who we are Artist-Faculty and Administrative Staff at the Omaha Conservatory of Music
Our Core Values How OCM has built the strongest music education team in Omaha
he Artist-Faculty at the Omaha Conservatory of Music is a group of highly-trained educators from diverse backgrounds who are eager to teach the next generation of young musicians. In selecting Artist-Faculty and other team members to fulfill our mission of building musical community through education and performance to enrich lives, I look for people who embody our core values: passion, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. When I am about to hire a team member, I ask myself three questions: First, I ask “Are they hungry?” I look for people who have an insatiable desire for excellence in all that they do, whether that is performing a piece by Chopin, making sure a student understands a concept so that they can play their best, or organizing behind-the-scenes administrative work to maximize the team’s efficiency. Second, I ask “Are they humble?” By this, I mean: are they a team player? Do they want to lift others up to reach higher levels? Are they driven by a desire to change people’s lives through music? Finally, I ask “Are they hardworking?” Are they willing to do what it takes to reach the next level? Do they have a history of putting in hours to accomplish substantial outcomes? I am proud to say that I answered “yes” three times (at least!) when selecting our team members listed in the pages that follow. I am grateful to work with each of the brilliant educators and administrators that comprise OCM. Without their talent and hard work, OCM could not have grown to become the incredible cultural asset that it is today.
Ruth Meints Executive Director Omaha Conservatory of Music P.S. We also offer the chance to work with acclaimed artists from all over the world through our Inside the Mind of the Artist series (an enriching program that connects students with industry professionals through master classes, lectures, and performances) and OCM Summer Institute (a week-long summer music camp for all ages and styles).
CanDaCe JORgensen Director of off-site Operations
Graphic Design/ Marketing Specialist
OMaha aRea COMMunity
Receptionist/ Administrative Assistant
Diane Owens Director of Operations
This chart illustrates the Omaha Conservatory of Musicâ€™s organizational structure. Ideas and direction flow from leadership, are executed by staff and artist-faculty members, and impact our various communities though creative, insightful programming.
Registrar/ Database Administrator
Director of Finance
gina DvORaK Executive Assistant/ Media Specialist
Ruth Meints Executive Director
inDiviDual DOnORs anD fOunDatiOns
Kevin MahleR Director of Development
Artist-Faculty Directory Violin/Viola
Ruth Meints Executive Director, Violin, Viola
Ruth Meints has been the Executive Director of the Omaha Conservatory of Music (OCM) since 2005 and authored the Violin Sprouts curriculum launched this year. She currently teaches violin and viola at OCM and conducts various workshops around the country in violin pedagogy and music education, integrating current neuroscience findings into music teaching. While at OCM, she has created many music education programs, such as OCM’s Summer Institute, Winter Festival Orchestra, a full music program at the St. Augustine Indian Mission School, on-campus classes such as PlayIN, SingIN, and Club Theory, and the Inside the Mind of the Artist recital and master class series. Her teaching experience has included head of the string department at Azusa Pacific University and faculty at Biola University in the Los Angeles area. Ruth received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Master of Music degree with an emphasis in Suzuki pedagogy from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville under the mentorship of John Kendall, pioneer in bringing the Suzuki philosophy to the United States.
JoAnna Cochenet Violin, Viola, Conducting JoAnna Cochenet is a conductor, clinician, and violist. At OCM, she instructs lessons in viola and violin, teaches group classes, conducts ensembles, and assists in recruiting and advocacy efforts. As a conductor and performer, she is active in varying capacities throughout the region and nationally. An avid violist, she is frequently called to perform with groups such as the Omaha Symphony, Orchestra Omaha, local string quartets, and touring groups, and works with youth and community groups such as the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras. She performs with and is a founding member of the education-driven chamber group, The Rangbrook (formerly, Kronberg) Ensemble. Cochenet holds a MM in Orchestral Conducting and Viola Performance from the University of WisconsinMilwaukee, where she held a two-year Graduate Conductor Assistantship. She received her BM with Certification in Instrumental Music Education and Performer’s Certificate in Viola from Coe College in Iowa. Conducting teachers and mentors include Markand Thakar, Kenneth Meints, David Barg, Diane Wittry, Margery Deutsch, Dr. William Carson, the late Richard Hoffman, Dr. Marc Falk, Dr. Sharon Hansen, Dr. John Climer, Harold Farberman, Raymond Harvey, Eduardo Navega, and Leon Botstein. Her formal viola studies were with Lewis Rosove, Dr. Michael Kimber, and Beth Hoffman. She has performed in master classes for Wolfgang David, Patricia McCarty, and David Miller, and has attended the master class of Cynthia Phelps.
