Full Time Faculty

Director of Instrumental Music – Dr. William Perrine
William Perrine

William Perrine serves as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Activities at Concordia University Ann Arbor. He directs the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, and Cardinal Regiment Marching band, as well as teaching course in music education, conducting, and music history. Under his direction the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra have developed a national reputation for excellence. The Wind Ensemble’s 2016 Carnegie Hall debut was critically praised as “stunning and inspirational…one of the finest wind bands in the nation,” while the ensemble’s 2018 Chicago Symphony Center performance was recognized at the 2019 CBDNA Small Program Showcase and received 3rd Place in the 2021 American Prize competition. Dr. Perrine also founded the Concordia Orchestra in 2014, which was also recognized as a finalist in the 2021 American Prize competition. He holds a doctorate of philosophy in music education from Indiana University, a master of music degree in conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and an undergraduate degree in music education from Transylvania University. Dr. Perrine also serves as the conductor of the Washtenaw Community Concert Band.

Prior to his appointment at Concordia, Dr. Perrine spent ten years teaching in Title I schools in Kentucky and Florida, where he earned his National Board Teacher Certification. Ensembles under his direction performed at both Carnegie Hall in New York City and at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. His public-school teaching experience continues to inform his philosophical research and advocacy for large ensemble music education; his research areas include public policy and the development of pre-political spaces in the music curriculum. Dr. Perrine has presented his peer-reviewed research at many national and international conferences and symposia, and is published with the Philosophy of Music Education Review, Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, Arts Education Policy Review, Action, Criticism, and Theory in Music Education, and the Music Educators Journal. His edited volume, The Future of the Wind Band, is available through GIA Publications, while his monograph Beauty, Reason, & Power: Music Education in a Pluralist Society is scheduled to be published by Peter Lang in late 2022.

Director of Church Music – Dr. John Boonenberg
John Boonenberg

John Boonenberg serves as Director of Worship Arts Leadership and Assistant Professor of Music at Concordia University—Ann Arbor. As a long-time Director of Music Ministry, performer, and teacher, Dr. Boonenberg has been involved in the full musical life of the church—playing organ, piano, guitar, and other instruments for worship services, conducting choirs and instrumental ensembles, and teaching general music and drama in Lutheran schools. Under the guidance of Dr. Boonenberg, his school choirs have consistently won superior ratings at the Lutheran School Music Festival, and his adult choir has sung at several conferences and hymn festivals. Many of Dr. Boonenberg’s student-musicians have won numerous awards at various music festivals throughout the state.

Dr. Boonenberg is passionate about liturgical renewal in the church and creative worship planning. Enjoying a wide variety of musical styles, Dr. Boonenberg believes simple congregational song and music of the highest artistic achievement join together in the praise of God and in the proclamation of the Word. He believes in utilizing the varied musical gifts of congregation members to glorify God in Word and Song, and to edify the community of believers. He takes special interest in historic Lutheran hymnody, Contemporary Christian songwriting, music from the Taize community, and the music of J.S. Bach.

Dr. Boonenberg holds degrees from The University of Michigan (BM, DMA) and The Juilliard School (MM).

In his spare time, Dr. B. enjoys spending time with his wife Claudia and daughter Nora, running, and cheering on UM football and Detroit sports teams.

Applied Faculty – Voice

Voice – Kara Alfano
Kara Alfano

Kara Alfano has performed with opera companies and vocal groups throughout Michigan, including Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Grand Rapids, Arbor Opera Theatre, Motor City Lyric Opera, the Comic Opera Guild, Lakeshore Chamber Singers, and Vox Early Music Ensemble. Her roles have included Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Sister Constance in Dialogue of the Carmelites, Susanna and Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro, Mercedes in Carmen, The Princess in The Goose Girl, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, and The Sandman in Hansel and Gretel. On the concert stage, Ms. Alfano has been a featured soloist in Honnegar’s King David, Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Bach’s Mass in b minor. Past awards have included the Seth F. Hokanson Voice Scholarship (National Award), and The Jenny Lind Voice Award (Michigan).

