Living Legacies – Dr. William Krusemark
A dedicated maestro behind the Saint Mary Music Programs since 1978, Dr. Krusemark (affectionately called “Dr. K”) served as the mastermind behind our university’s soundtrack. Beyond teaching a full load of music courses and serving as the Sister Mary Janet McGilley Chair, Dr. K conducted the Community Band, the Concert Chorale, the Orchestra, the Handbell Choir, and the Preparatory Division—while also planning dozens of performances throughout the year, including concerts, Commencement, Mass, Matriculation, and Christmas Vespers.
“Of the hundreds and hundreds of programs I’ve prepared over the years, my favorite would have to be Christmas Vespers,” explained Dr. K. “It took about six months to get the program together, but it was an absolute joy to perform.”
“Thank you so much for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I knew I was just an alto, but you made me believe that I could not only reach some high notes, but that I should believe in myself and my ability to sing. You reignited my passion in singing and challenged me to read music and play instruments I never imagined myself playing. God bless you always!” – Wila Figueroa-Rivera
And what a delight it’s been to watch Dr. Krusemark lead with such professionalism and grace for 41 years, always singing the praises of his Saint Mary students above all else. For Dr. Krusemark, who started here when Saint Mary wasn’t yet co-ed, “generations of students” is a literal thing. He’s taught a number of students for whom he also now taught their daughters and sons. “It’s the love of music—the sharing it and preparing it with talented students, that’s energized me for so long.”
“Dr. Krusemark is an amazing instructor and director! He helped me improve my singing voice immensely and always challenged me to keep practicing and enhancing my skills. He is so knowledgeable, but also humble. He has a great passion for what he does and inspires others to feel the same. His work at Saint Mary will never be forgotten, as he‘s had such a lasting impact on anyone he teaches! He is kind, generous, and has a great (albeit subtle) sense of humor! He taught us great punctuality (I’m submitting this note at precisely 12:39 p.m., Dr. K!) Thank you for everything, Dr. Krusemark! You are an incredible man!” – Melissa Montesano, U’06
“Dr. Krusemark was one of our finest and most dedicated faculty members as well as a distinguished musician in his own right,” praised USM President Sister Diane Steele. “If dedication and devotion was measured in hours, Bill was exemplary. For Bill, teaching music and offering voice lessons was not a job, it was his mission and ministry … He had a gift—and still does—for bringing out and developing whatever talent he has in a given year, always finding music that enhanced our students’ natural gifts.”
In 2016, Sr. Diane Steele appointed Dr. Krusemark as the new “Sister Mary Janet McGilley Endowed Chair in Liberal Studies” (McGilley Chair)—a position honoring his commitment to and excellence in teaching, consistent with the example set by Sr. Mary Janet. Just two years prior, the Kansas Independent College Association also honored Dr. Krusemark for his teaching excellence with the “Faculty of Distinction” award.
“I was a freshman when Dr. Krusemark first came to Saint Mary. I had enrolled in the choir, and I looked forward to spending some time singing. While I was in the alto section, Dr. Krusemark walked by and heard me. He stopped and said, “You should be taking voice lessons.” I was very flattered, as I had just an average voice and was not a music major. As the years went by, my voice improved (or my confidence did), and I have sung in church as a cantor and for weddings and funerals. I owe this gift to Dr. Krusemark who singled me out all those years ago. I am grateful.” – Mary Denzel, C’82
Prior to arrival at Saint Mary, Dr. Krusemark sang throughout the United States and Europe, including more than 20 featured and supporting roles as a 16-year roster artist with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. In New York, he was a regular soloist with the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys and the National Chorale at Lincoln Center and on national tour. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Kansas and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Voice from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
More praise for Dr. Krusemark:
“Far too many memories to highlight just one! But, I always appreciated him gently pushing me to sing the full spectrum of my voice and allowing me to work on songs I found on random CDs. When we were seniors, he had us all buy “the Messiah”—and he said we would use it later in life. I still have my copy and it has come out from time to time. Best wishes on your next adventure!” – Olivia Robinson, C’96
“His knowledge and passion for music and vocal production were a huge benefit to me. He poured into his students all of his wisdom and expertise—and I’m so lucky to have had him in my life.” – Amy Stafford, U’06, M’08
The Very Air is Moved
In noted hush
Til he, with a certain look
A measured breath (inspiration)
Leads a great stirring
Of collective air
then voices, strings, woodwind, brass —
a symphonic percussion of all upon whom the sweet waves of sound
swirl, resound, uplift and echo
continually stirred and lowed by his hands, his very leaning
in this subtle dance of peak and valley
the music fills and carries, drinks up the resonance of hearts, arches, singers and hearers
continues beyond the confines of our privileged memories,
delight of the Cosmos.
Terri Walter Butel, C’79
Written after Vespers, 12/9/2018
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