The Department of Music provides a course of study in music within the liberal arts framework. By teaching music as a liberal art, the department appeals to an ancient tradition that places music among the most important disciplines for forming the intellect. To this end, our program pursues the acquisition of practical skills along with a rigorous intellectual formation in musical thought. The curriculum serves this end by focusing on three principal areas of musical discipline: applied music study (lessons on the major instrument, voice, or composition), music theory, and music history. The first three years of the major focus on these three areas of competency. In the third and fourth years of study, students begin to focus on their areas of interest or specialization.

Explore the Music Program

  • Music scholarships are available for Music Majors and Minors
  • Choral scholarships are available for non-Music Majors.
  • Let your voice be heard in one of our university vocal ensembles:
    • AMU Concert Choir
    • Chamber Singers
    • Opera-Music Theater Workshop
    • Men’s Schola Gregoriana
    • Women’s Schola Gregoriana
  • Students have participated in masterclasses with great musicians on the AMU campus.
    • Dr. Jeanie Darnell, Voice Area Coordinator, FGCU
    • Dr. Jason Bahr, Composer, FGCU
    • Raffaele Ponti, Music Director, Venice, FL Diocese
    • Steffanie Pearce, Artistic Director, Gulfshore Opera, FL
    • Sebastian Modarelli, Organist and Composer
    • Dr. Michael Baron, International Pianist, Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, FL
  • Students have access to live performances of great music on campus, as well as in Naples and Fort Myers.  Guest performers have included Vivian Choi, instructor at Concordia Conservatory, New York City, international pianist, Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki (Baritone/Opera Director, UNF), Dr. Camille Ortiz, Coloratura Soprano, and Duo Lana (Milana and Svetlana Strezeva). Select Music Alumni are invited back to campus to perform in our new Alumni Artist Series!

In addition to the core curriculum, music majors take the following courses

  • MUSC 104 Music Theory I
  • MUSC 105 Music Theory II
  • MUSC 106 Aural Skills I
  • MUSC 107 Aural Skills II
  • MUSC 108 Class Piano I
  • MUSC 109 Class Piano II
  • MUSC 111-114 Applied Voice, Organ, Piano, or Composition (8 credits required)
  • MUSC 204 Music Theory III
  • MUSC 206 Aural Skills III
  • MUSC 208 Class Piano III
  • MUSC 312 Survey of Western Music History
  • MUSC 430 Conducting I
  • MUSC 431 Conducting II
  • MUSC 440 Senior Recital or MUSC 441 Senior Project

8 credits of Choir (MUSC 200, MUSC 101M/W). Placement by audition. Note that access to subsidized applied music fees for majors and minors for a given semester requires participation in a mixed ensemble as determined by the department.

2 credits of Chamber Choir (MUSC 410/411)


Non-Curricular Requirements

  • Recital Attendance
  • Studio Classes

See the Academic Catalogue for course descriptions

AMU music alumni are now:

  • Studying for or have completed graduate degrees in Music Performance, Music Education, Musicology, Music Therapy, Music Theory & Composition, Piano Accompanying & Coaching, and other areas of music at schools around the country, including Indiana University, Westminster Choir College, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Iowa
  • Parish music directors
  • Seminary music directors
  • Teaching music at the primary & secondary levels, including in private and Catholic schools
  • Teaching voice, piano, and organ privately
  • Performing in Concert and as Young Artists in Opera and Musical Theater

AMU students have:

  • Sung as soloists and in the chorus of Opera Naples
  • Served as paid core singers of the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida (Ft. Myers)
  • Performed at Artis-Naples, including on the magnificent Casavant pipe organ in the Festival of Great Organ Music
  • Gained valuable experience as organists and cantors at masses in the AMU Oratory & at other local churches
  • Worked as music directors at local parishes, including Saint Raphael Catholic Church in Lehigh Acres
  • Interned with music directors at local parishes, including First Presbyterian Church of Naples
  • As string and woodwind instrumentalists, performed chamber music in AMU courses and with vocal organizations at AMU and Ave Maria Parish Church
  • Taught piano and string lessons privately to young musicians in the Ave Maria community
  • Sing in the chorus of Gulfshore Opera
  • Performed with the Naples Philharmonic Chorus

Internship Opportunities: 

  • Student Internship/Scholarship with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida
  • Singing Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony at Corpus Christi Chapel, Naples, FL
  • Playing the organ at Corpus Christi Chapel, Naples, FL or St. John Evangelist Catholic Church
  • Student Internship/Assistant with Gulfshore Opera
  • Student Internship/Assistant with the Charlotte Symphony

Honor Societies/Organizations:

  • Pi Kappa Lambda – music honor society
  • Church Music Association of America (CMAA)
  • Society for Catholic Liturgy
  • National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)
  • American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA)
  • International Alliance for Women in Music

Camille Ortiz, D. Mus.

