Faculty and Staff

Email information is followed by @css.edu unless otherwise noted.

Position: Assoc Professor/Dean, SAL
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 625-4983
E-Mail: BAmundson@css.edu
Website: View

Dr. Bret Amundson is the Dean of the School of Arts and Letters at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN where he also directs Bella Voce, the college's select treble ensemble. In addition to his work at CSS, Bret is the Artistic Director for the Lake Superior Youth Chorus and the Artistic Director of the Twin Ports Choral Project. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Saint John’s University, MN, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Saint Cloud State University, MN, a Doctorate of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Washington, and is currently in his final semester in the MBA in Change and Leadership program at The College of St. Scholastica.

Prior to his appointment as Dean, Bret was the Director of Choral Activities and Director of General Education where he led the College’s General Education program, including the first-year program, Dignitas, and directed the College’s auditioned ensembles, Concert Choir and Bella Voce. Under Bret’s direction, The College of St. Scholastica Choirs have performed regionally, nationally, and internationally. In 2014, Bret was awarded the College’s Benedictine Professorship in General Education and in 2015, Bret was named one of Duluth’s 20 Under 40.

Choirs under Bret’s direction have performed at state and regional conventions. In 2007, the Cathedral High School Concert Choir was invited to perform at the Minnesota Music Educator Association’s Mid-Winter Clinic. That same year, Bret was awarded the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota’s Outstanding Young Conductor Award. In 2015, Twin Ports Choral Project was invited to perform at the American Choral Directors’ Association State Conference and, in 2016, the North Central American Choral Directors’ Association Regional Conference. In 2017, Bella Voce was invited to perform at the American Choral Directors’ Association of Minnesota’s State Conference and in 2018, the Lake Superior Youth Chorus' Cantemus was invited to perform at that same conference. 

Maintaining an active schedule as clinician, adjudicator, presenter, and guest conductor for choral festivals and conferences around the country, Bret most recently conducted the 2017-2018 Minnesota All-State SSAA Choir. 

Bret is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, The College Music Society, Chorus America, and the VoiceCare Network, and currently serves as the North Central ACDA Repertoire and Resources Coordinator for Children’s and Community Youth Choirs.

Position: Associate Professor, Music
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 723-6038
E-Mail: mbuck@css.edu

A music educator for more than twenty-five years, Dr. Michael Buck has taught band, orchestra, classroom music, church choir and adult community choir. Currently, Dr. Buck serves as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands at The College of St. Scholastica. Previously he taught at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. His K-12 teaching experience includes elementary, middle and high school positions in suburban Minneapolis and at two overseas American international schools, located in Pakistan and Oman. He holds degrees from St. Olaf College, VanderCook College and The University of Southern Mississippi.


A lifelong learner, Dr. Buck especially enjoys conducting, research, and teaching future teachers. He is in demand as a clinician and frequently presents music education workshops locally, nationally and internationally. He loves to travel and has participated in musical activities throughout Finland, Norway, Italy, Poland and the Virgin Islands as well as New Orleans, Washington DC, Berlin, Rostock, New Delhi, Bombay, Singapore, Doha, Karachi, Islamabad, Dhaka and Kathmandu.


Dr. Buck and his wife – an occupational therapist and professional singer – nurture two aspiring musicians and fondly remember our recently departed venerable canine, J. "Sebastian" Buck.

Position: Associate Professor/Chair, MUS
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 723-7021
E-Mail: JCraycra@css.edu
Website: View

Dr. Jeremy Craycraft is current Chair of the Music Department and Associate Professor of Music at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. In addition to his classroom responsibilities, he teaches private percussion lessons and directs the college's Steel Band and World Drumming Ensemble. Prior to his arrival at St. Scholastica, Dr. Craycraft was the Percussion Instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Dr. Craycraft performs regularly with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, and has served as both substitute Principal Percussionist and Principal Timpanist. He has also performed for the Northern Lights Music Festival, Lyric Opera of the North, and the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra during his time in the Twin Ports. 

In the community, he served as the percussion director for the Duluth Superior Symphony Youth Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble programs from 2007-17, and continues to be a frequent visitor to local/regional schools to serve as clinician and to provide outreach opportunities for his own students. He has received grants from the Beim Foundation and Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation to provided drumming instruction to underprivileged youth in the Duluth community. 

His compositions are published by Bachovich Publications, and his scholarship has resulted in a first-of-its-kind Percussion Research Bibliography--an online publication available to all Percussive Arts Society members. Recent performance highlights include the 2018 PASIC Focus Day percussion ensemble performance with his students, and the 2017 PASIC All-Star Steel Band performance.   

Dr. Craycraft studied with and performed alongside members of the internationally acclaimed percussion trio Percussion Group Cincinnati at the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati where he received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the Baldwin-Wallace University and Conservatory.

