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department of music The content below is information specific to this academic department's fields of interest.

Faculty Bios


Picture of Joyce AlesandriniDr. Joyce Alesandrini, bassoonist and pianist, is a Professor of Music, and currently Coordinator of Music Theory at Muskingum University, where she also teaches bassoon, oboe, and piano.  Additionally, Dr. Alesandrini coordinates Gender Studies.  She is a frequent guest conductor, organist, and pianist at area churches and has performed with the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra, Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds, and the Zanesville Memorial Concert Band.  Dr. Alesandrini received Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Wyoming, a Master of Music in Bassoon Performance from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in Arts Education from The Ohio State University.  She was formerly on the faculty at the University of Wyoming and Western Wyoming College where she founded and conducted the Western Wyoming Community Orchestra.  For her efforts in bringing the arts to that community, she was awarded the Young Career Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women chapter.  Additionally, she was visiting adjunct professor at Oklahoma State University.  She is a member of Music Educators National Conference, Delta Omicron, Phi Kappa Phi, American Association of University Professors, and American Association of University Women.  Dr. Alesandrini was recently elected the founding president of Muskingum Universit's chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

E-mail Dr. Alesandrini: joycea@muskingum.edu


pic of harsha abeyaratnePianist Harsha Abeyaratne has performed throughout the United States and in Asia.  His numerous performances include solo concerts at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York; Lionel Wendt Theater in Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Gansu Grand Theater in Lanzhou, China.  He has also appeared as a soloist with, among others, the National Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds, and Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra.  He has collaborated with world renown artists Rebecca Rischin, Randy Sabein, and George Wolfe as well.  In addition, his concertizing has taken him to venues in several cities in the United States, namely Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Charleston, WV; Manhattan, NY (on two occasions); Columbus, OH; and Portland, OR.  He has also performed at universities, and given master classes at several of these institutions, such as Ohio University, Ohio State University, Jacksonville University, University of Mount Union, Marshall University, Cedarville University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern Oregon.  He has been invited again to give solo recitals in the Spring of 2015 at Jacksonville University in Florida and in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Abeyaratne, a native of Sri Lanka, joined the music faculty of Muskingum University in 2003 and became tenured in 2009. A critic who evaluated his concert in 2008 at Muskingum wrote, “beginning with the first notes of his recital at Brown Chapel, Muskingum University professor Harsha Abeyaratne coaxed a luxurious tone out of the Steinway all afternoon. The program’s opening work, Isaac Albeniz’s ‘Evocación,’ set the pace for the recital in an impressive display of tonal color" (The Jeffersonian, Cambridge, Ohio). Also an equally dedicated collaborative pianist, he has played works in this genre by contemporary composers that include Hindemith, Creston, Fink, Berio, Tower, Peaslee, Muczynksi, Gweneth Walker, Ewazen, Desenclos, and Glazunov. He has performed on many occasions as a chamber musician too performing piano trios by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert,  and others. 

At Muskingum, Dr. Abeyaratne teaches piano students and music theory.  He is also in demand as an adjudicator and would be one of three piano faculty members selected to judge for the second time the highly respected OhioMTA/Graves Piano and Organ Competition in Columbus, OH in March of 2015. Additionally, he is the recipient of faculty development grants from Muskingum University and the 2010 Ball State University School of Music Alumni Achievement Citation Award.  As a humanitarian, he has helped to raise money for his country, Sri Lanka, on a number of occasions.  In November of 2014, he was one of three Sri Lankan artists to perform at a large-scale and successful fundraising event, "Project Joy", in New Jersey to raise money geared towards beginning an epilepsy unit at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, the largest children's hospital in the world, in Sri Lanka. 

He received his doctoral degree in music from Ball State University under the tutelage of pianist and teacher Robert Palmer.  He has also worked with Peter Takacs at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.  His other teachers include Ann Schaffert Miller (Professor Emeritus, Lewis and Clark College) and the late Mary Billimoria (Sri Lanka).  Also a jazz enthusiast and passionate tennis player, he resides in New Concord, OH.

For further information, please see his website: www.abeyaratnepianist.com

E-mail Dr. Abeyaratne: harshaa@muskingum.edu


picture of zeb highbenDr. Zebulon M. Highben is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Muskingum University, where he conducts the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and Choral Society, and teaches conducting, choral methods, choral literature, and applied voice and composition.

