Melvin P. Unger holds the endowed Riemenschneider Chair in Music at Baldwin Wallace University, where he serves as Director of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. He is the founding director of the Baldwin Wallace Singers, and since 2001 he has also conducted the Singers’ Club of Cleveland, a male chorus serving the greater metropolitan area of Cleveland with an annual subscription series. Organized in 1891, the chorus is Cleveland’s oldest arts organization—pre-dating even The Cleveland Orchestra! Appearances with these choirs have included performances at music conventions, the National Cathedral (Washington DC), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Chautauqua Institution (opening concert).
Before moving to the U.S. from Canada, Dr. Unger served for 18 years as music director of the Da Camera Singers in Edmonton, a choir of semi-professional caliber, known for its annual subscription series. He holds the D.M.A. degree in choral music from University of Illinois (where he was a University fellow), the M. Mus. degree in choral conducting from the University of Oregon (home of the Oregon Bach Festival), and the B. Mus. degree in choral music education from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). He was one of the first North American conductors to study with Bach specialist Helmuth Rilling at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt, while on a scholarship from the German government (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst).
Dr. Unger has collaborated with a diverse array of composers, soloists, conductors, ensembles, and theatrical directors. Among them are Grammy-award winning composers William Bolcom and Chen Yi, Grammy-award winning bass-baritone Mark Doss, Heldentenor Timothy Mussard (winner of the 2009 Prix Lauritz Melchior Award), Armenian-American composer Loris Chobanian (premiere of April 24 - Armenian Requiem), the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (Britten’s War Requiem), and Canadian Big Band legend, Tommy Banks (Canadian Country Music Awards). His ensembles have appeared at numerous national and international conventions and festivals, including the Toronto International Choral Festival and the Classical Music Seminar-Festival in Austria, where his choir served as principal chorus-in-residence, an honor that included a performance of Vierne’s Messe solennelle at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. His North American appearances have taken him to twenty-four states and provinces.
Dr. Unger has also published numerous scholarly articles, several critical music editions, and five books on choral-related topics, the most recent being Historical Dictionary of Choral Music (Scarecrow Press, 2010). He is a recipient of the American Bach Society’s William H. Scheide Fellowship (1996), two American Choral Directors Association’s Awards (1991, 1997), and the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors’ 1998 Book Award. He is a present or past member of numerous advisory boards including the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the American Bach Society.
During the 2012-13 academic year, Dr. Unger was in residence at Roosevelt University (Chicago), where he served in the President's Office as a Fellow with the American Council on Education.