Lyn Ritz is a professor of music at Walla Walla University, where she teaches violin, viola, chamber music, aural skills, and music theory. At WWU since 2003, she has also served as concertmaster of the Walla Walla Symphony since 2005.
Lyn was born in Rochester, New York, the oldest of three daughters. Her mother was an amateur musician who supported Lyn’s interest in music by starting her with piano lessons at age ten and violin study at age twelve. She later talked about how her early interest in violin and about her training until she graduated from high school:
My cousin, who was my age, started violin, and I thought it was very cool. Finally after he had been studying a couple of years, and my parents had resisted my wishes to study the instrument, thinking my interest was simply that of copying him and not a serious wish to learn the instrument, they relented.
Within a year or so after starting lessons I was enrolled in the Eastman School of Music Preparatory Department, where I took lessons from Abram Boone, a teacher at Eastman and assistant concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic, who would prove to be an excellent teacher and mentor through my high school years. The training in the preparatory department included study in theory and piano and the giving of recitals. I graduated from the program at the time I graduated from high school in Rochester.
Ritz completed a B.Mus. at the State University of New York, Potsdam, in 1974, studying with Paul Gershman, and then completed an M.Mus.Ed. at Pennsylvania State University in 1976, where she also held a graduate assistantship, studying with Joanne Feldman.
She then taught public school music in New York State for eight years before moving to Lexington, Kentucky, to pursue a D.M.A. in violin performance at the University of Kentucky. During her doctoral study, she was a graduate assistant, won the 1989 Concerto Competition, and played in the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra on the campus and in the Niles Quartet for five years.
Following completion of the D.M.A.in December 1991 at UK, where she studied with Daniel Mason, Ritz taught at the University of Texas Pan-America in Edinburg, Texas, for a year. During that time she was the concertmaster in the community’s Valley Symphony Orchestra and soloed, performing The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughn Williams in 1992.
Ritz then took a position at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, where she taught violin and viola, chamber music, classes in music theory and string methods, directed the University String Chamber ensemble, and was a member of the Bresquin Trio, a faculty ensemble. She soloed with Humboldt State University Orchestra, playing Bruch’s Kol Nidrei in 1994, and with the university’s Chamber Group, playing the Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor in 1995. During 1994-1995 school year at HSU she became acquainted with the Seventh-day Adventist Church through 3ABN and was baptized.
In 1995 Ritz accepted a position at the University of Dayton in Ohio, where she taught violin and viola, chamber music and classes in string pedagogy, aural skills, arranging, and music appreciation. During her eight years at UD, she was active as a chamber music participant, performing frequently as a member of the Marian String Quartet, Marian Duo (violin and viola), and Tritonus, a faculty trio.
Ritz was also a frequent soloist in recitals on campus, at the Kettering College Church and in other churches and schools in the area. In 2003, she did a joint recital with Michelle Williams at Atlantic Union College, and, in that same year provided a vesper service at Newbold College while in England attending a Kato Havas workshop.
She was featured as a soloist with the university’s concert band and with a small wind ensemble when it played Linn’s Concertino for Violin and Eight Winds in 1996. She also was the soloist in a 1997 playing of “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by the UD string orchestra and in a 1998 performance of Chausson’s Poeme with the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra.
She plays as a soloist and in recitals at WWU and in her first years was a featured soloist in the school’s annual Christmas Concert, ending it by leading the congregation in its singing of Silent Night with solo violin accompaniment. She and WWU colleagues Leonard Richter and Karin Thompson have performed together as the WWU Faculty Piano Trio.
Ritz has been a participant in and attendee at several workshops, including the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School, Blue Hill, Maine in 1989; the Nova Scotia Music Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1992; The Kato Havas Workshop at Pacific Union College in 1998; College Music Society Workshop in 2001; and a Twelve-Lesson Course with Kato Havas, in London, England, in 2003. She has served as a judge in festivals and at solo and ensemble competitions.
She was Coordinator of the University of Dayton Summer Studies Program in Vienna in 1998 and coordinated the summer Junior High String Camp at UD in 1999. From 2000 to 2002 she was Director of the University of Dayton STRING PROJECT, underwritten by a two-year grant from the American String Teachers Association.
Ritz has also composed and arranged music, written articles, and authored A Compendium of Left Hand Fingerings for Violin and Viola in 1994. In the 1990s she composed Duo for Violin and Viola, two sacred songs for voice and piano, and two choral numbers. Since that time she has arranged a number of hymns for violin and piano. Two of her hymn arrangements for the WWU String Quartet were played at the opening of the General Conference Session in Atlanta in 2010.
She and pianist Phil Amalong produced a CD entitled Reflections – Hymns for Violin and Piano in 2001. She was a participant in the WWU String Quartet along with three students in the summer of 2007 on a tour of Finland.
More recently, she has become heavily involved in music-related computer technology and its applications in composing and teaching. She teaches a class that guides music students as they use it in their studies now and helps them see it as an effective tool in their future careers.
Sources: Interview, 18 September 2013; Resume (2003); WWU music department newsletter, Opus, 2010; personal knowledge.