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String Players in the Department of Music at Otterbein

Department of Music Faculty 

Jim Bates

James Bates

Associate Professor
Director of Orchestral Activities

Battelle Fine Arts Center 107
p/ 614.823.1553
e/ jbates@otterbein.edu

Dr. Jim Bates is Director of Orchestral Activities at Otterbein University and serves as an assistant conductor for the Westerville Symphony (OH) and Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras. Teaching duties at Otterbein include String Methods and Pedagogy, Bass, and Introduction to Music. Dr. Bates coordinates the music history area of the department and teaches Music History and Literature –Romantic and Modern Eras.
Photo of Professor Amy Chivington, Ph. D, Director of Music Education for Otterbein University

Amy Chivington

Director of Music Education

Battelle Fine Arts Center 245
p/ 614.823.1110
e/ achivington@otterbein.edu

As Director of Music Education, Dr. Chivington teaches courses such as Music Education Practicum and Vocal and Choral Methods. She founded Kinderchor, a community children's choir formerly in residence for 20 years at Otterbein. Dr. Chivington serves as Music Director at Indian Run United Methodist Church. She has studied choral literature and conducting with Robert Shaw, and Sir David Willcocks among others. She is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, the Ohio Music Education Association, the American Choral Directors Association, and the University Music Society.  Dr. Chivington also serves as a national supervisor for Pearson scoring of edTPA portfolios.
Dennis Davenport

Dennis Davenport

Department Chair

Battelle Fine Arts Center 109
p/ 614.823.3138
e/ ddavenport@otterbein.edu

Dr. Dennis Davenport currently teaches Theory, Musical Theatre History and directs the Otterbein Singers. He served as Music Director for the BFA Musical Theatre program from 2001-2011. Davenport's opera, First Encounters: Berthe Morisot Meets Edouard Manet (An Opera? A Musical?) with a libretto by his spouse, Sarah Davenport, was produced by Otterbein Opera Theatre in 2016. Davenport serves as Otterbein liaison to the Board of the Westerville Symphony, and also serves as organist/pianist at Church of the Master United Methodist in Westerville.
Photo of Karen Eckenroth, DMA, Director of Vocal Activities in the Otterbein University Music Department

Karen Eckenroth

Associate Professor
Director of Vocal Activities

Battelle Fine Arts Center 110
p/ 614.823.1458
e/ keckenroth@otterbein.edu

Dr. Karen Eckenroth coordinates the voice area, directs the Opera Theatre program, teaches studio voice, and ear training. Dr. Eckenroth received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Pennsylvania State University, and her Doctorate from the University of Arizona in Tucson where she studied voice with Elizabeth Mosher and Paula Fan. 
Lori Kay Harvey

Lori Kay Harvey

Musical Director of BFA Musical Theatre and production program

Battelle Fine Arts Center 116
p/ 614.823.3177
e/ lharvey@otterbein.edu

Lori Kay Harvey, Instructor of Musical Theatre, serves as the musical director and conductor for the production program and the BFA musical theatre program at Otterbein University.  Recent projects include RENT, Into the Woods, Sweet Charity, Dames At Sea, The Full Monty, Les Misérables, How to Succeed…Trying and Spring Awakening. She teaches the Freshmen Musical Theatre Ensemble, Junior Musical Theatre Studio, and the Senior Showcase.  She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and has performed extensively as an actor/singer/dancer. 
Jennifer Merkowitz

Jennifer Merkowitz

Associate Professor
Head of Composition and Music Theory

Battelle Fine Arts Center 109
p/ 614.823.1807
e/ jmerkowitz@otterbein.edu

Jennifer Bernard Merkowitz is Associate Professor of Music at Otterbein, where she is Head of Theory and Composition. She also teaches aural skills and electronic music. She received her MM and DMA in Composition from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and she holds a BA in Music and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Richmond. Dr. Merkowitz is a composer, pianist, and violist whose diverse inspirations have included liturgical chant, basketball games, the growth patterns of plants, and frog calls.
Nicholas Ross

Nicholas Ross

Director of Keyboard Studies, Associate Chair of the Music Department

Battelle Fine Arts Center 108
p/ 614.823.1020
e/ nross@otterbein.edu

Nick Ross performs as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. He has performed recitals and concertos at such venues as St. Martin’s-in-the-Field and St. John’s Smith Square, London, the Field Room in Dublin, and the Engelse Kerk in Amsterdam. Nick is active as a recording artist, and he has released four solo piano recordings to date, as well as two collaborative discs of Arthur Honegger’s music.
Gayle Walker

Gayle Walker

Director of Choral Activities

Battelle Fine Arts Center 248
p/ 614.823.1318
e/ gwalker@otterbein.edu

Dr. Gayle Walker is in her sixteenth year as Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music at Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, where she is responsible for the organization of five vocal ensembles, conducts Concert Choir and Opus One a cappella/jazz ensemble, and teaches private voice as well as classes in conducting, aural skills, and music history. Dr. Walker is currently the President of the Central Division of the American Choral Directors Association, and past president of the Ohio Choral Directors Association, and from which she received the Distinguished Service Award in 2014.
Michael Yonchak