Jesse Griggs Viola, Violin, Chamber Music Jesse Griggs earned his Master of Music degree in Viola Performance at Bowling Green State University in 2007 having been awarded the Graduate String Quartet Assistantship. For his undergraduate degree, he was awarded a full tuition music talent award to BGSU where he studied with Csaba Erdelyi and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance: Suma cum Laude and with University Honors. He has participated in Master Classes with Donald McInnis, Paul Neubauer, Jeffrey Irvine, Roger Chase, Karen Ritscher, Anner Bylsma, Merry Peckham, Roland Vamos, and David Ying, among many others. He has performed under the batons of conductors including Klauspeter Seibel, David Barg, Emily Freemen Brown, Samuel Addler, Leonard Slatkin, and Robert Spano among others with orchestras including: Lima Symphony Orchestra, BGSU Philharmonia (where he was principal violist), Firelands Symphony, Ottawa University Symphonette (KS), the Texas Music Festival Symphony, and the Omaha Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with musicians such as: Csaba Erdelyi, Rachel Barton Pine, Dr. Alan Smith, Dr Penny Kruse, Dr. Andrew Pelletier, Josh Groban, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller, and members of the Pacifica Quartet. Mr. Griggs has performed concerti with the Ottawa University Symphonette (KS), and Orchestra Omaha. In 2005, Mr. Griggs was invited to tour with the Bowling Green State University Men’s Chorus during their spring tour of New England.
Jessica Hanson Violin
Jessica Hanson began violin at age five through the Suzuki Violin Method studying under Charlie Savot in her hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota. She has attended many Suzuki festivals and camps including the Colorado Suzuki Institute, Washington D.C. Suzuki Institute, Black Hills Suzuki Institute, and Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival. Through the Black Hills Suzuki School, she has participated in master classes with Terry Durbin, Susan Kempter, and Barbara Barber. Hanson has performed in the Rushmore Competition, Young Artist Competition placing second in 2007, and the Dakota Chamber Music Competition placing second in 2006. She performed with the Black Hills Symphony throughout high school and was concertmaster for four years with the Stevens High School Orchestra. Hanson graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor of Arts in Violin Performance, Environmental Studies, and Anthropology. She studied violin with Professor David Neely and chamber music with the Chiara String Quartet. While at UNL, she participated in the Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra. There she held leadership positions as concertmaster for various concerts. She also played with numerous chamber music groups and won the Chamberfest competition in 2009 with her string quartet, the Okapi Quartet. Hanson is now an Artist Faculty member at the Omaha Conservatory of Music and is also teaching locally in Lincoln. She is currently studying under Rebecca Fischer from the Chiara String Quartet and plays in other music groups in her free time. Her interests extend to bluegrass, fiddling, blues, jazz, and other genres of music and she regularly participates in jams and events held by Lincoln Association for Traditional Arts (LAFTA).
Muriel Huckins Violin, Viola Muriel Huckins is a 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. She is currently completing her Master’s degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Prior to her arrival at OCM, Muriel spent three years as a string specialist at five elementary schools in the Omaha Public Schools. She has maintained a private studio since 2003. Muriel began studying violin at the age of eight in her hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa. She credits early teachers for inspiring her to continue studying, first with Keith Plenert and later with Professor David Neely, and to become a teacher herself. While a student at UNL, Muriel performed in master classes for Timothy Baker of the Amadeus Trio and Roger Tapping, former violist of the Takács Quartet. In addition the violin, she also plays viola. As a performer Muriel has played in many ensembles including the Omaha Area Youth Orchestra’s Youth Philharmonic and Youth Symphony, the Iowa All-State Orchestra, the Hastings Symphony Orchestra, the UNL Symphony Orchestra, the UNL Philharmonia chamber & opera orchestra and Orchestra Omaha. Within these ensembles she held a variety of leadership positions, including principal 2nd violin in the UNL Symphony Orchestra & Philharmonia and assistant/acting principal viola in Orchestra Omaha. In January 2008, she had the opportunity to perform with the Philharmonia at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Also while at UNL, Muriel served as president for the university chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association for four years.
