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Academics: School of Arts & Sciences

Department of Music

Through its excellent curriculum, interaction with great professors, and many performance opportunities, Chowan's Department of Music can help you maximize your potential and attain your goals as a musician.

Student Music ComnposerGraduates of our program have gone on to be:

  • Composers
  • Elementary Music Teachers
  • Middle School Band or Choral Directors
  • High School Band or Choral Directors
  • Performers
  • Recording Engineers

Youíll be given a firm foundation in music through the study of:

  • Music Theory
  • Sight Singing and Ear Training
  • Music History
  • Class Piano
  • Fundamentals of Conducting
  • Applied Music Applied Piano Lesson
  • Ensemble Experiences

Youíll study in at least one of these applied music areas:

  • Brass Instrument
  • Composition
  • Classical Guitar
  • Organ
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • String Instrument
  • Voice
  • Woodwind Instrument

Chowan offers you the opportunity to perform in the following major ensembles:

  • Chowan Chorus, a large choir that performs one concert on campus each semester and is open to students and area residents.
  • Chowan Singers, the universityís touring choir. Chowan Singers travels throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region presenting concerts in churches and schools. Every three years, members of Chowan Singers have the chance to go on an international tour. Recently, the group has performed in Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, and Italy, including a performance for Mass at St. Peterís Basilica in Rome. Membership is by audition only.
  • Chowan Winds, our symphonic band. Chowan Winds presents concerts on campus throughout the year. Membership is by audition only.
  • Meherrin Chamber Orchestra, which is made up of instrumentalists from Chowan and the surrounding area. The MCO presents concerts on campus and joins with the universityís choral ensembles for the annual Masterworks concert. Membership is by audition only.

If thatís not enough, we offer the following minor ensembles as well:

  • Cantare, a singing group thatís auditioned from Chowan Singers. Cantare performs madrigals, vocal jazz, and Christian contemporary music.
  • Guitar Ensemble, which offers opportunities for our guitarists to perform in a group.
  • Instrumental Chamber Ensembles, small groups made up exclusively of brass players, woodwind players, string players, or percussionists.
  • Jazz Band, and instrumental group that explores a variety of great jazz tunes.
  • Pep Band, which plays for home football games and some of the home basketball games.

Different career paths = different degree plans. Music majors can prepare to work in different musical fields through Chowanís B.A. in Music which offers you twenty hours of free electives to tailor your degree to your needs. In our B.A in Music with Music Industry Emphasis, you get fifteen hours of courses that include Survey of Music Business, Recording Studio Techniques, and an internship in a music-related business to prepare you for an exciting career in the music industry. If you want to be a public school music teacher, then the B.S in Music Education will help you get there! Our music education curriculum is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and approved by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Also, Chowan is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music, which means that our program meets national standards in content and delivery. You can be proud of your degree from Chowan University!

Music majors have the opportunity to participate in two music-related organizations that allow you to pursue your professional interests, make connections with others in your field of study, and build your resume.

Department of Music - Faculty

Michael Butrico

Michael Butrico
Associate Professor of Music
Director of Bands
Music Education Coordinator
(252) 398-6256
Daniel Hall 115  


"The Department of Music strives to provide an atmosphere of learning and development. To us, 'Faith in Your Future' means that we believe that those students who complete their degrees in music at Chowan University are well prepared for success in their career. The Department of Music also encourages prospective students to learn about the wide range of opportunities available to all students of the university, whether as a major in music, a minor in music, or a member of one of our many ensembles."

He joined the faculty of Chowan University in 2007.


  • Master of Music degree in Trombone Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from the University of
    Central Florida  

Courses Taught:

  • Chowan WindsApplied Brass
  • Chamber Ensembles
  • Chowan Winds
  • Conducting
  • Jazz Band
  • Pep Band
  • Materials and Methods for Secondary Music Education
  • Music Appreciation

Awards and Honors:

  • Principal Trombonist Mantovani Orchestra
  • Trombonist with Florida Lakes Orchestra and Space Coast Pops
  • Trombonist with New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players
  • Trombonist with Walt Disney World productions
  • All-American College Band 1992
  • Who's Who Among American's Teachers 2003 - 2005

Interests:Applied Brass Lesson

  • Home remodeling
  • Classic car restoration
  • Aviation
  • Learning Italian
  • Travel
  • Politics
  • Mechanical and engineering projects


Commission & Publications:

Sanford Soliloquy: for Trombone and Piano. Commissioned and performed by Michael Butrico, trombone. Music by James Wehr. World Premier March 11th, 2003 - Seminole State College of Florida. Wehr’s Music House Publishing.