A dedicated teacher, Ms. Alfano serves on the voice faculty at Concordia University, where she currently teaches voice lessons and has taught Vocal Arts Lab and the Concordia Chorale. She has also taught voice at the Ann Arbor School of Performing Arts, The Chelsea Center for the Arts, Grosse Pointe South High School, and Saline High School.

Ms. Alfano received her training at the University of Michigan School of Music, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Voice Performance. As a member of the UM Chamber Choir, she sang on the 2004 Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Grammy award winning Songs of Innocence and Experience. She has studied under Carmen Pelton, Freda Herseth, Edward Parmentier, and Martin Katz.

Voice, Women’s Chorale – Dr. Natalie Downs
Natalie Downs

Natalie Emptage Downs teaches voice and directs the Women's Chorale at CUAA. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Otterbein College, a Master of Music from Michigan State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Michigan State University.

As a light lyric soprano, Dr. Downs is an active recitalist and has performed in various opera and musical theatre productions. Most recent performances include The Barber of Seville, The Red Mill, Le nozze di Figaro, Gianni Schicci, Candide, and Brigadoon. She has sung the soprano solo in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. In 2008, Dr. Downs was the winner of the Charlotte Ruppel Memorial Voice Award from The Birmingham Musicale located in Birmingham, MI. She has also been featured in many operetta recordings with the Comic Opera Guild of Ann Arbor, MI. Most recent recordings include Victor Herbert's Golden Girl and Girl in the Spotlight.

Dr. Downs also serves as Director of Choirs and Special Music at Zion Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor. She has previously taught at Spring Arbor University, Michigan State University, and served as the vocal area chair at the Michigan State University Community Music School.

Dr. Downs’ research primarily focuses on women in music. Her doctoral thesis is entitled “The Diva Without A Voice: Pauline Viardot and the Problem With Biography.” Dr. Downs was awarded a research enhancement grant from the Michigan State University Graduate School and College of Music, which was used to conduct research at the Houghton Library at Harvard University on Viardot’s vocal music.

Voice – Lorna Young Hildebrandt

Soprano Lorna Young Hildebrandt, who “warbled effortless roulades with lovely charm, seemingly perfect ease and impeccable intonation” (Simon Wainrib, Berkshire Record/Berkshire Bach Society, MA) specializes in performing repertoire of the great Baroque composers such as Handel, Bach and Vivaldi along with earlier composers of the 16th and17th centuries. Ms. Hildebrandt performs on concert series in Ann Arbor and in the Southeastern Michigan area including the DIA’s Brunch with Bach Concert Series, the Plymouth Oratorio Society and has presented fringe concerts in conjunction with the Boston Early Music Festival. Recent solo oratorio performances include Bach’s BWV 51 Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, Vivaldi’s Magnificat, Schumann’s Requiem, Mozart’s Sparrow Mass, Gasparini’s Mass in G, Haydn’s Grosse Orgelmesse and Handel’s Judas Maccabeaus.

In the spring of 2014, Ms. Hildebrandt will collaborate with other Baroque musicians for a performance on the Academy of Early Music ‘s concert series entitled Concerto della Donne featuring the virtuosic and elegant repertoire of the “Ladies of Ferrara” for three sopranos. This performance will be presented at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (info@academyofearlymusic.org).

Ms. Hildebrandt has enjoyed coaching and teaching privately for over fifteen years. As an adjunct professor at Concordia University she has taught voice for over ten years. Ms. Hildebrandt’s vocal performance degrees are from the University of Michigan School of Music. Additional study in early music performance practice includes the Early Music Vancouver Programme and the Amherst Early Music Baroque Academy. For vocal pedagogy, she attended Richard Miller’s Summer Vocal Arts Conference at Oberlin College and Conservatory. She is the soprano soloist and section leader at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor.

