Faculty & Staff in Music

Music Office Information
Department Chair: Nicholas Ross
Contact: Natalie Hu, Coordinator, Music Operations & Programs​
Phone: 614-823-1508
Email: music@otterbein.edu

Jim Bates

Jim Bates

Professor


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.

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Dennis Davenport

Dennis Davenport

Professor


Dennis Davenport is Professor of Music at Otterbein. Current teaching includes Musical Theatre History, directing the Otterbein Singers and teaching in the First Year Experience program. With colleague Jim Bates, Dennis leads the Vienna Travel Course in May Term. His recent music direction for Theatre & Dance production program includes The Pajama Game in Fall 2021, and The All Night Strut, The Fantasticks and Little Shop of Horrors for Otterbein Summer Theatre. For Otterbein Opera Theatre, Dennis has music directed…

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Karen Eckenroth

Karen Eckenroth

Associate Professor


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. Dr. Eckenroth has performed as soprano soloist for such works as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Verdi's Requiem, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, and Rossini's Stabat Mater. Her opera roles…

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Lori Kay Harvey

Lori Kay Harvey

Associate Professor


Lori Kay Harvey is in her 15th year as a member of the musical theatre faculty at Otterbein. She has music directed over 35 shows in central Ohio and throughout the US and has performed extensively as an actor/ singer/ dancer on both national and international tours and in numerous regional theatres. Recent Otterbein credits include “Into A Lamplit Room,” “The Theory of Relativity,” “Chicago,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Big Fish,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and “Adding Machine.” Tour credits: “Joseph and…

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Jennifer Merkowitz

Jennifer Merkowitz

Professor


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.

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Nick Ross

Nicholas Ross

Professor & Department Chair


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.

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Gayle Walker

Gayle Walker

Professor and Director of Choral Activities


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.

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Michael Yonchak

Michael Yonchak

Associate Professor


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).

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Natalie Hu

Coordinator, Music Operations & Programs


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Patricia Hultz

Administrative Assistant


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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.

If you would like to contact a part-time faculty member please e-mail music@otterbein.edu.

Brass, Woodwinds & Percussion

Lindsey Goodman, M.M.
Northwestern University
Teaching area: Flute

Kerry Haberkern, D.M.A.
The Ohio State University
Teaching area: Bassoon

Tomasz Jarzecki, M.M.
Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Teaching area: Percussion, Percussion Methods

Dan King, D.M.A.
The Ohio State University
Teaching area: Trumpet, Brass Methods

Andrew Kovaleski, M.M.
Youngstown State University
Teaching areas: Saxophone

Hild Peersen, D.M.A.
The Ohio State University
Teaching area: Clarinet

Axl Pons, M.M.
Cleveland Institute of Music
Teaching area: Oboe

David Stefano, Ph.D.
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Teaching area: Woodwind Methods, Early Music

Jordi Vilanova, M.M.
Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Teaching area: Marching Band

Scott Warburton, M.M.
University of Colorado
Teaching area: Horn

Anthony Weikel, D.M.A.
The Ohio State University
Teaching area: Low Brass

Greg Wolfram, B.M.
Bowling Green State University
Teaching area: Jazz Combo, Guitar

Keyboard

Jennifer Bell, M.M.
New England Conservatory of Music
Teaching area: Organ, Early Music

Michael Lester, M.M.
Baylor University
Teaching areas: Piano

Suzanne Newcomb, D.M.A.
The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University
Teaching area: Piano, Theory, Chamber Music

Strings

Alexander Locke, M.M.
Carnegie Mellon University
Teaching area: Viola

Susan Locke, M.M.
Southern Illinois University
Teaching area: Violin, Viola

Juan Carlos Ortega, D.M.A.
The Ohio State University
Teaching areas: Violin

Jill Wright Crist, M.M.
The Ohio State University,
Teaching area: Cello

Voice, Choir, & Opera

Jeremy Alfera, B.M.E.
Ohio State University
Teaching area: Choir, Voice

Teagan Amey, M.M.
Kent State University
Teaching area: Voice

Rachel Azbell, M.M.
University of North Texas
Teaching area: Voice, Commercial Music

Tracy Conway, M.M.
Capital University
Teaching area: Education

Kate Merryman, M.A.
Ohio State University
Teaching area: Voice

Austin Piper, M.M.
Kent State University
Teaching area: Voice

Kristen Rusen, M.M.
Bowling Green State University
Teaching area: Voice

Other

Jesse Heetland, D.M.A.
University of Oklahoma-Norman
Teaching area: Class Piano, Theory

Miranda Martin-Hecker, M.M.
Kansas State University
Teaching area: Aural Skills

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

  • Jeremy Alfera
  • Jennifer Bell
  • Susan Dowdy
  • Wendy Foster
  • Tony Hagood
  • Richard Jeric
  • Michael Lester
  • Suzanne Newcomb
  • Bruce Piper
  • Caroline Salido-Barta
  • Nikki Sipe