Hannah Jensen Violin, Fiddling Hannah Jensen graduated from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance. She began her studies at the age of seven in the Suzuki method at the Indiana University String Academy. After moving to Nebraska, she regularly performed in Lincoln’s Junior Youth Orchestra and Youth Symphony. While in college at UNL, Hannah studied violin with Professor David Neely and Julie Yoon from the Chiara String Quartet. She played extensively in the Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra, and studied chamber music with members of the Chiara String Quartet playing in quartets and trios. In the summer of 2009, she attended the Marrowstone Music Festival as a Fellow performing in chamber groups, the Festival Orchestra, the Fellow Chamber Orchestra, and a master class for Brian Lewis. Currently, Hannah resides in Lincoln with her husband and bulldog. There she performs with the Lincoln Symphony, records tracks for local studios, and actively teaches in her home studio.
Lisa Nielsen Violin
Lisa Nielsen has been an active Suzuki violin teacher in Lincoln and Omaha for over 20 years and is active in developing and nurturing her students’ musical experience through solo performance, chamber music and orchestra performances throughout the year. Lisa teaches strings at Union College in Lincoln. As a professional violinist, she performs in the Omaha and Lincoln Symphonies and leads the Classic Quartet, a professional freelance string quartet. She has performed with Mannheim Steamroller, and is a member of the Nebraska Chamber Symphony Orchestra. In the summer she is a member of the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra in Lakeside, Ohio. Ms. Nielsen holds a Bachelor or Music degree from the Mannes College of Music where she was a student of Shirley Givens, and holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln where she was a student of Arnold Schatz. Ms. Nielsen’s love of chamber music and orchestral literature has taken her to festivals all over the world including the American Conservatory at Fontainbleau France, Aspen, Grand Teton’s Orchestral Seminar and Chatauqua in New York among others.
Melissa Tatreau Violin, Viola, Fiddling Melissa Tatreau Holtmeier holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy from the University of WisconsinMilwaukee. She studied pedagogy with Darcy Drexler through the Wisconsin String Academy. She has studied violin with Dr. Paul Todd, Dr. Laura Kobayashi, Ms. Anne Nagosky and Dr. Myron Kartman. She has registered training in Suzuki books 1-4 with Susan Kempter and has attended Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camps in San Diego and New York City. She was in the very first teacher certification class of the Mark O’Connor Violin Method, books 1 and 2, in 2009. This is Tatreau’s 9th year as a full time Artist-Faculty member at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. She was the assistant director of OCM’s summer institute in 2008. In recent summers she has enjoyed teaching yoga at OCMI! Tatreau has her 200 RYT in yoga and will be presenting “Yoga for Musicians” at the American String Teachers’ Association national convention in Louisville, KY, in March of 2014. Tatreau is also a regular coach for the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras and has taught strings classes part-time for Millard Public Schools. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the American String Teachers’ Association and the Omaha Musicians’ Union. As a performing artist on both violin and viola, Tatreau has played with Mary J. Blige, Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rod Stewart, Josh Groban, Pam Tillis, The Lettermen, Michael W.Smith, Michael Buble, Mannheim Steamroller and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Tatreau is a founding member and manager of the Mahr String Quartet and has played with the Omaha, Lincoln, Sioux City and Tulsa Symphonies. Tatreau has also toured China and the USA with the Mantovani Orchestra.
Kirsten Wissink Violin Kirsten Wissink graduated with Honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May of 2012, where she studied Violin Performance. Her violin teachers and mentors have included Ronda Cole, Rebecca Fischer, Dana Meyer, David Neely, and Lisa Watkins, and she has also studied chamber music with the Chiara String Quartet. She began her violin training in the Suzuki method, and has participated in master classes with Brian Lewis and Stephen Clapp. She has been in numerous recitals and university productions as a soloist and chamber musician, including the Bach B-Minor Mass with the Chiara String Quartet in 2011. Some of the highlights of her performing career are playing in the orchestra with the Annie Moses Band at Carnegie Hall in January of 2012, and performing at the Grand Ole Opry House as a member of the Fine Arts Summer Academy’s Summer Pops Orchestra in July of 2013. As much as she loves to perform, she is passionate about teaching violin. A member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, she has completed Suzuki teacher training through Book 3 with Ronda Cole. She has taught private and group classes for the past four years at the Annie Moses Band’s Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville, TN. She has a private studio in Lincoln, NE, and directs small ensembles based out of the Lincoln Homeschool Orchestras. And in addition to teaching private lessons and group classes at the Omaha Conservatory of music, she is excited to lead teach in OCM’s new Violin Sprouts program.
