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Adjunct Instructor of Music Christopher Cramer playing guitar

Christopher Cramer

  • D.M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.M., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.F.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

As a soloist and chamber musician, classical guitarist Christopher Cramer has performed in the U.S., Canada, and Asia. Recent concert engagements have taken him to major cities including Boston, Montréal, Singapore and Taipei among others. From the renowned National Concert Hall in Taiwan to the extraordinary Eastman Museum in New York, concert season highlights have included featured performances at a variety of unique and historic venues including the prestigious National Taiwan University, Suzuki Guitar Singapore, Bibliothèque publique Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc, the National Music Museum, as well as a broadcast performance on Wisconsin Public Radio’s acclaimed Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen concert series.

From college campuses to performing arts centers, Dr. Cramer has presented numerous solo recitals featuring an expansive repertoire that includes masterworks of the past as well as newly composed works by contemporary composers. Dr. Cramer made his concerto debut performing Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in D major for guitar and strings with the Madison East Orchestra. More recently, he has appeared with the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. As a chamber musician, Dr. Cramer has performed with a variety of instrumentalists and ensembles including the Beloit College Masterworks Chorus, the Edgewood College Chamber Singers, the St. Norbert Abbey Choir, the St. Norbert College Chamber Singers and Men’s Chorus, and the UW-Madison University Opera. Dr. Cramer also performs regularly, both nationally and internationally, with award-winning soprano Yi-Lan Niu. An advocate of new music, Dr. Cramer has collaborated with and premiered works by a number of contemporary composers including Hong Kong composer Chiwei Hui, New York-based composer Alexander Nohai-Seaman, and Texas-based composer Blake Henson.

Dr. Cramer currently serves on the faculty at Beloit College, Ripon College, and St. Norbert College where he founded and heads the guitar program. He also serves as the director of guitar instruction at the Madison Academy of Music in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to academic teaching, Dr. Cramer also presents programs in schools and community centers for those interested in learning more about the guitar and its music.

Dr. Cramer began his music studies at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc where he won a number of awards including the UW-Manitowoc County Fine Arts Award in the Area of Music. He went on to complete his undergraduate training at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music where he won first place in the annual WCM scholarship competition in classical guitar. Continuing his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Cramer earned both his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in music performance. While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Cramer undertook an intensive study of instrumental conducting, ultimately leading to a doctoral minor in the discipline and the opportunity to work with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Yukiko Grine

Yukiko Grine

Originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I am the music director of the Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra Inc. I teach orchestra at Oshkosh North and West high schools, a position I began in 2007, and am department chair of the Oshkosh West High School Music Department. I began my violin studies at an early age and received a bachelor of music degree in violin performance from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. I hold a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction and completed my Wisconsin teaching certification at Lawrence University.

Scott Elford

I have been a freelance percussionist in central Wisconsin for 25 years. My work includes orchestral performances with the Fox Valley Symphony, Wisconsin Philharmonic Orchestra, Weidner Philharmonic and more. I also have been the percussionist on the national tours of Broadway shows including runs of “Wicked,” “Newsies,” “Anastasia,” and “West Side Story.” I maintain a private studio and have been the clinician at high schools around the state.

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson

  • DMA, University of Colorado – Boulder
  • MM, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
  • B.A., Marian University

I am the Director of Choral Activities at Ripon College. I direct the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, and Choral Union. I also teach Conducting I and II, Choral Techniques, Music History I, and in the Catalyst curriculum. My research includes applications of Servant Leadership in Choral Rehearsals, and the use of concepts from Information Pedagogy to frame Conducting Pedagogy. I conduct Aperi Animam, a professional early music choir in Milwaukee, and sing with several professional choirs throughout the country. In my free time, I love to spend time with my family and friends, read, golf and cook.

Paul Dietrich

Paul Dietrich

Paul Dietrich has been described as “an apt bandleader, an exception composer, and a superlative performer” (All About Jazz) and “a skilled composer” (JazzTrail) and his music has been praised as “stunningly beautiful” (Audiophile Audition) and “captivating” (Chicago Jazz Magazine).

A composer, trumpet player and educator based in the Midwest, Dietrich has led the Paul Dietrich Quintet since 2012 and the Paul Dietrich Jazz Ensemble since 2016. The Chicago-based Quintet has released two albums: Focus (2017, ears&eyes) and We Always Get There (2014, Blujazz). The Paul Dietrich Jazz Ensemble’s 2019 album Forward features guest artist and world-renowned drummer Clarence Penn (Dave Douglas, Maria Schneider) alongside many of the Midwest’s best jazz musicians.