Adjunct Instructor of Music
Education:  B.A., Voice/Violin Performance, Oral Roberts University; M.A., Voice Performance Manhattan School of Music; D. Mus., Vocal Performance, University of North-Texas College of Music
Office: LIBR 250

Alexandra Carlson, D.M.A.

Adjunct Instructor of Music – Piano

Alexandra Carlson has performed solo and chamber works throughout Europe, Russia, and the USA.  She won prizes at the London International Piano Competition, the Valentino Bucci International Competition, the Maria Yudina International Piano Competition, and the Hopes, Talents, Master Competition.  The New Horizons Project awarded her a fellowship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Dr. Carlson’s festival performances include the Atlantic Music Festival, the US-Russia Education Bridge Project Festival, and the Baltic International Piano Duo Festival.  As a soloist, she has performed with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, the 5th Avenue Chamber Orchestra and the Junger Künstler Bayreuth Festival Orchestra.  Dr. Carlson earned her Master of Piano Performance, and Doctorate of Musical Arts, cum laude, from the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory.  Recently, she made her conducting debut with Classic Chamber Concerts.  An adjunct professor of music at Ave Maria University, Dr. Carlson lives in Naples, FL.  For more information please visit


M.M Piano Performance, State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, St. Petersburg, Russia; D.M.  (Chamber Ensemble), State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory

Taylor Ferranti, D.M.A.

Chair of the Music Department; Associate Professor of Music

Dr. Ferranti is an accomplished vocal pedagogue, singer, pianist, and conductor. He formerly served as a tenured Associate Professor of Music at Cedarville University in Ohio. A versatile musician, he has sung leading tenor roles in opera and music theater, has served as a minister of music in several churches, and maintains a private voice studio in Naples, Fl. His teachers have included several international authorities in the field of voice and voice science, including Dr. Stephen Austin, Dr. Ingo Titze, Professor Oren Brown, and Cornelius L. Reid. Dr. Ferranit’s research interests center on historical vocal pedagogy, especially how ancient pedagogical practice may be used to foster 21st-century results in the singing voice. At AMU he teaches Private Voice Lessons, Aural Skills I-IV, and conducts the AMU Choir.

Education: Vocal Performance, Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam; M.Mus. in Vocal Performance, Boston Conservatory; D.M.A. Vocal Performance & Voice Science, Louisiana State University; Certificate of Vocology, National Center for Voice and Speech

Office: Canizaro Library 251
Phone: (239) 280-1592

Brice Gerlach, Ph.D.


Dr. Gerlach received his Bachelor and Master degrees in Organ Performance from Eastman School of Music and Indiana University, respectively.  He was also awarded the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. He completed his doctorate in Choral Conducting from Indiana University. Dr. Gerlach is also Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Naples and Assistant Director of the Artis—Naples Choruses.

Education: B.M., Organ Performance, Eastman School of Music; M. Mus., Organ Performance, Indiana University; Ph.D., Choral Conducting, Indiana University

Isabelle Aubin

Isabelle Aubin, Staff Collaborative Pianist

Pianist, Vocal and Diction Coach, Isabelle Aubin recently relocated to South West Florida from Rochester, New York where she held positions with Rochester Lyric Opera, Buffalo State College, Nazareth College of Rochester, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, Genesee Valley and Orchestra Chorus.

Recently, Isabelle joined the faculty at Ave Maria University where she is staff pianist and vocal coach.

Ms. Aubin has also worked in Italy for Centro Studi Italiano, Sessione Senese per la musica e l’arte, Festival di musica da camera, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, the Chœur Symphonique de Saguenay Lac St Jean, Camp Musical du lac St Jean and the College d’Alma, in Canada. Isabelle has prepared and performed full opera productions for Société d’arts Lyriques du Royaume, Opéra Plume, Universitié du Québec, Camp Musical du Lac St-Jean, Festival di musica da camera and Rochester Lyric Opera.

Ms. Aubin received her B.M., from the Conservatoire de Musique du Quebec; M.M. in piano performance from Montreal University; and teaching certificate from the University of Quebec, with continued studies in coaching and collaborative piano at the Mozarteum of Salzburg, American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Song Fest, Sessione Senese and Banff Centre.

