Leland Robert Tetz

1938 - 2017

Leland Tetz, singer and conductor, taught and served as an administrator in two college and two academy music programs in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. He was widely known for his work and touring with choral groups at those schools and was an effective manager of and adjudicator and guest conductor at numerous festivals and choral events in the U.S.

Leland was born in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, on August 14, 1938, and spent his childhood there and in Florida, the only child of William A. and Rachael Weis Tetz. He began singing at an early age and started serious study in voice at Forest Lake Academy in Florida, where he studied with Dana Ramey. She encouraged and inspired him to pursue music, and following graduation from FLA in 1956, he enrolled as a music major at Washington Missionary College, later Columbia Union College and now Washington Adventist University, in Takoma Park, Maryland.

At the end of his first year at WMC, Tetz transferred to Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, where he studied voice with Dorothy Ackerman and completed a B.Mus.Ed. in 1960. Following graduation, he returned to Maryland, where he taught voice, was director of choral activities, and oversaw the music program at Takoma Academy.

During his ten years at TA, Tetz created a choir of select singers that toured in the eastern U.S. and appeared annually on national television. He also organized a select youth ensemble that appeared in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1969 for the first international Youth Congress sponsored by the church. In the following year he organized and directed a choir comprised of students from ten academies that sang at the 51st General Conference Session in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While teaching at TA, Tetz completed an M.Mus. in vocal performance at Catholic University in 1966 and then completed classwork for a doctorate.

In 1970, Tetz accepted a position at Pacific Union College, where he conducted choral organizations at both the graduate and undergraduate level. In his four years there, he increased choir participation and conducted an annual series of concerts at Grace Cathedral in nearby San Francisco. He also developed and directed a sound track for a movie studio in SF and administered festivals for the California Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association. From 1972 to 1974, he served as First Vice-President for ACDA in Northern California.

Tetz returned to Maryland in 1974, where he became director of the choral program at Columbia Union College. His responsibilities at CUC during the next three years included direction of its choir and that at nearby Sligo Church. He expanded the concert series at the church, on campus, and in the community and increased CUC choral groups' exposure through participation in sunrise services at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that were broadcast on world-wide radio for U.S. Armed Forces and a three-week European tour in 1975.

The tour, taken by the 24-member Pro Musica, select CUC choir, gave a number of secular and sacred concerts in world famous cathedrals and churches in six countries. Van Knauss assisted on the tour, accompanying the choir on organ and giving several recitals. The tour was a memorable one, with its concerts, which were received with calls for encores and standing ovations; sightseeing which included visits to Stonehenge in England and the Louvre in Paris; and an appearance at the General Conference Session held in Vienna, the first ever GCS meeting scheduled outside the U.S.

Beginning in that same year, Tetz also served as the minister of music at the Chevy Chase Baptist Church, a position he would hold for a decade, until 1985. From 1981 until 1987 he developed and directed a choral ensemble that assisted in public relations at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. In his five years of leadership of the WAH Chorale, they gave concerts at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center, White House, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and Washington Cathedral. They also took several European tours, including one to England, where they sang in Coventry Cathedral, and another to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in 1987, where they participated in the annual Mozart Festival in Salzburg.

Beginning in 1976, shortly after his return to Maryland, he became an adjudicator with National Events, an organization that scheduled major music festivals throughout the U.S. He would adjudicate a number of events for them over a period of several years.

In 1983 Tetz returned to CUC, to serve again as director of choral activities. During the next seven years he taught voice and revitalized the choir program by increasing recruitment and developing financial support for members of the groups. In the 1986-87 school year, he organized and conducted a choral festival hosted by the college for academies in the Columbia Union, the first in a series of festivals that would be held in alternate years for choir and band. In that same year he also took a ten-day tour in England with the CUC Pro Musica choir.

Tetz became chair of the music department in 1987, a position he would hold for the next three years. During that time he increased the number of music majors, adjunct faculty, and scholarship resources. He also toured again to Europe with Pro Musica and was in Salzburg during another Mozart Festival. In the spring of 1990, Tetz resigned his position and moved to Toledo, Ohio.

Beginning in 1991, he served as director of music at Park Congregational Church in Toledo, Ohio, for five years. In 1997 he accepted a similar position at First United Methodist Church in nearby Perrysburg. In the 1998-1999 school year, he also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Toledo, where he taught classes in music appreciation.

During his career, Tetz conducted numerous festivals in the U.S. and made countless appearances with his groups on national radio and television and in numerous prestigious venues. Throughout his life he continued to hone his conducting skills, singing with Eugene Ormandy, and studying with Roger Wagner, Elaine Brown, Robert Shaw, and Madame Alice Duschak of the Peabody Conservatory.

He returned to teaching in 2001 when he accepted a half-time position at Mount Vernon Academy in Ohio. Although it was supposedly a one-year position, taken to help the principal, Dale Twomley, a friend who had had a last-minute staff vacancy, he taught there for six years, until 2007, four years past his official "retirement age." It was an experience he enjoyed and one that excited the students, as observed in the school paper, The Spirit, at the beginning of one of those years:

The return of our beloved Mr. Tetz has many students up and ready for whatever awaits them in the coming year. . . . He still has the enthusiasm we have always known, and he knows how to spread that enthusiasm to those he teaches.

Tetz was living in Toledo, Ohio, when he died on December 7, 2017, at age 79.


Sources: Information provided by Leland Tetz, September 2011, January 2012. The Columbia Union Visitor, 19 March 1970, 15; 25 September 1975, 16; 3 July 1975 (Randy Hall, "Pro Musica Tours Europe"), 16; 1 July 1985, 3; 15 July 1986, 10; 1 April 1987, 11; 15 September 1987, 10; 1 November 1987, 10; 15 October 1988, 14; and Unknown date (2003 Mount Vernon Adventist Alumni Awards). The Review and Herald, 14 June 1970, [35] 19; Mount Vernon Academy newspaper, The Spirit, Volume 85, No. 1, 11 (student quotes); 87, No1, 9. Canadian Union Messenger, January 1994 (Rachel Weis Tetz obituary).