Recordings featuring Ms. Hildebrandt singing Gregorian chant and 16th & 17th century repertoire written by women composers such as Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani and Barbara Strozzi may be heard on the Ave Maria Press label. She also lends her light, clear voice to recording contemporary works by local and University composers, such as Professor Andy Kirshner’s music-theater work, The Museum of Life and Death based on the medieval morality play of Everyman. Lorna lives in Saline with her husband, Mark, and their two children.

Voice – Elizabeth Mitchell

Profile coming soon....

Applied Faculty – Instrumental

Guitar - Terry Farmer

Terry has been Professor of Guitar at Concordia since 2015. Terry earned a BM in Guitar Performance at the University of Denver with additional study at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Michigan State University. Originally from the Detroit area, his musical career has taken him all over the nation as a player and band leader, including a several year stint as lead guitarist with multi-hit surf legends Jan & Dean, and 3 years of national touring with his original music band, The Bead Band. As a songwriter Terry was honored as a New Folk Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. He received similar songwriting recognition at several national festivals. Terry and performed at festivals such as Blissfest (MI), the Kerrville Folk Festival (TX) and Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (NY), in addition to many clubs, theaters and concert venues around the country.

Terry was the musical director for the live radio variety show, Radio Free Bacon, which aired for 3 seasons on Ann Arbor’s 107ONE. From 2007 – 2012 was a founding member of the Celtic/folk trio, Cairn to Cairn. He is also in his 10th year as Music Director of the Contemporary Service at the First Congregational Church in Ann Arbor. Terry currently operates a 15-year-old Suzuki Guitar studio in Ann Arbor.

Violin – Katherine McNamara

Katherine McNamara is currently serving as Concordia University's adjunct violin instructor. She holds degrees in violin performance from Wayne State University and Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She studied under Detroit Symphony violinist and New Mexico Philharmonic Executive director Marian Tanau in undergrad, and violinists Vasile Beluska and Stephen Miahky in graduate school. While in graduate school under the tutelage of string pedagogue Dr. Elaine Colprit, Katherine had the opportunity to teach a string methods course that taught the fundamentals of violin, viola, cello, and double bass to college students. Many of Katherine's pedagogical philosophies and practices stem from this experience under Dr. Elaine Colprit as well as violinist and music philosopher Vasile Beluska.

Katherine McNamara is an active freelance musician in the Detroit metro area, performing in local orchestras, mentoring youth orchestras, and putting together chamber groups when the opportunity arises. She has been teaching privately for 11 years and maintains several different studios locally.

Collaborative Piano – Dr. Jeehyun Park
Jeehyun Park

Born in a musical family, Jeehyun Park started piano lessons with her mother until she went to Yewon School, which is the fine arts preparatory school in South Korea. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in piano performance from the Seoul National University. Upon graduation she came to the United States seeking her graduate degree. She holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance with Emphasis on Chamber and Collaborative Arts from the University of Texas, Austin. She studied with Anton Nel and Danielle Martin.

As a solo pianist, Jeehyun has performed in cities such as Seoul, Pohang, Pusan, Austin, and Ann Arbor. She was chosen to perform at the honors recital of summer music festivals in Aspen, Salzburg, and Vienna. She has also performed in master classes given by Lazar Berman, Russel Sherman, Rita Sloan, Nelita True, and Noel Flores. As a collaborative artist, Jee-hyun won the Sydney Wright Accompanying Competition. Also she collaborated with her father, tenor Chiwon Park in making a recording of Hymnals.

Recently Dr. Park has joined Concordia University as an adjunct faculty member. She currently is a member of Music Teachers National Association, Michigan Music Teachers Association, and the Ann Arbor Area Piano Teacher Guild. Her young students have been the winners of local competitions such as Bach Festival, Sonatina Festival and Student Achievement Testing. As a dedicated follower of Christ, wife of Heon-Jeong Kim, and mom of two precious sons, David and Joseph, Jee-hyun spends most of time for her family and giving private piano lessons to young children.