Highben previously taught at the University of Wisconsin River Falls, Luther Seminary, and Michigan State University, where he was a graduate teaching assistant in both the choral and musicology departments. He has over fifteen years of experience as a full- and part-time church musician, serving Lutheran and Presbyterian congregations in Ohio, Minnesota, and Michigan. From 2005-2014, he was the Paul Bouman Endowed Chapel Choir Director at the annual Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival. Choirs under his direction have been featured at numerous conferences and festivals, including ACDA of Minnesota, the St. Olaf College Choral Festival, and the Ohio Choral Directors Association.

More than forty of Dr. Highben’s compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress, Boosey & Hawkes, Colla Voce, GIA, and MorningStar Music, and by Gehrmans Musikförlag in Sweden. He has received composition awards and honors from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, the American Prize, and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. His scholarly research is published in the Choral Journal, the Bulletin for the Council on Research in Music Education, and Cross Accent. He also edited the Augsburg Motet Book, an anthology of motets spanning the Renaissance to the present day, and co-edited the book With a Voice of Singing: Essays on Children, Choirs, and Music in the Church, a Festschrift in honor of Ronald A. Nelson.

A native of Ohio, Dr. Highben studied music education at Ohio State University, graduating magna cum laude and with departmental distinction. He earned the Master of Sacred Music from Luther Seminary with St. Olaf College, and the Doctor of Musical Arts from Michigan State University, where he was a recipient of both the Charles K. Smith Fellowship in Choral Conducting and the Robert A. Harris Award for Excellence in Choral Performance. He serves on the boards of the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Institute of Liturgical Studies; other professional affiliations include the American Choral Directors Association, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, NAfME/OMEA, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and Phi Kappa Phi.

For more information about Dr. Highben, please visit www.zebulonhighben.com.

E-mail Dr. Highben: zhighben@muskingum.edu


pic of olga perezCuban-American, mezzo-soprano, Olga Perez has been praised by Opera News for her "firm, pleasant voice and lively poise."  She is an alumnus of the Pullin Opera Studio Program at Arizona Opera, where she sang under the batons of such conductors as Richard Buckley, Cal Stewart Kellogg, and Joel Revzen.  While there she sang in over twenty productions, including Third Lady/Die Zauberflote, Pitti-Sing/The Mikado, Mercedes/Carmen, Annina/La Traviata, Tisbe/La Cenerentola, and Ida/Die Fledermaus while covering Stephanie Blythe as Prince Orlovsky.  Other performances with opera companies across the country include Zita/Gianni Schicchi and Zita/Buoso's Ghost in the east coast premiere with Opera New Jersey, Marcellina/Le nozze di Figaro with Operafestival di Roma, Zerlina/Don Giovanni with Opera in the Heights, and her debut as the title role in Carmen with Amarillo Opera.  Also known as a recitalist, Ms. Perez has enjoyed being a soloist for such companies as Pittsburgh Song Collaborative, Pittsburgh Opera, Music in a Great Space Series, and Idyllwild Arts Festival.

Ms. Perez began her teaching career as the elementary music teacher for Whispering Wind Elementary in Phoenix, AZ where she taught general music and conducted the 4-6 grade choir as well as directed a musical each year.  She went on to teach private voice for 10 years in the Phoenix area.  Upon moving to the Pittsburgh area, Ms. Perez taught voice for 2 years at Point Park University.

Ms. Perez holds a Masters degree in Opera Theater from Arizona State University and two Bachelor's Degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Northern Arizona University.  She enjoys being the opera director for both Up North Vocal Institute and the Idyllwild Festival of the Arts throughout the summers.  Ms. Perez is currently pursuing the Doctorate in Vocal Performance at The Ohio State University where she was just seen performing the role of Mistress Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff.

