Associate Professor of Music, Department Chair
(BM. New York University; PhD. University of Pennsylvania) Professor Laganella is a composer who teaches Composition, Theory, Music Technology and American Popular Music at Wesley. His compositions have been performed by many leading artists and ensembles including The American Composers Orchestra, The Prism Quartet, Network for New Music, The Da Capo Chamber Players, Symphony in C (winner of their annual composer competition) and the Serafin String Quartet. His music has been featured at diverse venues, from Rock clubs to Carnegie Hall and has been featured at the 2012 NYC Sonic Festival of young composers, John Zorn’s New Rock Complexity Festival (NYC), the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Darmstadt New Music Festival (Germany), the World Saxophone Congress (United Kingdom) and with the Bergslagen Chamber Symphony Festival (Sweden) where he served as the Composer in Residence. The first recording of Laganella’s chamber music, The Calls of Gravity is available on the New Focus Recordings label. His compositions have received awards and honors from numerous organizations including ASCAP, Meet the Composer Fund, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The American Composers Forum, The Orchestra Society of Philadelphia and The Society of Composers Inc.
Laganella holds a Performance Certificate in electric guitar from Berklee College of Music and regularly perform with many Philadelphia based Jazz, Rock and Blues bands. He is a strong advocate of the electric guitar as a serious choice for composers of contemporary Classical music. His book, The Composer’s Guide to the Electric Guitar (available from Mel Bay Publications), is a manual addressing all performance practices and notational issues for the instrument.
Associate Professor of Music, Director of Choirs
(BM. Hart School of Music; MM. Boston University; DMA. University of Nebraska) Professor Wilson directs the College Choir and opera ensembles at Wesley College. Recent performances include Puccini’s “Suor Angelica,” Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” the annual “Arts in the Parlor” fundraiser, and the annual service of Lessons and Carols. He is an active advocate for collegiate choral singing in the State of Delaware, serving as the Delaware representative for NCCO (National Collegiate Choral Organization) and as the chair for college and university choirs with Delaware ACDA (American Choral Directors Association).
Wilson currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Delaware Choral Society. Founded in 1959, the DCS’s mission is to provide an outlet for the performance of choral masterworks in Kent County. Recent performances with the Choral Society include Handel’s “Messiah,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” and Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” He also serves as Director of Music at Wesley United Methodist Church in downtown Dover. Previous positions in church music include the Cathedral of St. Joseph’s in Hartford, Connecticut, Marsh Chapel at Boston University, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Trinity United Methodist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
As a baritone soloist, Wilson has appeared with the Manchester Choral Society of New Hampshire, the Braintree Choral Society, the Masterworks Chorale of Boston, The Marsh Chapel Choir at Boston University, the Choral Society of Greensboro, North Carolina and the Voices of Omaha. In the spring of 2008, Wilson appeared with the UNL University Singers at Carnegie Hall in a performance of Haydn’s “Harmonie Messe.” In the spring of 2012 he gave a performance of Baroque cantatas with the Wilmington-based chamber ensemble Mélomanie, and in January, 2015, he performed Franz Schubert’s “Winterreise.”
Direstor of Bands, Adjunct Professor, Woodwinds, Brass & Percussion
(BA. Music Education, Edinboro University, MM. Music Education, Boston University ) Brian Cass is the Director of Bands and Musical Theater, and teaches Applied Winds and Percussion at Wesley College. He has taught both at the Middle School level and High School Bands and Theater full time since 2000 before his appointment at Wesley. He has had extensive experience as a Marching Band Director, Consultant, and Field Show Designer.Since 1995, he has been a Certified Adjudicator of Bands, Color Guards, Percussion, Majorettes and Dance teams through both the New York Federation of Contest Judges, and now National Judges Association, in both music and visual captions. Brian is the current Coordinator of Tournament of Bands Chapter IX, representing the Delaware/Chesapeake Bay Region.
Adjunct Professor of Voice
(MM. Juilliard School; BM. Montclair State University): Soprano Valerie Bernhardt’s performances include the role of Abigaille in Verdi’s Nabucco with ArtsNaples World Festival/Opera Naples, the title role in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah with Coro Lirico (Morristown, NJ), and soloist in Bruckner’s Te Deum with the New Jersey Symphony (Newark, NJ). In 2012 Valerie debuted with Anchorage Opera in the World Premiere of Victoria Bond’s opera, Mrs. President.
Career highlights include her German operatic debut as Abigaille in Nabucco with Theater Pforzheim; New York City Opera debut as Rooster in Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen; First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with New York City Opera and Pittsburgh Opera; cover artist in Janácek’s From The House Of The Dead with the Metropolitan Opera; cover for the role of Elisabeth in Wagner’s Tannhäuser; title roles in Aida and Turandot, Abigaille in Nabucco, and Electra in Idomeneo with New Jersey’s Coro Lirico; Mimi in La Bohème with Pittsburgh Opera and Bohème Opera New Jersey; the title role in Tosca and Nella in Gianni Schicchi with Bohème Opera New Jersey; Valentine in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots and Lida in La Battaglia Di Legnano with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México. She earned her undergraduate music degree from Montclair State University and holds two graduate degrees in voice from the Juilliard School.
Adjunct Professor of Piano
(BM Radford University; MM Wilmington University): She received her bachelor’s degree in music from Radford University, where she attended on scholarship. She earned her master’s degree in education from Wilmington University. Additionally, she has studied and performed with instrumental and vocal ensembles at Boise State University and Northern Illinois University. She serves as pianist for several churches including Hope UMC of Dover, Ewell’s St. Paul’s UMC of Clayton, Beth Sholom Synagogue of Dover, and is the music director for Calvary Christian Academy of Dover. She is a member of Music Teachers National Association, and serves as the chairperson of the fundraising committee for the Southern Delaware chapter. She is also a member of the American College of Musicians’ National Guild of Piano Teachers.
Adjunct Professor of Guitar
(BM. Temple University; MM. University of the Arts) Jason Wolbach has been professionally teaching music at schools in the Tri-state area since 1999. His instruction has been received through various clinics, master classes, summer programs and school music programs. He performs regularly in a jazz format and with a10-piece corporate band. Wolbach has a published e-book titled The Evolution of Jazz Standards, which is featured on the website www.jazzstandards.com. Wolbach is an active member of the National Association for Music Education.