As a composer, Dietrich has completed over a dozen commissions for schools and organizations including the Isthmus Jazz Festival, Lawrence University’s Jazz Weekend, Ripon College, Madison College, the Mount Horeb Middle School Jazz Festival, and various high schools throughout Wisconsin. He is a two-time recipient of the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium’s Artistic Development Grant.

Paul holds a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet and jazz studies from Lawrence University and a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from DePaul University. As an educator, Paul has directed the Jazz Ensemble at Ripon College since 2021, and served as co-trumpet instructor with his wife, Jessica Jensen, while filling in for his former teacher, John Daniel, at Lawrence University in 2021. Previously, Paul taught at Prairie Music & Arts in Sun Prairie, WI, and directed the jazz ensemble at Madison East High School.

Marc Sackman

  • D.M.A., Flute Performance, Rutgers University
  • M.M., Flute Performance, Rutgers University
  • B.Mus. program (no degree), University of Illinois
  • B.A., History/Social Studies Secondary Education, Rutgers College
Jessica Jensen posing with her trumpet

Jessica A. Jensen

  • D.Mus., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.Mus., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.Mus., Lawrence University
A headshot of Erin Bryan.

Erin K. Bryan

  • D.Mus., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.Mus., University of Louisville
  • B.Mus., Lawrence University

American soprano Erin Bryan has been praised for her “deft” operatic characterizations and a voice that is “a lyric soprano of exceptional beauty.” Recent engagements include Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus), Anne Sexton/#2 (Transformations), and the Governess (The Turn of the Screw), and she is featured as Young Anne/#1 on the recently released world-premiere recording of Conrad Susa’s Transformations. An advocate for new music, she enjoys frequent collaboration with living composers, including the Midwest premiere of Laura Schwendinger’s Kay Ryan Songs and the world premiere of Dangerous New Avenues, a chamber duet for soprano and percussion by Justin Giarrusso. She has just completed her second season with the innovative Fresco Opera of Wisconsin, where she was heard in works by Mozart, Verdi, Floyd, and Bellini.

Dr. Bryan holds degrees from Lawrence University, where she studied with Steven Spears and Patrice Michaels, and the University of Louisville, where she studied with Edith Davis Tidwell. She earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied with Paul Rowe. Her research concentration is largely in the area of vocal repertoire, with particular emphasis on eighteenth-century opera.

As a member of the music faculty at Ripon College, Dr. Bryan instructs courses in applied voice study, vocal pedagogy, lyric diction, and musicology, and she also enjoys regular collaboration with both the school’s choral program and the theatre department.

Toby Shucha Portrait

Tobin C. Shucha

  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.Mus., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.M.E., University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

I serve as the director of bands and music education at Ripon College. I direct the Symphonic Wind Ensemble – our main concert band – and the Rally Band, our athletic band. I also teach all of our music education courses, and oversee the music education major. Other courses that I teach include music history and theory courses, and music technology. Like most professors at Ripon, I also contribute to our Catalyst curriculum. My research interests focus on the social structures within school bands, including social induction, belonging, and hazing.
I have a Bachelor of Music Education from UW – Eau Claire, and a Masters in Music and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from UW – Madison. Before Ripon, I taught for five years at UW-Richland, and for thirteen years in Wisconsin’s public K-12 schools.

Deb MacKenzie

Deb MacKenzie

  • Master of Music/Piano Performance and Pedagogy

My name is Deb MacKenzie, and I teach in the Music Department at Ripon College, as well as accompany all ensembles, juries and recitals. I have degrees from the University of Iowa (B.M. Music/Music Therapy) and UW-Madison (M.M. Piano Performance and Pedagogy). I enjoy watching students progress in their fields of study, and love watching their growth. I am married with four children, a son-in-law and a grandson.

Charles Stephan

Charles Stephan


Sandy Polcyn

Sandra Polcyn

  • M.A. in Education, Olivet Nazarene University
  • B. Mus., K12 Instrumental Music Education – Lawrence University
  • A.S., UW-Fox Valley
William Nelson

William Nelson

  • B.A. in Music Education, University of Wisconsin Parkside

I have been the clarinet and saxophone instructor at Ripon College since 1993. I was the band director at Ripon Middle School from 1988-2020. This fall I will be the band instructor at Xavier Elementary School in Appleton, and Seton Catholic School in Sheboygan. I am an active jazz performer throughout Wisconsin and I am a master adjudicator with the Wisconsin School Music Association.