For more information about Dr. Perez Flora, visit www.olgaperezflora.com/

E-mail Dr. Perez: operez@muskingum.edu


Picture of Laura Schumann

Dr. Laura E. Schumann is the Music Director and Conductor of the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra (SEOSO) and Associate Professor of Music at Muskingum University.  She is a 2001 recipient of an ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award, and a YMCA/YWCA Women of Achievement Award, a 2004 International Musician of the Year, and is listed in Who's Who of American Women, in America, and in the World.  She received the first 2004 Cambridge (OH) Heritage Award for Leadership in the community and theWilliam Rainey Harper Award for Outstanding Scholarship from Muskingum College in 2005.  She was a semi-finalist in the 2003 Third International Jordania conducting competition in Kharkov, Ukraine.  She has collaborated withinternationally acclaimed artists Angela Cheng, Benny Kim, Joaquin Achucarro, Hakan Rosengren, Gilbert Mata, Sergiu Schwartz, Randy Sabien and the Cavani Quartet among others.  Ms. Schumann has also been Music Director for teh ECODT Nutcracker Ballet, has guest conducted the Newark-Granville (OH) Symphony, Columbus (OH) Symphony (2008) and has worked with Columbus, Spokane, and Bakersfield Symphonies.  Schumann was a featured violin soloist for the Miss Ohio pageant telecast on the Ohio News Network (ONN) in June 2007.  An orchestral arranger and composer, Schumann's Shostakovich in Blue (2006) for strings is published by Alliance Publications, Wisconsin, as will be an arrangement of Devin Went Down to Georgia for violin, vocal, and full orchestra.

Dr. Schumann received her D.M.A. in orchestral conducting from Texas Tech University, her Master's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Previously, Dr. Schumann was director of orchestral activities at Western State College in Colorado and Murray State University in Kentucky,Assistant Conductor at Texas Tech University, and she has held positions at Wake Forest, Salem College, and Winstom Salem University.  As a conductor, Dr. Schumann has held positions and guest conducted in Colorado, including Colorado All-State, Ohio Region Honors Orchestra, as well as in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Minnesota, Tennessee, West Virginia, California, Washington, and she has toured several European countries.  She has conducted several high school and middle school orchestra festivals.  Dr. Schumann has performed as both soloist and chamber musician in various locations across the United States and in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.  Ms. Schumann has performed in the prestigious Colorado Music Festival, North Carolina, West Virginia, Key West, Wheeling, Charlotte, Memphis, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Lubbock Symphonies among others.   She was performed as a soloist with the Winston-Salem and Jackson symphonies, and as a member of the Young Artists String Quartet (CA), and the Wexford Piano Quartet (CO).

Dr. Schumann is noted for her unique and original family/children's programs, incorporating differing musical styles,educationalcomponents, exciting visual and interactive concerts, and an out-of-the-box contemporary yet sophisticated approach to programming and audience development.  For more information about Dr. Schumann, please visit www.maestraschumann.com.

E-mail Dr. Schumann: schumann@muskingum.edu


picture of david turrillDr. David A. Turrill is Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Bands, and serves as Chair of the Department of Music at Muskingum University.  He conducts the Muskingum University Wind Ensemble, and Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds, and teaches applied trumpet, conducting, and courses in music education.  In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Turrill is co-principal trumpet of the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra, and performs with the Muskingum Valley Brass, the faculty brass quintet at Muskingum. 

Originally from Marietta, Ohio, Dr. Turrill earned the Bachelor of Music Education degree as well as Master of Music degrees in Conducting and Trumpet Performance from Ohio University.  He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Trumpet Performance, with a cognate in conducting, from Michigan State University.  While at Michigan State, Dr. Turrill received a Dissertation Completion Fellowship and a "Special College Research Abroad Money" (SCRAM) Award for international research relating to his doctoral document "The Coexistence of Baroque and Classical Traits in the Trumpet Writing of Giovanni Battista Martini."  Dr. Turrill also performed as a soloist in Aaron Copland's Quiet City with the Michigan State Chamber Orchestra on their Austrian tour, and in Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Trumpets with the Michigan State Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Prior to his appointment at Muskingum, Dr. Turrill was on the faculty at Spring Arbor University (MI) and performed regularly with the orchestras of Lansing, Grand Rapids, West Michigan, Battle Creek, Saginaw Bay, Jackson, and Livonia.  He was also a member of Capitol Brass, a professional brass quartet, and freelanced as a trumpet soloist in various churches in the mid-Michigan area.

Dr. Turrill currently maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, and freelance trumpet performer, and also performs with the Heisey Wind Ensemble in Newark, Ohio.  In the fall of 2011, he performed the Haydn trumpet concerto with the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra and Herbert L. Clarke's Carnival of Venice with the Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds.  He was also awarded a 2011 Muskingum University Faculty Development Grant for European travel to pursue additional research on the music of Giovanni Martini.

Dr. Turrill has twelve years of public school teaching experience as an elementary, middle school, and high school band director.  Bands under his direction consistently received superior ratings at local and state adjudicated events.  Dr. Turrill is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda music honor society, the College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education, the Ohio Music Education Association, International Trumpet Guild, the Ohio Private College Instrumental Conductors Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

E-mail Dr. Turrill: dturrill@muskingum.edu