Artist-Faculty Directory Cello Christina Allred Cello Christina Allred has her Bachelor and Master degrees in Music Performance from The University of Nebraska at Omaha studying with Dr. David Low. The Emerson String Quartet, Yehuda Hanani, and Sharon Robinson are groups and soloists with which she has participated in master classes. She can also be seen performing as a soloist and with several musical groups in the metro area, and she has recording experience with local bands and musical groups. In addition, Ms. Allred is a full time English teacher with Omaha Public Schools at South High, the district’s Arts Magnet high school. She is also endorsed in Gifted and Talented Education K-12 from the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at The University of Iowa, and is continuing her Suzuki cello endorsement through The Suzuki of the Americas.
Candace Jorgensen Cello, Director of Off-Site Operations Candace E.B. Jorgensen was once told at a young age that she “looked like a cello person,” picked up the instrument and never looked back. Originally hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jorgensen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Education from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. While pursuing her degree, she performed with strings and jazz ensembles at Doane and attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to perform in the UNL Symphony Orchestra. Jorgensen has a great love for musicals and has enjoyed playing in many theaters in Nebraska as well as in Chicago, Illinois where she played in the Chicago-area premier of “Little Women” and the national premier of In My Life” (Jedlika Center for Performing Arts), as well as the emotional show “The Last 5 Years” (Steele Beam Theatre). As a teacher, Ms. Jorgensen has enjoyed teaching classes, groups, and her private studio and is passionate about Suzuki philosophies and their impact on learners of all ages. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and enjoys expanding her Suzuki training each summer. In recent years, Jorgensen has traveled to and worked in Europe and Asia with her vocalist husband where she performed and taught music through any available platform. She spent two years in Hong Kong teaching English through music. While in Asia, she performed with the alternative rock band Noughts and Exes.
Margaret Lim Cello Margaret Lim, cellist, began her study of the cello at the age of six in Tucson, Arizona. Her teachers included Yvonne Tait, Helena Bell, Carol Work, Raya Garbousova and Channing Robbins. An alumni of the Omaha Area Youth Orchestra program, Ms. Lim went on to earn her Bachelor and Master degrees from the Juilliard School, in addition to completing her Suzuki certification under the tutelage of Channing Robbins at the School for Strings in New York City. A performing professional for over 25 years with the Omaha Symphony and Midlands String Quartet, Ms. Lim has travelled and performed internationally, including a world premiere of a commissioned piano quartet in Carnegie Hall with her sisters and brother-in-law, Lawrence Dutton, the violist of the Emerson String Quartet. Recent local chamber music performances include those with the Omaha Chamber Music Society, Joslyn Castle Consort and the Vespers Concert Series. Over the years, Ms. Lim has also shared the stage with notable acts including the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban, Quincy Jones and David Foster. As Music Series Coordinator at the Joslyn Art Museum from 1991-2005, Ms. Lim combined administrative skills with programming acumen to produce the following wildly popular series: Jazz on the Green, Bagels and Bach, First Friday Jam and Holiday Under Glass.
Tim Strang Cello Tim Strang joined the Omaha Symphony in the fall of 2011. A native of Davenport, Iowa, he began his cello studies at the age of 9 in a public school music program, and soon after began lessons with Janina Ehrlich at Augustana College. In high school, he performed with the Augustana College Orchestra and Quad City Symphony, as well as the Quad City Youth Symphony, of which he was principal cellist. He also appeard with the QCYSO as soloist in Shostakovichâ€™s Cello Concerto No. 1, and was the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. He went on to receive degrees from Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan in cello performance, studying with Felix Wang and Anthony Elliott, respectively. He graduated from Vanderbilt summa cum laude as a Harold Stirling Vanderbilt scholar and recipient of the Jean Keller Heard String prize. At Vanderbilt, he had many opportunities to perform new music, performing on the BMI composer in residence series and as part of a composition workshop exchange with the Royal Academy of Music in London. This passion continued in Ann Arbor, where he performed with U of Mâ€™s new music ensemble. He has performed in the summer at Round Top, Aspen, and with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, CO. In addition to playing with the Symphony, Tim plays for the Omaha Chamber Music Society and The Rangbrook Ensemble, as well as teaching private cello students.
