The WSU School of Music is now under new leadership, with former Director Greg Yasinitsky stepping down and associate professor Dean Luethi taking over.
Luethi, who hails from Wisconsin and identifies as a Green Bay Packers fan, teaches several vocal ensembles and other classes, including a treble choir, tenor and base choir, choral methods and studio voice. He also supervises student teaching.
He said he first realized his passion for music in middle school, when a teacher told him he had a talent for it.
“I was just thinking it was a fun opportunity,” he said, “not realizing this might be a career path.”
He said music gave him confidence and his early experiences led him to the realization that he had the ability to study it after high school. Growing up, he was involved in choir and musicals, and at one point he set his sights on Broadway. After he went to college, he decided to make teaching music the focus of his career.
Since graduating, he’s taught music at various public schools and three state universities, and also earned a doctorate. Outside of teaching, Luethi has performed solos and has been a member of several ensembles and musical groups.
He traveled to Poland and Germany with the Richard Zielinski Singers, singing baritone, and accompanied WSU students to the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, where he co-directed a performance. He has also performed with the WSU faculty ensemble and performed a solo recital on campus.
As director of the School of Music, he hopes to raise the digital profile of students, faculty and the program.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to make the great things that happen on the Palouse more accessible worldwide,” he said.
Through use of WSU’s livestreaming technology, he hopes to broadcast more faculty and student recitals, as well as keep the public updated on the school’s international activities. He said he wants to make instructional videos from faculty members and host them on the school’s website.
Luethi said he will still direct a choral ensemble and continue to teach, but with a reduced class load. One of his biggest goals is to make sure he’s available to students and faculty on a regular basis.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said. “Creating a dialogue between faculty and students, between the faculty and myself and the students and myself. It does require a little bit less teaching of me, I realize that. But I’m still looking at this job as an opportunity to interact with students in a different way.”
Yasinitsky said he wishes Luethi well, and he hopes the administrative side of directing a school amid university-wide budget concerns isn’t too overwhelming.
“There were lots of positive things that happened during a time of diminishing resources. I’m gratified about that,” he said. “There are things you can do as an administrator that you can’t do as a faculty member. But it’s … a never-ending, relentless kind of job, it can kind of wear you out after a while.”
Now that Yasinitsky is no longer an administrator, he said he is looking forward to focusing on his passion for composing and mentorship.
“I made time somehow, but I have a feeling it’s going to be easier,” he said. “I missed the students and I like teaching a lot.”