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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 Department Chair and 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.

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Dr. Harsha Abeyaratne

pic of harsha abeyaratne

Known as an artist who performs with "verve, passion, and creative flair" (Sunday Island, Colombo, Sri Lanka) and whose playing is "mature and expressive" (The Daily Jeffersonian, Cambridge, Ohio), pianist Harsha Abeyaratne maintains an active career as a performer and pedagogue.  In December of 2012, he performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, New York.  His eighty five minute program of this concert featured, among others, Muczynski's Third Piano Sonata and Liszt's Vallee d'Obermann.  His recitals also include a performance as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, in his native country.  He anticipates a visit, in the Spring of 2014, to China where he will play at Lanzhou Unversity, one of China's premier universities, and conduct teaching-workshops for both college and high school pianists.

Abeyaratne has had the privilege of performing with world renowned artists Rebecca Rischin, Randy Sabien, George Wolfe, and others.  His collaborations with Ms. Rischin in the Fall of 2012 took him to several campuses in Ohio and Pennsylvania that included Penn State University in University Park and Temple University in Philadelphia.  As a collaborative pianist, he has played works by several contemporary composers such as Hindemith, Creston, Berio, Tower, Fink, Ewazen, Milhaud, and Desenclos.  In the recent past, he has been invited to perform at Ohio University, Ohio State University, Marshall University, and Jacksonville University.  In addition, he has played as a soloist with the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra and Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds and performed regularly as a member of the Alato Trio as well.  In the Spring of 2014, he is scheduled to present a solo recital featuring works by Ravel, Mozart, Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev at Cedarville University, Muskingum University, and the Secrest Auditorium situated in the historic downtown area of Zanesville, Ohio.

Aberatne's honors and grants include the 2010 Ball State University School of Music Alumni Achievement Citation award and two faculty Development grants from Muskingum University that have made his respective concerts in New York and China possible.  Widely sought out as an adjudicator, he has been asked to judge piano competitions in Ohio, such as the OMTA/Graves competition, Tuscarawas Music Festival, and OMTA/Buckeye Auditions.  Abeyaratne is currently the Coordinator of Keyboard Studies and an Associate Professor of Music at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio where he teaches keyboard studies and music theory.  He has previously taught in the keyboard departments of Manchester College and Marshall University.  He holds music degrees from Lewis and Clark College (BA and BSc) and Ball State University (MM and DAMus), where he studied respectively with Ann Schaffert Miller and Robert Palmer, both highly respected pedagogues in the United States.  Additional extensive studies include work with the acclaimed Peter Takacs, Professor of Piano at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.  For more information on Dr. Abeyaratne, visit

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picture of zeb highbenDr. Zebulon M. Highben, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Muskingum University, conducts the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Choral Society, and Men's Chorus, and teaches conducting, choral methods, and applied voice.  He also serves on the faculty of the annual Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival, where he has been the Paul Bouman Chapel Choir Director since 2005.

Highben previously taught at the University of Wisconsin River Falls, Luther Seminary, and was a teaching assistant at Michigan State University in both the choral and music history areas.  He has over fifteen years of experience as a church musician, serving Lutheran and Presbyterian congregations in Ohio, Minnesota, and Michigan.  During his tenure at Westwood Lutheran Church in suburban Minneapolis, the seventy-voice A Cappella Choir released two recordings and performed for the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota (2006) and the St. Olaf College Choral Festival (2008).

His numerous compositions have been sung by collegiate, school, church, and community ensembles, and are published by Augsburg Fortress, Boosey & Hawkes, GIA Publications, and MorningStar Music.  Composition awards include a Faith Partners grant from the American Composers Forum (2011-2012) and the Raabe Prize for Excellence in Sacred Composition (2011).  Highben's scholarly work is published in the Bulletin for the Council on Research in Music Education, the Choral Journal, and Cross Accent.  He compiled and edited the forthcoming Augsburg Motet Book (2013), 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 (2007), a Festschrift in honor of Ronald A. Nelson.

A native of Ohio, Highben studied music education at Ohio State University, graduating magna cum laude and with distinction.  He earned the M.S.M. in choral conducting from Luther Seminary with St. Olaf College, and the D.M.A. in choral conducting from Michigan State University.  Dr. Highben is past president of Region III of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (2008-2010); other professional affiliations include the American Choral Directors Association, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, the Hymn Society, the National Association for Music Education, the Ohio Music Education Association, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and Phi Kappa Phi.

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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

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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

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picture of david turrillDr. David A. Turrill is Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music at Muskingum University, where he conducts the Muskingum University Wind Ensemble, Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds, the "Muskie" Marching Band, 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.  During the summer, he serves on the faculty of the New England Music Camp in Sidney, Maine. 

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.

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