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Music

The Music major at Roger Williams University offers a solid foundation in music theory and the principle musical styles in western culture, as well as an introduction to the music of various world cultures. Students study the elements of music and explore their application in various compositional formats. They have the opportunity to study the evolution of popular music as well as the classical forms that have characterized and helped define western culture. A unique aspect of RWU’s Music major that reflects the mission of the University is the exploration of world cultures through music. These courses will focus not only on the music of various world cultures, but also on the ways in which music is a reflection of these cultures.

Performing Ensembles
While enrolled at RWU, Music majors will study voice or instrument in private lessons and perform with one of the department’s ensembles. Both the Instrumental Ensemble and the Chorus are conducted by members of the Music faculty. The RWU Chorus performs a varied repertoire of classical choral works along with musical theater and popular styles. Both ensembles perform at the end of each semester in the RWU Performing Arts Center.

Preparing for a Career
Students in the Music major are encouraged to take advantage of other unique opportunities offered at Roger Williams University, with its strong professional schools that complement the liberal arts curriculum. By adding a minor in Business, Communication or Computer Science, students can prepare themselves for many new opportunities in the field of music beyond the traditional spheres of performance and composition.

Student Learning Outcomes

In addition to demonstrating the University-wide core values and achieving the University-wide learning outcomes, students in the music program at Roger Williams University will be able to:

  • employ well-developed critical and analytical listening skills.
  • define the fundamental elements of music.
  • utilize fundamental knowledge of music theory and notation to compose original music.
  • read rhythmic notation accurately and display well-developed aural skills.
  • demonstrate basic keyboard skills.
  • function effectively in an ensemble context and contribute constructively to group performances.
  • describe how the elements of music define musical styles, both orally and in writing.
  • describe the stylistic changes in Western music that have occurred over the past seven centuries, both orally and in writing.
  • identify social and cultural forces that have affected the creation and role of music in American and other cultures.
  • describe the place of music in American life and in the lives of people from cultures around the world.
  • understand and appreciate the diversity of musical styles from cultures around the world in acknowledgement of the ongoing globalization of the arts.
  • recognize how music from various cultures both utilizes common elements and displays unique stylistic characteristics.
Jonathan Richter, M.M.
Adjunct Professor
B.A. and B.S. University of Connecticut, M.M. Yale University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3626
Areas of Expertise: 
Director, Roger Williams University Chorus

Jonathan Richter

Jonathan
Richter
M.M.
Adjunct Professor
B.A. and B.S. University of Connecticut, M.M. Yale University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3626
Areas of Expertise: 
Director, Roger Williams University Chorus

Jonathan Richter is an active conductor, vocalist, and music educator based in southern New England. In addition to directing the Roger Williams University Chorus, Richter also directs choral ensembles at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA and the Walnut Hill School for the ArtJonathan Richter conductings in Natick, MA. Jonathan earned a B.A. in Music, B.S. in Education from the University of Connecticut, and a M.M. in Choral Conducting from Yale University. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in choral conducting at Boston University.

John Dennewitz
Adjunct Professor
M.M. New England Conservatory Bachelor of Music, B.M. Rhode Island College
Contact Information
(401) 254-3439
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Guitar

John Dennewitz

John
Dennewitz
Adjunct Professor
M.M. New England Conservatory Bachelor of Music, B.M. Rhode Island College
Contact Information
(401) 254-3439
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Guitar

JOHN DENNEWITZ has been performing and teaching classical guitar since the early 1990's. He has delighted diverse audiences throughout New England as both a soloist and chamber musician with his musicality and passionate playing. In 2008, he performed as a member of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra in their summer European tour to France and the Netherlands.

Eric Christensen
Adjunct Professor
G. D. New England Conservatory, M. M Yale University School of Music, B. M. Lawrence University Conservatory of Music
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Guitar

Eric Christensen

Eric
Christensen
Adjunct Professor
G. D. New England Conservatory, M. M Yale University School of Music, B. M. Lawrence University Conservatory of Music
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Guitar

Eric Christensen has taught and performed professionally for over ten years. He is proficient in a variety of styles including classical, jazz, rock and musicals. He has performed in a variety of settings including weddings, cocktail parties, corporate functions, art galleries, libraries, nursing homes, hospices, and churches. Primarily a classical guitarist, he has performed as a recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist throughout the United States and Canada including several major cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago as well as popular vacation destinations such as Cape Cod, Aspen, and Palm Beach. He has appeared on many concert series including Music on the Hill, East Greenwich, Rhode Island; Spire Series, Pompano Beach, Florida; and Classical Mandolin Society of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has performed live on National Public Radio (NPR) in Palm Beach, Florida. Eric gives master classes and chamber music coachings to area high schools and special presentations to elementary schools throughout the country.

Nancy Nicholson, M.M.
Adjunct Professor
M.M. University of Wisconsin, B.A. Western Illinois University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3035
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Piano

Nancy Nicholson

Nancy
Nicholson
M.M.
Adjunct Professor
M.M. University of Wisconsin, B.A. Western Illinois University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3035
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Piano

Nancy Nicholson has appeared as piano soloist in New England and in the Midwest. She has presented recitals abroad at Royal Festival Hall's Purcell Room (London), and at the Salle Cortot and Schola Cantorum (Paris). A specialist in French music, she was twice a featured performer at the prestigious French Piano Institute in Paris. She was pianist and co-artistic director of the Jamestown, RI Chamber Music Series, and performed on concerts throughout New England as part of the trio “Music for a While.”