Collaborative Piano – Dr. Christina Chang

More information will be provided soon

Saxophone – Mark Kieme
Mark Kieme

Mark Kieme is one of the most frequently recorded saxophonists in the Detroit area today, having performed on over 100 Cds and several hundred ads and soundtracks over the last thirty years. An alumnus of the University of Michigan School of Music, Mark studied with Larry Teal and Donald Sinta.While at the University, Mark performed with University groups in every major concert hall east of the Mississippi, including Carnegie Hall , Alice Tully Hall, and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. After college, Mark studied jazz with noted jazz educator Harry Miedema of Indianapolis.

Mark is on faculty at Concordia University and Oakland University teaching Applied Jazz Saxophone, and jazz theory and improvisation. A regular member of the Paul Keller Orchestra, The Johnny Trudell Big Band, and The Craig Strain Orchestra, Mark has performed often with the Detroit Symphony, and can be heard in a vast array of settings throughout the year, from the concert hall, to ethnic festivals, jazz festivals ,local theaters, and many jazz venues. Mark is a founding member of The Detroit Reed Collective, and performs occasionally with noted early jazz scholar James Dapogny.

Mark has performed with Mel Torme, Doc Severinsen, The Temptations, The O’Jays, The Spinners, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, Tony Bennett, Maynard Ferguson, Deedee Bridgewater, Jimmy Haslip, Larry Coryell, David Sanborn, Frank Sinatra Jr, Kathy Lee Gifford,Patti Austin and many others. From 1986 –1991 Mark’s saxophone was the voice of the “Getting Fit With Denise Austin” show, aired twice daily on ESPN. He has played on commercials for Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Volvo,Lincoln, and GMC, as well as The Michigan Lottery, Greektown Casino, Budweiser, and McDonald’s.

An enthusiastic doubler, Mark has performed with the Concordia University Wind Ensemble on bass clarinet in Carnegie Hall.

Horn – Melanie Hellick

Melanie Hellick received her bachelor’s degree in French horn performance, with highest honors, in 1999. Her principal teachers have been Louis Stout of the Chicago Symphony, Bryan Kennedy of the Detroit Symphony, and William Caballero of the Pittsburg Symphony. Melanie is a member of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Ann Arbor Symphony Woodwind Quintet. She also performs with the symphony orchestras of Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, and Midland. Melanie serves as Adjunct Professor of Horn at Concordia University and also enjoys teaching a large private studio of horn players from Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. Recently, she gave a series of National Endowment for the Arts presentations to school children throughout mid-Michigan.

Low Brass – Gary Hellick
Gary Hellick

Gary Hellick began his musical training at the Interlochen Arts Academy, earning a Young Artists Award in 1985. He continued with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance cum laude at Wheaton College, IL, studying with members of the Chicago Symphony. He later served a Teaching Assistant post at Arizona State University while earning a Master’s degree in Music Performance and Pedagogy. Gary can be heard playing with the Detroit Symphony, Michigan Opera Theater, Detroit Chamber Winds, Fisher Theatre Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, Saginaw Bay Symphony, Motor City Jazz Orchestra, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. He is Professor of Trombone at Wayne State University, and part-time Lecturer at Eastern Michigan University. Gary has been Professor of Low Brass at Concordia University since 2006, and is the founder of the Concordia Low Brass Ensemble.

Bassoon - Jim Westhoff
Jennifer Fisher

After experimenting as a clarinetist, bassoonist, pianist, percussionist, drum major, composer, conductor, and basketball center-forward before college; Jim decided to focus on studying bassoon performance at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore where he received his bachelor's degree. Then, while performing with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, he earned masters' degrees in bassoon performance and music theory/composition at Wichita State University. He has also held positions with orchestras such as the Annapolis and Kenosha Symphonies, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Currently, Mr. Westhoff performs with the Jackson and Adrian Symphony Orchestras in southeast Michigan. He substitutes regularly with the Ann Arbor, Flint, and Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestras and is the bassoon instructor at Concordia University. His summers are spent at the Birch Creek Music Performance Center for young musicians in Door County, Wisconsin as an Associate Faculty member and Assistant Program Director. Jim is also a full-time dad to two beautiful, goofy, and adorable kids.