Seunghee Lee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Music

Composer/Pianist Seunghee Lee holds Ph.D. and M.F.A. degrees from Brandeis University, M.M. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and B.M. from Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea.  Lee serves as Assistant Professor of Music teaches Tonal and Advanced Music Theory, Class Piano, Music Composition and Piano lessons. Performances of her compositions have taken place at notable venues in Germany, Finland, Italy, South Korea and across the United States by Ensemble Uusinta, Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, McCormick Percussion Group, Ensemble Strings, and Hammers, among others. Lee has received artist residencies and a fellowship from Atlantic Center for the Arts and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, ASCAP Fellow Scholarship from Composers Conference at Wellesley College, and recently won 2017 International Alliance for Women in Music Annual Concert Competition.

Education: B.M., Music Composition, Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul, Korea; M.M., Music Composition, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; M.F.A., Music Composition and Theory, Brandeis University; Ph.D., Music Composition and Theory, Brandeis University
Office: Canizaro Library 252
Phone: (239) 280-1588

Mr. Richard Dittus, Jr.

Adjunct Instructor of Music
Education:  B.A., Music, Ave Maria University; M.M., Music Performance, University of North Florida

Richard F. Dittus, 2008 – is completing his Masters in Conducting at the University of North Florida and is the Director of Music at Saint Peter the Apostle Church, Naples, Florida

Brendon Ford, 2009 – Currently a novice with the Dominican Friars of the Western Province; formerly Director of Music at Saint Mary Star of the Sea, Oakland, CA

Meghan King, 2009, has completed her M.Mus. at Westminster Choir College and her D.M.A. at University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.  She is now Director of Sacred Music at Saint John the Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas

Elizabeth Gotlund, 2010 (organ & sacred music), went on to graduate school at the University of Iowa, where she has now received her M.Mus. and D.M.A. in Organ Performance. She is currently organist at Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Iowa City, IA, and also at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Riverside, IA.

Teresa Asper, 2011 (organ & sacred music), is Music Program Director at Holy Family Academy in Manassas, VA.

Jacob Mathew, 2013 – Cantor at Saint Angela Merici Church, NOLA, and core tenor at Saint Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, LA

Jensine Caranto, 2014 – M.Mus. in vocal performance from the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin.  Music teacher at Great Hearts Northern Oaks Charter School, San Antonio, Texas

Paul Dittus, 2014, (voice), is Director of Music at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Gilbert, AZ.

Jerome Cole, 2016 (organ; double major in Music and Physics), is studying for the M.Mus. in Organ Performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, IN.

Colleen Kilpatrick, 2016 (piano & organ; AMU valedictorian ex aequo), is completing her masters in Collaborative Piano at the University of North Texas (Denton).

Regina Russo, 2016 (voice), is teaching at Mason Classical Academy in Naples, FL.

Emily Swope, 2016 (voice),  is completing her Masters in Liturgical Music (Vocal Performance) at the University of Notre Dame.

Kaitlyn Walton, 2016 (voice; double major in Music and Classics and Early Christian Literature), is teaching at Mason Classical Academy in Naples, FL.

Mary Joy Silmaro, 2017  is a Masters candidate in Organ Performance at Rice University

Maria Regina Avila de Lizaur, 2017 teaches music at the Royal Palm Academy in Naples, FL.

The Marshall-Ogletree Organ

Inaugurated on the Feast of the Annunciation, 2009, the Opus 5 Marshall & Ogletree four-manual organ was designed specifically for Ave Maria University’s Oratory. The instrument was engineered by the best technical and organ design experts in the country. The instrument serves as both a liturgical instrument and as the principal instrument for organ instruction in the University. Its flexibility and complete versatility make it an exceptional teaching instrument. It can — without exaggeration — do anything.


The music department possesses several fine instruments for instruction and performance, including three brand-new Yamaha pianos. The principal performance instrument is a Yamaha C7. Yamaha considers this model the flagship of their Conservatory Concert Collection, “appearing on famous concert stages, international competitions and prestigious music events throughout the concert world.”

The Ave Maria Catholic Church

The choirs of Ave Maria University enjoy the opportunity to perform in one of America’s most unique pieces of ecclesiastical architecture – the soaring arches of the Ave Maria Catholic Church.

O’Bryan Performance Hall

The Ave Maria Music department has the wonderful opportunity to perform in the beautiful, new O’Bryan Performance Hall which seats 400 people and has a state of the art audio visual system.

Choral Performances

Student Performances

Are there scholarship opportunities?