Her interest in the organ music of J.S. Bach led her to formal organ study and the position of music director at Church of the Ascension in Cranston, RI. She has presented workshops for the RI Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and at regional AGO conventions.

Kevin Kane
Adjunct Professor
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Evolution of Jazz

Kevin Kane

Kevin
Kane
Adjunct Professor
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Evolution of Jazz

Kevin Kane is a jazz trombonist and longtime jazz educator.

Vaughn Bryner
Adjunct Professor
B.A. Bethel College, M.M. Ball State University
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Voice and Piano

Vaughn Bryner

Vaughn
Bryner
Adjunct Professor
B.A. Bethel College, M.M. Ball State University
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Voice and Piano

Baritone and keyboardist, Vaughn Bryner, teaches voice lessons and piano lessons at RWU and has music directed four musicals with the RWU Theatre. Bryner has been active as a teacher and professional performer for over twenty-five years in genres including classical, standards, rock, pop and church music. Bryner has sung many solo roles as a classical baritone with opera and oratorio companies from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and New England; has sung music theater in numerous productions; and has held a number of regular gigs as a singer and keyboardist performing standards in lounges, restaurants and country club dining rooms.

Eric Bronner
Adjunct Professor
M.M.,Longy School of Music, M.S. Ohio University, B.A. Purdue University
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music - Voice; Speech & Communications

Eric Bronner

Eric
Bronner
Adjunct Professor
M.M.,Longy School of Music, M.S. Ohio University, B.A. Purdue University
Contact Information
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music - Voice; Speech & Communications

Eric teaches in three RWU departments: voice lessons for Music; public speaking for Communications, and aesthetics for the Core Curriculum. His profession weaves together many paths: Professor/Voice Teacher,  Singer (opera/music theater tenor), and Communications Practitioner. His accomplishments include critical acclaim for singing and acting, scholarly publications, textbook contribution, and publications awards.

As a singer, Eric has performed opera, music theater, concert, and cabaret in Britain, and throughout the U.S. and New England. His performances have aired on BBC, NPR, and PBS. He appears on three commercial recordings and numerous American Classics archive recordings for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. Press reviews include “terrific”-St. Augustine Record (FL), “impressive”-Stockton Record (CA), “a clear tenor voice that beautifully sailed with ease”-Providence Journal (RI), and “deft comic acting”-Boston Globe (MA).

Elizabeth Armstrong, B.A.
Adjunct Professor
B.A. Tufts University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3660
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Piano

Elizabeth Armstrong

Elizabeth
Armstrong
B.A.
Adjunct Professor
B.A. Tufts University
Contact Information
(401) 254-3660
Areas of Expertise: 
Applied Music: Piano

Beth Armstrong teaches piano at Roger Williams University and maintains a private voice and piano studio in her Bristol home. She is the director of the Greater Tiverton Community Chorus, Voices of Hope, and the Summer Chorus of Westport, in addition to the Chorus of East Providence.

Previously, she chaired the choral department at the Music School of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and coordinated both the Junior Providence Singers and the JPS Treble Chorus there. Before moving to Rhode Island, Beth sang in the Concord Chorale, occasionally appearing as a soloist, and founded and sang in femme m’amie, a seven woman a cappella group. She directed the Suncook Valley Chorale in Concord, New Hampshire, and taught public school music for 12 years.

A graduate of Tufts University, she pursued a master's degree in Music Education at the University of New Hampshire. Along with her husband, Stewart, she sang in the Providence Singers for five years.

Marilynn Mair, M.Ed. Fine Arts
Professor of Music
A.B. Brown University, B.M. Rhode Island College, M.Ed. Fine Arts Temple University
Contact Information
x3568
FCAS 150
Areas of Expertise: 
Music History, Music and Culture of the Americas

Marilynn Mair

Marilynn
Mair
M.Ed. Fine Arts
Professor of Music
A.B. Brown University, B.M. Rhode Island College, M.Ed. Fine Arts Temple University
Contact Information
x3568
FCAS 150
Areas of Expertise: 
Music History, Music and Culture of the Americas

Marilynn Mair is a Professor of Music at Roger Williams University teaching courses in music and cultural history, specializing in the Americas. She has developed many of the course offerings of the RWU Music department, including “Evolution of Musical Style,” “The Art of Rock & Roll,” and “World Cultures Through Music” courses in Latin American and North American music. She is also a mandolinist, internationally renowned for her concerts and recordings, who has established classical mandolin in chamber music circles worldwide, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Mandolin”.

Catherine Hawkes, D.M.
Assistant Professor
D.M. and M.M. Indiana University, M.Ed. and B.S. Rhode Island College,
Contact Information
x5754
FCAS 156
Areas of Expertise: 
Instrumental Ensemble, Music History, World Cultures through Music

Catherine Hawkes

Catherine
Hawkes
D.M.
Assistant Professor
D.M. and M.M. Indiana University, M.Ed. and B.S. Rhode Island College,
Contact Information
x5754
FCAS 156
Areas of Expertise: 
Instrumental Ensemble, Music History, World Cultures through Music

Catherine playing recorderAssistant Professor Catherine Hawkes has been with the Music Department since 2006.  Her varied interests have led her down a winding career path, including stints in educational evaluation, as executive director of a concert series, and as Assistant Director of Collins LLC, one of the oldest and largest university living-learning centers in the nation.