Michael Yonchak

Associate Professor
Music Education

Battelle Fine Arts Center 117
p/ 614.823.1808
e/ myonchak@otterbein.edu

Dr. Michael Yonchak currently serves as Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music Education at Otterbein University. A native of Ohio, Dr. Yonchak completed his Bachelor of Music in Education and Master of Music at Youngstown State University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting from the University of Kentucky. His current research interests surround American composer Frank Zappa, leading to numerous journal articles and presentations and, by extension, topics related to popular music and culture. Dr. Yonchak is also an active percussionist on the Columbus music scene, with performances ranging from indie-rock to jazz to traditional flamenco and Irish percussion. 

Dr. Yonchak is an endorsee for Vic Firth, Inc., and Finnegan Hill Irish Percussion (www.finneganhill.com).

Department of Music Part-time Faculty & Staff by Area

Many members of the Department of Music Faculty perform frequently in the region and are members of prestigious performing organizations such as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Opera Columbus.  A plus sign (+) designates Columbus Symphony Orchestra members. An asterisk (*) designates Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra members. A caret (^) designates Columbus Jazz Orchestra members.


Voice, Choir & Opera

  • HELEN ALLEN; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: voice.
  • ROBERT BEHRENS; M.F.A., Ohio University. Teaching area: acting, opera. 
  • MARLA BUTKE; Ph.D., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: choir
  • ROBERT BUX; M.M., Northwestern University. Teaching area: voice.
  • MARK HUTSKO; M.M.E., The University of Akron.  Teaching area: choir.
  • SARA PARDO FISHBURN; M.M., University of North Carolina.  Teaching area: voice.  
  • LAURA PORTUNE; D.M.A., The Ohio State University.  Teaching area: voice.
  • KEYONA WILLIS; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: voice.


  • JENNIFER BELL; M.M., New England Conservatory of Music. Teaching area: organ, early music; Staff Accompanist.
  • RICHARD LOPEZ; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching areas: piano, jazz.
  • SUZANNE NEWCOMB; D.M.A., The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Teaching area: piano, theory, chamber music; Staff Accompanist.


  • ^CHRISTIAN BERG; M.A., Montclair State College. Teaching areas: jazz studies, electric bass.
  • +DAVID EDGE; M.M., Northwestern University.  Teaching area: violin.
  • ERIN GILLILAND; D.M.A. in progress, Florida State University. Teaching area: violin.
  • CHAD GREENWALD; B.M.E., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: guitar. 
  • DOUGLAS LOCKE; M.M., Southern Illinois University. Teaching area: violin and Suzuki Pedagogy Internship Program. 
  • SUSAN LOCKE; M.M., Southern Illinois University. Teaching area: violin.
  • +JUDE MOLLENHAUER; M.A., University of Pennsylvania. Teaching area: harp. 
  • DOUG NEEL; M.M., Bowling Green State University. Teaching area: guitar.
  • +STEVEN WEDELL; M.M., Boston University. Teaching areas: viola. 
  • JILL WRIGHT CRIST; M.M., The Ohio State University.  Teaching area: cello.

Brass, Woodwinds & Percussion

  • KIMBERLEE GOODMAN; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching areas: flute, theory, aural skills, Integrative Studies.
  • KERRY HABERKERN; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: bassoon.
  • DAN KING; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: trumpet, brass methods.
  • KIMBERLY McCANN; M.M, Northwestern University. Teaching area: horn.
  • JAY MIGLIA; D.M.A. in progress, University of Illinois. Coordinator, Jazz Studies. Teaching areas: saxophone, jazz. 
  • HILD PEERSEN; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: clarinet.
  • DAVID STEFANO; Ph.D, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Teaching area: woodwind methods.
  • *+MELISSA STEVENS; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: oboe.
  • JORDI VILANOVA; M.M., Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Teaching area: marching band.
  • ANTHONY WEIKEL; D.M.A., The Ohio State University. Teaching area: low brass.


  • LYLE BARKHYMER; D.M., Indiana University. Teaching area: world music.
  • DANA DIRKSEN; B.M., Otterbein University. Administrative Assistant.
  • JESSE HEETLAND; D.M.A., University of Oklahoma-Norman.  Teaching area: music technology.
  • LINDA KERNOHAN; M.A., New York University. Teaching area: Class Piano, Aural Skills, Red Noise.
  • ANN RIESBECK DiCLEMENTE; Ph.D., University of Marlyand-College Park. Teaching area: Integrative Studies.
  • LAUREN SPAVELKO; M.M., University of Louisville. Teaching area: Class Piano.
  • ERIC VAN WAGNER; B.M.E., Otterbein University. Teaching area: audio production.
  • +PETER STAFFORD WILSON; B.M., University of Cincinnati. Music Director, Westerville Symphony at Otterbein University; Associate Conductor, Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
  • CLAIRE BROCK; B.A., Capital University. Program and Operations Manager.