Dr. Walter W. (Billy) Schurr brings many years of experience primarily in Presbyterian churches. Born in Annapolis, Maryland, Billy and his sister were raised as musicians as a result of their father’s love for music.
First known as a singer in the Baltimore–Annapolis area, Billy performed publicly in early childhood, singing on stage and performing on his own weekly radio show. At age 11, he accepted his first job as a church organist and also began studying piano and voice at The Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. At 13, he sang in Verdi’s Tosca with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the starring role in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitor with The Peabody Conservatory’s “Little Orchestra.” By 15, he was teaching piano and performing as a concert pianist. He then began studying composition and orchestration, and completed his first major work, a Christmas Cantata for choir, orchestra, and organ.
Since that time, Billy has composed and arranged a vast amount of literature for choir and instrumental ensembles, keyboard, and handbells. A recognized innovator of music and worship alternatives, he leads choral and worship workshops nationwide. Billy earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance with a minor in organ performance from The Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and was awarded his PhD in musicology by The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He has served on the faculty at both institutions.
Billy came to Immanuel from San Diego, where he served as Director of Music Ministries at the 2400-member Rancho
Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church. Prior to that, he was the Director of Music and Organist at Dumfries United Methodist Church, in Dumfries, Virginia, and Minister of Music/Artist in Residence at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church
in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he directed the Crescent Concert Series. His background includes positions at the U.S. Army Chapel Center at Fort Huachuca; Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, Maryland; and Harundale Presbyterian Church in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Billy’s favorite things include blackberries (he can spot a blackberry vine from a thousand feet at 50 miles an hour), Maryland soft crabs, ice cream, pancakes on a snowy day (but figure the odds in Tucson), writing and arranging music, reading science fiction, and autumn leaves in New England. And the ocean. Oh, the ocean!
Dr. Walter W. (Billy) Schurr
Director of Music