Position: Assistant Professor, SAL
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 723-6526
E-Mail: sludwig@css.edu

Dr. Sarah Ludwig is Assistant Director of Choral Activities and Vocal Music Education at The College of St. Scholastica. She holds a BA in Vocal Music Education from the University of St. Thomas, MA in Music Education with a Choral Conducting concentration from the same institution, and DMA in Choral Conducting from Texas Tech University. 

At St. Scholastica, Dr. Ludwig directs the Women’s and Men’s choirs and co-directs the Concert Choir. She teaches courses in conducting, music education, freshman first-year common course (Dignitas), and supervises vocal music education student teachers. In the Duluth community, she is the Assistant Chorus Master of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Associate Artistic Director and Prelude Program Director of the Lake Superior Youth Chorus, and sings with the Twin Ports Choral Project.

Prior to her appointment at CSS, Dr. Ludwig taught public school in Minnesota, specializing in changing adolescent voices, and was Artistic Director of the St. Cloud State University Cantabile Girls’ Choir. Choirs under her direction have performed nationally at the Organization of American Kodály Educators conference (2011), regionally in Chicago Symphony Hall (2014), and locally at the Minnesota Music Educators Association Mid-Winter Clinic (2013). Dr. Ludwig is an active clinician throughout the state and currently serves ACDA-MN as R&R Chair for SSAA choirs in Minnesota, sits on the 20/20 in 2020 Task Force, and collaboratively serves with her LSYC colleagues as the Youth Choir Coordinator and R&S Chair for the North-Central Division of ACDA. She holds memberships in ACDA, NAfME, NCCO, and The VoiceCare Network.

Position: Professor, MUS
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 723-6182
E-Mail: Pschwarz@css.edu

Penny Schwarze is Professor of Music at the College of St. Scholastica, where she teaches stringed instruments and music history. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. degree is from Whitman College. Additional studies include a year of violin study in Angers, France, and summer workshops in early instruments. Research interests include violin performance practice of the Baroque and Classic periods. Her articles on Baroque violin techniques appear in the Journal of the Violin Society of America. She also writes program notes for the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra. She performs on Baroque violin and viola da gamba with the Center for Early Music Orchestra and with St. Scholastica early music ensembles. She also performs as a violinist with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra

Position: Assistant Professor, MUS
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 625-4876
E-Mail: nsusi@css.edu
Dr. Nicholas Susi is Assistant Professor of Music at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. In addition to teaching private lessons in piano, Dr. Susi also teaches music theory and coordinates the class piano program. He enjoys a multifaceted career living out his deep love for music; his varied activities in recent seasons have included solo and concerto performances, master classes, lectures, community outreach events, and competition adjudication.
Dr. Susi’s artistry has been recognized through prizes in such piano competitions as the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Award, the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition, and Klavierfestival Rösrath, while his research has been awarded prestigious grants from such organizations as the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD), Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation, and Legacy Foundation for the Arts. These and other grants enabled him to travel, study, and perform music across Europe; the experiences of researching Beethoven in Bonn, Debussy in Paris, and Mozart in Vienna have been central to his development as a musician and to his cosmopolitan understanding of musical styles. Other noteworthy appearances include two concerts for the Princess von Hohenzollern at her castle in Namedy, Germany, his semifinalist recital at the TivoliVrendenburg in Utrecht, The Netherlands during the 2014 International Franz Liszt Piano Competition, and concerto solos with such orchestras as the Omaha Symphony, Wiener Residenz Orchester, St. Louis Chamber Orchestra, and Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City. His debut recording, Scarlatti Now, was released in late 2016 and has received critical attention and nationwide radio airplay.
A native of St. Louis, MO, Dr. Susi completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan, with previous studies at the University of Kansas and at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln as a two-time DAAD grantee. Primary teachers include Zena Ilyashov, Jack Winerock, Nina Tichman, and Arthur Greene. For details on upcoming performances and further listening, please visit www.nicholas-susi.com.
Position: Admin Asst/Staff Accompanist
Department: Music
Phone: (218) 723-6778
E-Mail: EValine@css.edu
Website: View

Emily Valine is Staff Accompanist and Music Department Administrative Assistant at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. She accompanies the CSS Choral Ensembles (Bella Voce, Concert Choir, Vox Anima, and Cantus Corde), collaborates with vocal and instrumental music majors, and manages the Music Library. Emily holds a BA in Music (Piano Performance and Pedagogy) from St. Scholastica and is a proud alumna of the class of 2013.

Emily also teaches piano lessons to pre-college students in her private studio in Duluth. She is recognized by Music Teachers National Association as a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) and is involved with Minnesota Music Teachers Association as a site administrator for piano and theory exams and as president of the local Arrowhead Music Teachers Association. She is also an accompanist for the Lake Superior Youth Chorus and the Twin Ports Choral Project.

Adjunct Faculty