If your interested in watching Mr. Westhoff's next performance, check out his website here.

Flute – Dr. Nicholas Buonanni
Nicholas Buonanni

Dr. Nicholas Buonanni is a Trevor James Alto Flute Artist and performer, teacher, and arranger currently living in Lansing, MI. He is the Instructor of Flute at Concordia University Ann Arbor, and Flute Instructor for the University of Central Florida Summer Flute & Piccolo Institute. As a teacher and mentor, he has served as a Flute Instructor Fix-Term at Michigan State University and as the Flute Choir Conductor and Coach for the MSU Spartan Youth Wind Symphony for five years.

Dr. Buonanni was named the winner of The American Prize Instrumental Performance College/University Division competition and the 2017 Donald Peck International Flute Soloist Competition. He has also been a prize winner in numerous national and international competitions on flute, piccolo, and alto flute. As a soloist, he has performed with the MSU Symphony Band, Camerata Michigan, and UCF Wind Ensemble. Dr. Buonanni is an active orchestral musician who currently serves as a Performance Fellow with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. He also regularly performs with the Lansing, Flint, Southwest Michigan, and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestras.

As an arranger, Dr. Buonanni has works published by Alry Publications, LCC, and offers self-published new and custom arrangements. His flute ensemble arrangements have been performed at the National Flute Association Convention, Florida Flute Fair, and by flute choirs internationally.

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Dr. Buonanni studied with Dr. Nora Lee Garcia at the University of Central Florida and earned his MM and DMA with Professor Richard Sherman at Michigan State University. Outside of performing and teaching, he works as the Orchestral Librarian for the Lansing and Jackson Symphony Orchestras. Currently, he serves as the Social Media Director for the South Eastern Michigan Flute Association (SEMFA).

If you want to learn more about Dr. Buonanni's, check out his website here.

Trumpet – Dr. Matthew Kay
Matthew Kay

An innovative and versatile performer, composer, and teacher, Matthew Kay has played around the world with some of the world's finest musicians. With a desire to engage audiences with a unique experience, Matthew's performances span a diverse range of genres such as traditional British brass band music, classical music, electronica, jazz, gospel, and Roma gypsy music.

Matthew has played with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Lansing Symphony Big Band, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan Opera and the Southern Tier Orchestra. In 1998, he became the British Cornet Champion, shortly after joining the world-renowned Yorkshire Building Society Band. During his seven years with the band, they became widely regarded as the best brass band in the world winning the European Brass Band Championships a record six times, touring Europe and Australia, and recorded several internationally acclaimed CDs.

Matthew has a doctorate in trumpet performance at Michigan State University. He is the founder of Slavistar, a Roma gypsy style band, which blends traditional Eastern European folk tunes with jazz, funk and soul.

Clarinet – Dr. Emily Ji
Emily Ji

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Emily Ji is a clarinet player and educator who strives to continue the great tradition of French-American clarinet playing that began with Daniel Bonade. She has attended numerous festivals both in the states and abroad, such as the Marrowstone Music Festival, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Chautauqua Institution, and the Zodiac Music Academy and Festival located in Valdeblore, France. Emily has performed with renowned conductors including Stephen Rogers Radcliffe, H. Robert Reynolds, Timothy Muffitt, Edwin Outwater, Christian Reif, Joseph Young, Robert Moody, Jacomo Bairos, and Gemma New. Emily has collaborated with members of the San Francisco Symphony, and has shared programs with world renowned chamber ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet.

Emily received her BM in clarinet performance from the University of Michigan and her MM from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree from the University of Michigan. Her primary teachers include Jay deVries (Flint Symphony), Mark Dover (Imani Winds), Chad Burrow (Oklahoma City Philharmonic), Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Orchestra), and Carey Bell (San Francisco Symphony).

Oboe – Sarah Pinto

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Percussion – Adam Ginsburg

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Viola – Zoie Hightower

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String Bass – Emani Barber

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Composition – Bradley Philips

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