Yes! Ave Maria University offers a variety of scholarship opportunities, including a very competitive Academic Scholarship based on GPA and standardized test scores, as well as merit-based Music Major Scholarships.  AMU now offers a new Choral Scholarship as well, which is available to any qualified student (non-music majors) in connection to performance in an AMU choral ensemble.

In what performance areas can students concentrate at AMU?

Students can complete the major via piano, organ, and voice.  Students take weekly lessons throughout the duration of the program.

Will an AMU music degree get me into graduate school?

The bachelor of arts degree in music is generally accepted as an appropriate credential at most graduate schools of music. Of course, no guarantees can be made by any institution that a graduate will gain entry to graduate school, or even to his chosen field of employment, but AMU music graduates have been accepted into graduate music programs including those at the University of Iowa, Westminster Choir College, Notre Dame University, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, University of Southern California, University of North Texas (Denton), Rice University, and the Butler School of Music at University of Texas at Austin .

In order to enter the music program, must I apply and audition for the music major prior to coming to AMU?

Yes.  Normally, students enter as music majors.  We do consider matriculating or transfer students, but our entry criteria are higher in those instances because the student will typically have less time to complete the major.

How can students not majoring in music participate in music at AMU?

The music department offers several courses that are open to non-music students, including: choral ensembles; chamber music, which regularly includes stringed and other instruments; private lessons (piano, organ, or voice); and music theory and musicianship.   Qualified student instrumentalists perform with the University choir at liturgical events on campus.  The music minor is a further option for students sufficiently proficient in piano, organ, or voice.  The Choral Scholarship is available to qualified students regardless of major, in connection to performance in an AMU choral ensemble.

What is the music minor?

The minor in music is a good option for students who love music and wish to continue to study it, but intend to major in another area.  The coursework consists of the first part of the major coursework:  first-year music theory and musicianship, music history, lessons, and ensemble.  All other music coursework is also open to minors (with prerequisites).   Most students spread the music minor coursework across three years or four years as they complete their major, but it can sometimes be completed in two years.  The credits required to complete the music minor fit within the usual 128 credits required for a degree at AMU.

Does the music department participate in liturgical musical activities?

Yes! The cultivation liturgical music tradition of the Church is an institutional commitment for the department of music at AMU.  We participate in Masses at the Ave Maria Catholic Church, and we frequently participate in liturgies at various parishes in the region.

What instruments are available for student practice, instruction, and performance?

Yamaha G3

Yamaha C7

Steinway Model A

Mason & Hamlin Grand

Marshall & Ogletree Organ, Opus 5 (4 manuals)

Several smaller pianos and organs for practice

How many students currently are majoring in music at AMU?

The AMU Department of Music is currently home to about 38 students.  Our program is large enough to mount major performances and engage in stimulating discussion and mutual learning from others, but small enough to ensure personal attention, an outstanding student-to-faculty ratio, and a strong community bond.

What if I have more questions? Please feel free to contact us with any other questions. We would be happy to hear from you!

Choral Scholarships

The Department of Music has an active choral program that is becoming recognized throughout Southwest Florida for its dynamic performances. We are pleased to offer Choral Scholarships to incoming students who are not majoring in music.  The scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate strong vocal and sight reading skills, and have earned a minimum ACT score of 23 or SAT equivalent.  Students holding a choral scholarship maintain membership in an AMU mixed choral ensemble each semester.

Choral scholarships are renewable for up to four years, and are made in addition to other institutional scholarships a student may receive. Auditions for the Choral Scholarship are available on-campus only.  Please refer to the other Auditions tabs see the Choral Scholarship Auditions page for information on how to audition.

Music Major Scholarships

The Department of Music is pleased to offer competitive Music Major Scholarships to incoming students majoring in music.  Awards are made to those students who qualify via their audition performance and sight reading ability.  All music major auditions completed before April 30 are considered for the Music Major Scholarship. Priority consideration is given to on-campus auditions.

Music Major scholarship awards are renewable for up to four years, and are made in addition to any other institutional scholarship awards a student may receive.  Please see the Music Auditions and Major and Minor Auditions pages for more information. Please refer to the other Auditions tabs for information on how to audition.

General Audition Requirements for the Degree Program in Music

The Department of Music accepts students in piano, voice, and organ.  Admission to the music degree program is dependent upon the successful completion of:

    • An audition performance in piano, voice, or organ
    • Diagnostic evaluations in sight reading
    • An interview with Music faculty

Successful auditions will demonstrate technical and musical maturity, and the potential for advanced study in music.

