May 12, 2022

Alumni spanning nearly 50 years and 2,000 miles returned to campus to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Cyril “Cy” Stretansky, emeritus director of choral activities, with a performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem.

Stretansky came to Susquehanna in 1972 and retired as professor of music and director of choral activities in 2008.

David Steinau, Susquehanna’s chair and associate professor of music, described Stretansky as a “force in choral music throughout Pennsylvania and the Northeast.

“He saw the potential in students that maybe they didn’t see in themselves, and also he always wanted them singing with their real voice,” Steinau said. “He wasn’t after a choral sound where everybody sounded like the person next to them and I think that’s what made the sound of his choirs so special.”

Emmett Kirwan ’96 travelled from Columbia, South Carolina, to participate in Saturday’s event, which included a pre-concert dinner for returning alumni and their families. Kirwan, who entered college as a music major, said Stretansky helped him to improve as a singer while guiding him toward his eventual major in communications.

“I felt compelled to attend as I knew many alumni I had not seen at homecoming would be there. There hasn’t really been an opportunity for the SU community to come together and remember or pay tribute to those lost in the past two years,” Kirwan said. “Singing Fauré’s Requiem allowed me, and probably others, a time to remember all those who have departed from us these past two years. Music helps us heal.”

Upon learning of Stretanksy’s death, Wayne Dietterick ’74, a composer and arranger from Gillette, New Jersey, channeled his grief into music.

“I needed to compose as I needed to do something that became part of my healing for this loss,” he said. Dietterick wrote the piece We’ve No Abiding City Here.

“Stretansky always said, usually with a slight grin, ‘Suffer for your art,’ and at times we did suffer under his direction, but he opened doors for me that continue to open other doors for me throughout my entire life — and still, they open,” Dietterick told WVIA’s Erika Funke for artSCENE. “From my formative professional years, my intense love for and devotion to the choral arts and my life as a composer and arranger, I owe primarily to him.”

A native of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, Stretansky graduated from Mansfield University in 1957, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Music Education and was later named a member of the music department’s honor roll of distinguished graduates. He went on to earn his Master of Music Education from Temple University. He also studied at the Meadowbrook School of Oakland University and at Cambridge University in England. In 1999, he studied the interpretation of the Gregorian chant at the Benedictine Monastery of the St. Pierre in Solesmes, France. Stretansky died on June 13, 2021, at the age of 86.

“It was important for us to honor Cy’s memory in a manner that was consistent with everything that he stood for, so of course it had to involve singing, and it had to bring the Susquehanna community together and it had to be excellent, which I think it was,” Steinau said. “It was amazing to see so many alumni here to pay tribute to Cy’s memory and interact with our current students. It’s meaningful for the generations to connect like this. For our current students, it’s important for them to see something of the tradition that they have become a part of.”

The concert was conducted by Stretansky Distinguished Professor Amy Voorhees.