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Fredonia selects Baldwin Wallace University’s Unger to be new School of Music Director
Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fredonia selects Baldwin Wallace University’s Unger to be new School of Music Director

Dr. Melvin Unger, director of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute at Baldwin Wallace University, will become Fredonia's School of Music Director on July 1.

Fredonia has named Dr. Melvin P. Unger as the new director of its world-renowned School of Music. Dr. Unger currently serves as director of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. He will begin at Fredonia on July 1, at which point current Director Karl Boelter, who has served admirably in this role since 2003, will join the Music faculty in the Composition area.

Dr. Unger has been part of Baldwin Wallace’s highly regarded Conservatory of Music since 1998. Throughout this span he has led the Bach Institute, whose mission is to preserve and enhance the university’s distinctive and internationally recognized tradition of cultivating the music of J. S. Bach, and to provide students with exemplary models of musicological research and scholarly resources needed for their academic development.

At Fredonia, Unger will oversee a total enrollment of approximately 600 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as more than 100 faculty and staff in the School of Music.

In addition to his leadership at Baldwin Wallace, in 2012–2013, as a Fellow with the Emerging Leaders Program of the American Council on Education, Unger worked at Roosevelt University in Chicago, assisting with the university’s strategic planning process.

Highlights of Unger’s conducting experience include leading the all-male Singers’ Club of Cleveland (founded in 1892) since 2001, and the 80-member Baldwin Wallace Singers, which he founded, from 1999 to 2011.

In addition to his administrative and teaching work, Unger has authored five books as well as numerous first editions, articles and book chapters. He has also delivered presentations at a variety of professional conferences, workshops and festivals in North America and Europe.

Prior to joining Baldwin Wallace, Unger led the music department of North American Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta, from 1980 to 1998. He also served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii-Hilo from 1996 to 1997. He began his career as a music teacher in the Toronto Public School System in 1975.

Unger is a recipient of the American Bach Society’s William H. Scheide Fellowship, two American Choral Directors Association Research Awards, and the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors Book Award. He is a member of the advisory board of the American Bach Society.

“Dr. Unger brings a wealth of educational, professional and administrative experience to this key position at Fredonia,” said Dean Ralph J. Blasting of Fredonia’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. “He has inspirational ideas and solid experience in planning and management. I am confident that he will continue our tradition of excellence, and am very excited about working with him.”

Unger earned a doctoral degree in Musical Arts (Choral Music) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also holds a Master of Music (Choral Conducting) from the University of Oregon, as well as a Bachelor of Music (Choral Music Education with minors in German and English) from the University of Saskatchewan.

“I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with the outstanding faculty, administration and staff who have built Fredonia’s renowned School of Music,” Unger said. “It will be an honor to add my efforts to their accomplishments and, in particular, to build on the legacy of Dr. Karl Boelter. My wife, Elizabeth (Betty), and I are eager to get settled in Fredonia!”

During Dr. Boelter’s tenure, the School of Music experienced an impressive era of growth, both in terms of students and facilities/resources. Three physical additions occurred to Mason Hall, including the acoustically superb Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall in 2004, the state-of-the-art Sound Recording Technology studio in 2007, and the large ensemble Robert and Marilyn Maytum Rehearsal Rooms in 2010.

Boelter also secured visits to campus from some of the world’s most accomplished musical performers, including Dawn Upshaw, Mark O’Connor, Arturo Sandoval and the incomparable Yo-Yo Ma.

School of Music enrollment has grown by 32 percent under Boelter’s tenure, and 1,328 degrees have been awarded. Students also experienced such highlights as performing at Carnegie Hall and completing international tours in such countries as China, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, among others.

“Dr. Boelter’s tenure with Fredonia has been truly impressive, and we have all been the beneficiaries of his service, leadership, creativity and vision in building a better Fredonia,” Dr. Blasting added. “On behalf of all of us within the College of Visual and Performing Arts, I thank him sincerely for all he has done to provide our students with such extraordinary educational opportunities and experiences.”

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