Ballad for My Other Brother: for Trombone, Piano, and Narrator. Commissioned and performed by Michael Butrico, trombone. Based on the poetry of Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright. Music by James Wehr. World Premier Sept. 27, 2005 – Seminole State College of Florida.

Sailing the Seas: A Tone Poem for Solo Trombone. Commissioned by Michael Butrico. Music by Greg Barker. Spirit Song Music Publishing 2004.

Two Songs by Matalonis, Op. 6. Michael Butrico, trombone. Recorded July 2006. Wehr’s Music House Publishing. 

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James M. Guthrie

James M. Guthrie
Associate Professor of Music
Meherrin Chamber Orchestra Director
Music Industry Coordinator
(252) 398-6295
Daniel Hall 116  

“The music industry program at Chowan provides hands-on audio engineering training; we record and master dozens of concerts each year. Many of our music industry students enroll in Applied Composition in order to create music in a variety of styles - from classical to electronica to pop. As a composer, I find the Chowan community to be open to the free expression of new musical ideas. Student compositions are often featured on our popular New Music concert series. For recreation, I perform as principal fiddler of a local ensemble known as the Potecasi Creek String Band. The band specializes in local Old-Time music, though, as an LSU graduate with years of exposure to Cajun music, I recently introduced Cajun fiddle music into the repertoire.”

He joined the Chowan University faculty in 2005.


  • Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Composition from
    Louisiana State University
  • Masterís degree of Music from Louisiana State University
  • Bachelor of Music from Louisiana University  

Courses Taught:Meherrin Chamber Orchestra

  • Applied Composition
  • Applied Organ
  • Applied Strings
  • Basic Audio and Live Sound
  • Computer Applications for Music
  • Survey of Music Business
  • Music Theory and Aural Skills
  • Meherrin Chamber Orchestra

Awards and Honors:

  • Pi Kappa Lambda, National Honor Society in Music
  • Kenneth B. Klaus Young Composer's Competition, 1982
  • Louisiana State University Foundation, School of Music
    Dedication Prize, 1987
  • Tubist’s Universal Brotherhood Association (T.U.B.A.)
    Composition Contest, 1991
  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Standard Awards for Classical Composition: Every year since 1993


  • Deciphering new computer applications for music
  • Constructing musical number theory games

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Ralph J. Brabban II

Ralph J Brabban II
E. Lee Oliver Fagan Professor of Bible
Chairman, Department of Religion & Philosophy
Acting Chair, Department of Music

2006 Excellence in Teaching Award!

"Chowan's a great place for me to teach. It is important to me to be somewhere that gives students a chance to succeed. I feel like I can really make a difference here."

Ralph J Brabban II came to work at Chowan University in 2000.


  • Ph.D. degree in Biblical Studies from Baylor University
  • Master of Theology in Old Testament from Southeastern Baptist
    Theological Seminary
  • Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Bachelor of Music degree from West Virginia University  

Courses Taught, Chowan University:

  • Understanding the Bible: Texts and Contexts
  • History, Literature, and Religion of the Hebrew Bible (I)
  • History, Literature, and Religion of the Hebrew Bible (II)
  • History, Literature, and Religion of the New Testament (I
  • History, Literature, and Religion of the New Testament (II)

  • Jesus of Nazareth: Jesus at the Movies
  • Jesus of Nazareth: Parable, Narrative, and Social Discourse
  • Hebrew Prophets and the Contemporary World
  • The Intertestamental Period
  • Social World of Early Christianity

  • Christian Documents
  • Apocalypticism
  • Introduction to Biblical Languages
  • Theology, Life Stories, and Religion
  • Spirituality and Ethics in the World Religions
  • Heroines, Harlots, Housewives, and Other Images of Women
    in the Biblical Tradition
  • Travel Study: Turkey and Greece
  • Travel Study: Israel and Egypt
  • Travel Study: Italy
  • Islam
  • Internship (Supervising Professor)
  • Religion Capstone Seminar

  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Introduction to Ethics

  • The Ancient World
  • Freshman Seminar


Review of The Kings and Their Gods: The Pathology of Power by Daniel Berrigan in Journal of Church and State 2009; doi: 10.1093/jcs/csp013.