Auditions may be performed on-site during a campus visit or recorded and submitted online via an emailed YouTube video. On-site auditions are highly recommended. Campus visits for auditions should be scheduled through the Admissions Office. If a recorded audition is the only means by which a candidate can complete an audition, preference is given to video recordings.

We encourage prospective music students to schedule their audition on Fridays during the year. Preferred dates for music student auditions are:

Friday, January 18, 2019
Friday, February 15, 2019
Friday, March 15, 2019

Besides being able to take a campus tour, students who audition on one of the​ Fridays listed above will have the opportunity to attend a Music Department Mini-Student-Recital scheduled for 5pm in the Private Dinning Room on those dates.

Eligibility to Audition

Piano:  At least four years of piano lessons are required to be eligible to audition, with at least one year immediately prior to the audition.

Voice: At least one year of lessons prior to the audition is required for eligibility.

Organ: At least one year of lessons prior to the audition, along with sufficient background on the piano, is required for eligibility.  Additional years of lessons on the organ, rather than piano background, may also satisfy the eligibility requirement.

All auditioners should be seniors in high school, or otherwise prepared to enter the university in the fall following the audition.  Exceptions to eligibility requirements are made only with the permission of the Department of Music.

Audition Repertoire Requirements

All audition pieces must be from the classical repertoire. Broadway and popular styles are not acceptable. Students may perform 2 – 3 works, which should show contrast in musical style and tempo. Repertoire should include at least TWO of the following and must be performed from memory:

  • Italian Art song or aria
  • German lied
  • French melodie
  • American art song

In order to secure an accompanist (provided free of charge for all vocal auditions), please send a PDF of your music at least one week in advance or send a hard copy at least two weeks in advance to the Music Department.

By Email: PDFs may be emailed to the departmental assistant, Katia Rezende ( Please include your full name and date of audition in the subject of the email.


Drop off: Accompanist parts may be dropped off M-F between 9am-5pm at the Ave Maria University campus, on the second floor of the Canizarro Library


By Mail: C/O Katia Rezende Ave Maria University 5050 Ave Maria Blvd Ave Maria, FL 34142

    • Vocalists must perform from memory. An accompanist is provided for vocal auditions.
    • Pianists are very strongly encouraged to perform from memory.
    • Organists need not perform from memory.
Audition Application
Apartment/Unit Number

Please list the title and composer for the work(s) you will perform in your audition


Music Major Auditions

Prospective Music Majors and Minors may either audition on campus or submit an audition video electronically. Please follow these steps for a smooth music major audition process:

  1. Apply.  Auditioners must submit both the Audition Application form and the general University ApplicationExternal link.  The deadline by which the audition application must be submitted is two weeks prior to the intended audition date. Please clear the date with the Music Department before making travel arrangements. If auditioning on-site, PDFs of all piano accompanist parts must be emailed to the departmental assistant at least one week prior to the audition.
  2. Schedule your campus visit or submit audition video.  If auditioning on-site, fill out the Campus Visit form with Admissions to arrange your visit schedule and ensure your on-campus arrangements (for students intending to stay overnight). If submitting online, upload your audition video to YouTube and email the link to our departmental assistant.
  3. Perform your on-campus audition.  The audition consists of the audition performance, sight reading, and an interview with the music faculty.  Please review the information on the Audition Requirements page for more details.
  4. Await admissions and scholarship decisions.  Students must be accepted by both the university and the Music Department to pursue a degree in music.

Music Minor Auditions

Admission to the music minor is by audition only.  Auditions for prospective music minors normally take place just prior to the start of the semester in which the student intends to begin the coursework for the minor, though students may audition at an earlier date.  Music minor auditions follow the same requirements and process as auditions for the major.

Auditions for the Choral Scholarship

Incoming students not intending to major in music may complete an audition for a Choral Scholarship during a campus visit.  Music Minors are also eligible for the Choral Scholarship. Auditioners should have a strong vocal or choral background and good sight reading skills, and must earn a minimum ACT score of 23, or SAT equivalent.  To schedule a choral scholarship audition, please complete the Audition Application form, and the Campus Visit form.

The audition consists of:

    • Vocalises (we will demonstrate what to do.)
    • Performing a prepared piece. This piece can be anything you choose: a solo piece, your part of a choral work you have studied, etc.
    • Sight reading

Dr. Taylor Ferranti
Music Department Chair

Ave Maria University
Department of Music
5050 Ave Maria Blvd.
Ave Maria, FL 34142
Phone: (239) 280-1592