspire to become professional musicians either in the secular music realm or within the Church.
“While we strive to train musicians who will dedicate their lives to sacred music and its performance,” he said, “our overarching goal is to enable students to live out their faith in their music-making no matter what career path is chosen.”
Sacred Music major Amanda Rodriguez, a sophomore whose concentration is in Voice, said, “I am happy that I get to continue pursuing my major. The professors we currently have are fantastic and challenge us to be better musician