“Exegesis: Jeremiah 18:1-11” and “Exegesis: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1” in Lectionary Homiletics, September 2004.

“Alienation, Sex, and an Unsatisfactory Ending: Themes and Features in Stories Old and New” in Screening Scriptures, Trinity Press International, 2002.

Editor and lead articles for OPUS: A Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies, vols. 1 2.

"The Relationship of Mathematics to Other Fields of Study: An Interdisciplinary Look at Mathematics and Civilization," with Piotr Blass, Opus, vol. 1, 1990 91

"The Ark of the Covenant and the Bible: Holy Objects and the Divine" in SBC Today

"A Response to 'The Interrelatedness of Languages' by John Joseph Owens," Opus, vol. 2, 1991-92

"The Use of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in the Writings of the Apostolic Fathers."

"A Study of the Proper Noun SÃTÃN in the Old Testament."

Public and Guest Lectures:

“Philipp Melanchthon” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club 7/21/11)

“When is a Revolution not a Revolution? The Curious Case of I Kings 12:1-20” (Chowan University Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/19/11)

“When Is Easter?” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club 3/24/11)

“Halloween” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club 10/28/10)

“Some Thoughts on the Significance of the Land of Israel: The Influence of Location on Ideology” (Chowan University Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/19/10)

“Jamaica Medical Mission Trip” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club 1/21/10)

“Istanbul” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club 6/18/09)

“Athletic Imagery in Paul and the Pauline Tradition: A Possible Tie to the Pan-Hellenic Games” (Chowan University Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/20/09)

“Jamaica Medical Mission Trip” (Riverside Baptist Church 12/3/08)

“Chowan Study Abroad: Israel and Egypt” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club 7/17/08)

“Some Theological Underpinnings Opposing Environmentalism” (Chowan University Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/21/08)

“Intermediate Islam” (Ahoskie Rotary Club)

“Camels” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“Romans” (JBS church workers preparation)

“Biblical Texts Used to Justify Race-Based Slavery in the American Old South” (Chowan University)

Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/23/07)

“Italy” (Buckhorn Baptist Men)

“The Holy Land” (Buckhorn Baptist Men)

“Decisive Wars; Decisive Battles” (Chowan University Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/24/06)

“Romans” (JBS preparation for NC Directors of Missions 7/9-11/07)

“Johannine Epistles” (JBS for Buckhorn Baptist Church)

“Johannine Epistles” (JBS church workers preparation)

“Nehemiah” (JBS for Buckhorn Baptist Church)

“Nehemiah” (JBS church workers preparation)

“Elephantine” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“Types of Marxism: Never the Twain Shall Meet” (Chowan College Interdisciplinary Symposium 4/25/05)

“The Date of Jesus’ Birth” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“The Olympics” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“Marxism” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“Mark” (JBS for Buckhorn Baptist Church)

“Mark” (JBS for five churches in Roanoke Rapids, NC)

“Mark” (JBS church workers preparation)

“1 Corinthians” (JBS church workers preparation)

“Dead Sea Scrolls” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“Daoism” (Murfreesboro Rotary Club)

“Genesis 1-12” (JBS church workers preparation)

“Distinctive Issues in Baptist Higher Education” (NC Council on Christian Higher Education: Admissions and Financial Aid Directors)

“Islam” (Ahoskie Rotary Club)

“Islam” (Murfreesboro Methodist Men)

“The Baptist State Convention of NC and its Relationship to its Colleges and Universities” (NC Baptist Professors of Religion panel member)

"The Role of Women in the Ancient Near East"

"The Hebrew/Jewish Background Relevant to the Teachings of Paul"

"Malachi and the Concept of Covenantal Love"

"Creation Accounts in the Old Testament"

"Aristotelian and Neo Platonic Thought in Thomas Aquinas"

"Psalm 22 and the Cross: Individual Laments and Subsequent Use"

"Where Does Evil Come From?"

