Saint Mary Music Alums Offer Reflections
"Only when one is old enough to look back on one's life do all the pieces fit together and make sense. An important part of my life was nurtured and propelled by my four years of study at St. Mary College (as it was known then) as a Voice and Music Education major back in 1954 - 1958. I was there in the hey day of the music major with faculty like Sr. Rose Vincentia Tomlin, Sr. Mary Madeleva, and Madame Olga Sacerdote. I had many opportunities to perform with the college orchestra, in many recitals, opera scenes and original productions often guided by Sr. Mary Dolorita. This foundation opened doors to me into musical circles that I still enjoy today. During my years of singing I was able to perform with orchestras, do recitals, be a part of an opera company, co-ordinate the first European wide Liturgical Music Conference for military personnel, sustain a 23 year teaching career in public school music and be an active Cantor for a large parish in Southern California. I continue in that capacity still as well as singing in an excellent Master Chorale. I believe that St. Mary was the place where I learned how to integrate music into my life as performer, wife, mother, teacher, arts supporter and liturgical musician.
-- Dorothy Zalar Gillan (class of 1958)
Sharon, I graduated from Saint Mary in 1954 with a BME. I taught school music or privately at home for over 40 years. I still have students come up to me and tell me how much they learned in my classes. This foundation was given to me at St. Mary.
At age 80, I still play at my church, Sacred Heart, several times a month. I am always given the new cantors so I can teach them the liturgy as they prepare for this wonderful ministry.
I was sad when St. Mary dropped the music program, and I am now exalted that they have reinstated it. Music is the oldest of the arts -- the angels were singing in heaven before we were created! We must continue to teach and exemplify quality music in church and society.
St. Mary did and I hope they do so again.
-- Joan (Depperschmidt) Albers, C’54
I believe that Saint Mary is very blessed to have two very outstanding music Professors in the persons of Dr William Krusemark and Freda Proctor. Very few small colleges have faculty of such outstanding talent and teaching ability as these two teachers exemplify.
Dr Krusemark has a special gift for taking young voices and developing them so beautifully by selecting the right music at the right time for their ability and development. He develops the voice without forcing it, thus making it too loud and course to try to increase volume. He has the special gift of taking the student where they are, giving them confidence, developing their technic and selecting the perfect repertoire for their age and vocal development.
Dr Krusemark’s choral work is outstanding also. He initiated a combined choral concert of Benedictine College and Saint Mary College chorales some 30 years ago, and these students performed together large choral works of the Masters that a smaller choir could not adequately do. Dr Krusemark’s sister, Ruth Krusemark, is the choral director at Benedictine College and they combined choirs and toured Italy. They performed a beautiful concert in Rome and sang with the Vatican choir at the Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany.
Above all of these abilities, Dr Krusemark stands out as the most generous, most kind and has the highest integrity that one would ever desire in a teacher. Saint Mary is indeed blessed to have him as Department Chair and Professor.
Freda Proctor is equally gifted and concertizes on piano, flute and organ. She is the most gifted and sensitive accompanist that I have ever heard. She teaches class piano and is very encouraging to beginners. She also teaches advanced students to perform Concerti and classical works on piano and flute in a most professional, artistic manner.
She began the Saint Mary Bell Choir and does beautiful work with these students at the Choral Concerts. Mrs. Proctor has developed the band from a very small ensemble to a much larger Civic Band that includes many band teachers from the area and many professional instrumentalists. She selects challenging repertoire and makes rehearsals very pleasant by her lovely manner and sense of humor.
Mrs. Proctor has developed string ensembles, flute ensembles, brass ensembles and inserts these into her band concerts also. Again, she is truly a role model of what a Christian woman should be. She is the wife of a Methodist Minister and has been a great asset to his Churches by her musicianship and her example of a holy life.
Both of these faculty members radiate scholarship, musicianship, performance skills to a very high degree but also personal goodness, integrity, and kindness to all they contact.
Saint Mary is so blessed with such outstanding music faculty members.
-- Sister Anne Callahan SCL, Professor Emeritus, University of Saint Mary
Sr. Rose V. sums up the music department at St. Mary College for many of us. We were the suffering students under the great Task Master. Rose was a brilliant musician, a strict director, a stern presence and a big softie underneath.
Great memories are easily awakened to the tune of "Sound of Music" and "Once Upon a Mattress" and flowing chant melodies at evening Benediction; tight harmonies in Schola and roaring laughter singing "Space-Age Santa Claus" in Christmas concerts at Wadsworth & Lansing; musical scales ringing through the practice rooms day and night and not least, the aires of Bach from the organ in the auditorium. Then finally, after years of practice, the Senior concerts in the Walnut Room.
Even to this day, around the Circle, in front of St. Marys and St. Josephs and Berchmans, one can hear music. A fond memory, indeed.
-- Nancy Dover Moylan, C''65
I have had the pleasure to work with Dr. Krusemark, known to me as Dr. K, for 25 years now. I began private voice lessons as a high school student with him and have been able to continue both his instruction and mentoring. Dr. K was my reason for choosing Saint Mary College. At the time that I attended we had a large group of music and drama majors. I was a part of the chorale and the Chamber Singers Ensemble. Though we have evolved through the years and seen both advancements in education and technology, music is one piece that remains the same but yet allows you to express yourself in a number of ways. As a student under the direction of either Dr. K or Freda you not only develop performance skills but learn to incorporate the culture of the music you are working on. Incorporated in our studies were theory & form, music history, different languages, and music appreciation. By developing an appreciation for your chosen art, you prepare yourself for musical involvement everywhere.
My most favorable moments were the Opera workshop where we incorporated props, beautiful full length dresses, and many wonderful voices to add to an evening of entertainment. Also my Senior Recital. This involved many hours of rehearsal. We prepared pieces in foreign languages, classical, contemporary and pieces from more recent Broadway theaters. In the end it is a true accomplishment for oneself. I was also able to work with Sr. Anne Callahan, as she was a part of the music department and a huge supporter.
I am ever gracious to be able to still partake in the music programs that USM puts on for both the students and the community. As an active role I hope that I may pass on some of the knowledge and skills that I have acquired during my many years, not only as an alumni, but as an active employee. I uphold the deepest respect for Dr. K as he has been not only a mentor in my music career but also a supporter throughout my life and my goals. He is a true part of what USM means to me.
-- Melissa Jones, C'97
Dr. Krusemark and Freda Proctor both came to St. Mary after I had graduated, so I don't know them well enough to comment about them. While many of our careers did not remain directly associated with music, many of us ended up applying our music skills to church settings. Tes Mehring, Alison Banikowski, Lucy Urlacher, and Chris Vitt have all been musicians at Guardian Angels Church in Kansas City, MO for several decades. Chris and Lucy moved to Columbia MO a few years ago, but it is unique that so many of us from multiple generations of St. Mary music majors ended up in the same church!
-- Tes Mehring, C'74