Artist-Faculty Directory Piano Anne Madison Piano Pianist Anne Madison has performed throughout Europe and recorded works included on six compact discs. After earning Bachelor and Master of Music degrees with distinction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Baylor University, she continued her studies in one of the world’s great cities of music, receiving an Artist Diploma from the Vienna Conservatory in Vienna, Austria, where she concertized regularly as a soloist and as a collaborator with Vienna Philharmonic hornist Roland Horvath. Since returning to the United States, Madison has performed with several internationally recognized violin recitalists and appeared on concert series in Birmingham, England, Vienna, Austria, and in the Midwest. In recent years, Madison has taught on the faculty of the Carinthia International Piano Academy in Klagenfurt, Austria and the Tyrolean International Piano Academy in Innsbruck, Austria. She was also a featured soloist with Orchestra Omaha, performing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto on the final concert of its 10th anniversary season. Madison is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music and is active as a clinician, speaker, and adjudicator. She serves as Chair of the Piano Department at Omaha Conservatory of Music, where she has been a member of the Artist-Faculty since 2001.
Dr. Stacey Barelos Piano Omaha native Stacey Barelos is a performer, composer, and teacher. She specializes in the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, particularly the music of living composers. Regarding her first solo release, The Midwest American Piano Project, the American Record Guide said, “Stacey Barelos...plays with authority and poetic nuance, her beautiful tone captured vividly in this warm recording...” Barelos has also done extensive research on the piano music of American composer Henry Cowell, much of which can be seen on her website: www. cowellpiano.com. Centaur Records released her second CD, Henry Cowell: Piano Music, in 2012. As a composer, Stacey’s works have been performed across the U.S. and in Europe and Australia. In addition to her concert works, Dr. Barelos frequently writes works for her studio and her recent article, “Composing for Your Students!”, in the Missouri Music Teachers’ Association journal, NOTES, encourages other teachers to do the same. Currently, Dr. Barelos is on the organizing committee for the Omaha Under the Radar Festival (www. undertheradaromaha.com). Other upcoming projects include a series of concerts for the toy piano, works written in collaboration with several regional visual artists and dancers, and pieces for saxophone and woodwind quintet. For more information, see her website, www.staceybarelos.com. Stacey received her D.M.A degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also obtained degrees from Luther College in Iowa and Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Piano Yulia Kalashnikova Piano Yulia Kalashnikova is a native of Kazan, Russia. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in accompanying, chamber music, performance and pedagogy from Kazan State Conservatory in Kazan, Russia, where she studied with Alfia Burnasheva and Yuzefina Sokolskaya. Before coming to Omaha, Kalashnikova was a staff accompanist at Kazan State Conservatory as well as piano faculty at Palantai College of Music. As an accompanist, she performed extensively with Bel Canto Youth Choir, touring to China, England, and throughout the United States, including a performance at Lincoln Center in New York, New York. Currently, she is on the music faculty of Creighton University. Kalashnikova is also an active performer in Omaha’s music scene, performing in the Organ Vesper Series and Omaha Chamber Music Society concerts, as well as with fellow faculty members, Omaha Symphony members, and college students. Most recently she performed with the late violin virtuoso Eugene Fodor at the Holland Center for the Performing Arts.
Kathy Knebel Suzuki Piano Kathy Knebel is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied with the Norwegian pianist, Audun Ravnan. She earned both a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate student and held graduate assistantships in both accompanying and class piano teaching. She accompanied for the University of Nebraska Singers for three years under the direction of Dr. G. Edward Bruner. After graduation, Kathy began her study of the Suzuki Piano Method with outstanding Master Teachers, including Bruce Anderson and Cathy Williams-Hargrave. She taught privately in Omaha for 15 years. In June 2001, Kathy moved to Plano, TX to do additional pedagogy training with Cathy Williams-Hargrave. She taught for one year at the Suzuki Institute of Dallas before resuming private teaching. While in Texas, Kathy had the opportunity to attend workshops and to study privately with Ms. Sheila Paige. Ms. Paige is known nationally for her work with pianists who have suffered piano related injuries. Kathy was also an Associate Faculty Member at Collin Creek Community College where she taught class piano and accompanied vocal music students and musical theatre performances.
Dr. Boban Martic Piano Boban Martic holds a Doctorate in piano performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received his Bachelor of Arts (2002) and Master of Arts (2005) in piano performance at University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, and Master of Music in piano performance at Syracuse University (2006). A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Dr. Martic has earned many high graduate honors such as Eloise K. Heaton Graduate Fellowship and Hira Poncha Memorial Award from Syracuse University School of Music as an outstanding music student. He was also first place winner of the European Pedagogy Teaching Association competition in Serbia (2003), won third place at the II Isidor Bajic Piano Memorial in Novi Sad (2004), winner of the Syracuse University Orchestra Concerto Competition (2005) as well as earning numerous prestigious prizes in Serbia as an undergraduate competitor. Boban Martic has studied piano with renowned pianists and professors such as Ninoslav Živkovic, Wei-Yi Yang, Steven Heyman, Paul Barnes and Mark Clinton. He has also performed in masterclasses for many renowned pianists, such as Claude Frank, Paul Gulda, Melvin Tan, and Dorian Leljak. While at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Boban Martic served as Dr. Mark Clinton’s studio assistant, the highest teaching responsibility given to a D.M.A. student.