"Greek and Hebrew Music: the Background to Modern Western Music"

"Secular and Sacred Music in the Early Middle Ages"

"Interdisciplinary Studies in the Secondary School Curriculum"

"Prophets and Prophecy in Ancient Israel"

"Why is There Anti-Semitism?"

"Albert Einstein and his Theory of World Government: Some Underpinnings from his Jewish Background"


"Some Word Pictures in the Book of Amos"

"The Middle East: A Fragile Peace" (Harbour's Edge Lecture Series)

"The Changing Pace of British Life: Reflections on Recent Studies Abroad" (Harbour's Edge Lecture Series)

"World Religions and Inter-Cultural Communication"

“The Intertestamental Period” (5-week series at Lost Tree Village, 1997)

“’What Do You Call a Boomerang That Won’t Come Back?’ ‘To Get To the Other Side.’ The Reinvestment of the Book of Ruth and the Subsequent Effect on an Etymological Etiology” (Theta Alpha Sigma, 1997)

“The Apocrypha” (Lost Tree Village, February 3-March 3, 1997)

“Introduction to the Old Testament: Genesis” (Lost Tree Village, January 12-February 9, 1998)

“Apocalypticism” (Lost Tree Village, February 16-March 16, 1998)

“World Religions” (3-week series at Universalist-Unitarian Church lecture series, April 1999)

“Freedom of Religion in America” (Universalist-Unitarian Church, July 4, 1999)

“Walls and Bridges” (Keynote address for the Fellowship of Christians and Jews, November 19, 1999)

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Agnes Wan

Agnes Wan
Assistant Professor of Music
(252) 398-6316
Daniel Hall 204  

Agnes Wan joined Chowan University in 2014. Her primary research interest is in the area of performance wellness for pianists, and has published a book in 2008 titled, Physical and Mental Issues in Piano Performance: The Interrelationships between Physical Tension, Performance Anxiety, and Memorization Strategies. She is an active performer, presenter, and competition adjudicator, and was selected to join the roster of Steinway Artist in 2013.


  • Bachelor of Music (Hons.) degree from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
  • Master of Music (Piano) and Master of Music Therapy degrees from Loyola University New Orleans
  • Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa
  • Artist Diploma in Piano from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music


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Aaron Michael Rice

Aaron Michael Rice
Assistant Professor of Music
Director of Choral Activities

"At Chowan University, I look forward to walking alongside students as they journey through academia, growing as scholars, performers, professionals, and people. The Department of Music offers wonderful opportunities to hone oneís critical thinking skills, develop the tools of performance with high caliber instructors, interact with seasoned professionals, grow into marketable young professionals and artists, and learn from great mentors who model Christian virtues. Chowan University is an exciting community with abounding opportunities."


  • Doctor of Musical Arts Candidate, Church Music and Choral Conducting, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Master of Music, Sacred Music and Choral Conducting,
    East Carolina University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Biblical Studies and Music, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary  

Courses Taught or Teaching:

  • Chowan Singers
  • Cantare
  • Chowan Chorus
  • Music Appreciation
  • Choral Conducting


Phi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society

Edwin McNeely Music Award, presented to a Southern Baptist student with degree concentration in voice, music ministry, or conducting; based on character, personality and ability shown in leadership of congregational singing and conducting. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Book Reviews:

John R. Tyson. Assist Me to Proclaim: The Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley, in The Artistic Theologian, 1, (2012): 60-62.

T. David Gordon. Why Johnny Canít Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal, in The Artistic Theologian, 1, (2012): 69-71.


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Paula B. Pressnell

Paula B. Pressnell
Artist in Residence
(252) 398-6494
Daniel Hall 101  

"Chowan's Music Department gives students the opportunity to perform, compose, and learn the latest music technology in a caring environment. I enjoy working with students and getting to know them personally."

She joined the Chowan University faculty in 2005.

Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance cum laude from Salem College

Courses Taught:

  • Applied Piano
  • Class Piano
  • Accompanist for Applied Lessons and Choral Ensembles


  • Reading
  • Bicycling
  • Alternative Medicine

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