Lynne Swingen Piano
Lynne Swingen started taking piano lessons at the age of 5 and studied for many years before and after college with Alice Davis Berryman in Omaha. She began teaching students of her own in high school and has continued teaching for almost 40 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in General Music Education from Hastings College where she studied the piano with Dorothy Tirrell and Willem Van Overeem and had master classes with Audun Ravnan and Gary Graffman. Lynne has enjoyed many forms of musical performance as a pianist, singer and accompanist with various school, community and church choruses, instrumental groups, and theater organizations including barbershop quartets, Nebraska Choral Arts Society, Voices of Omaha, Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum, Ralston Community Theater, and the Jewish Community Center Theater. She currently plays piano/keyboard for several worship services each week at two retirement villages and a church. She enjoys working with students of all ages and musical backgrounds and specializes in tailoring lessons to each individual’s abilities and interests, stressing a solid classical approach to piano study which includes technique, musicality, theory and performance. Lynne shines with beginning students, providing a strong foundation for musicianship and piano playing, as well as advanced students, giving them new ideas in technique and interpretation. She teaches several adult students who have fond memories of childhood lessons and are thoroughly enjoying revisiting and refreshing their musical skills.
Helen Wensel Piano Helen Wensel brings a lifetime of musical experience with her as a piano instructor at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. In addition to her instruction at OCM, she serves as the Women’s Choir director at Grace University in Omaha, NE and as a Music Specialist at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Music Education from San Jose State University, CA. Upon graduation in 2008, she moved to Texas to pursue a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting at The University of Texas - San Antonio. As the graduate teaching assistant at UTSA, Mrs. Wensel was the assistant conductor for the Madrigal Choir, Concert Choir, and the Women’s Chorus. A consummate student of music, Mrs. Wensel began playing piano as a young child and built upon on love for melody at the San Francisco Conservatory where she studied in the Preparatory Division from 1993- 2001. Mrs. Wensel began giving private piano lessons in college and became a state certified teacher in Texas following her graduate school time at UTSA. She served as the Head Choir Director at Fox Technical High School and Southwest High School in San Antonio, TX where she taught the Women’s Choir, Men’s Choir, Junior Varsity Mixed Choir, and Varsity Mixed Choir. Mrs. Wensel’s accolades include a Music Teachers National Association Outstanding Award, a Dean’s Scholar Award from SJSU, and The Samuel and Pamela R. Kirkpatrick Endowed Presidential Scholarship awarded by the UTSA. Since moving to Omaha in 2012, Mrs. Wensel has been an active member of the Omaha Symphonic Chorus.
Artist-Faculty Directory Voice Rachel Griggs Voice Rachel L Aalund Griggs is a Lyric Soprano originally from Beulah, ND. She moved to Omaha, NE after finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Midland University (then Midland Lutheran College). Rachel is part of the voice Artist-Faculty at Omaha Conservatory of Music. She also teaches at Cornerstone Christian School. Rachel is a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). When not teaching, she is working at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church as their Director of Music and Arts, leading their children’s, contemporary, and classical music and art. She has performed with a number of groups in the area including The Rangbrook Ensemble, Mastersingers, Masterworks, Class Act Productions, Fremont Festival Choir and Opera Omaha Chorus.
Cody Jorgensen Voice A native Nebraskan, Cody Jorgensen has dedicated his career to teaching, performing, and bringing vocal percussion and other innovative techniques to a cappella singing. A private voice instructor and small ensemble vocal coach at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, he is an active outreach clinician for the Omaha Conservatory of Music working with a cappella groups, quartets, show choirs, and school choruses on vocal technique, choral performance, and beat-boxing in schools throughout Eastern Nebraska. Cody’s performance career presented many opportunities to work with talented vocal students in groups and as soloists throughout the world. While working with Celebrity Cruises, his quartet developed a workshop series, encompassing music history, vocal technique, and vocal percussion. Cody taught the art of a cappella singing to thousands of enthusiastic students in Hong Kong, and presented workshops and master classes for music majors at such significant Asian institutions as the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, and the Singapore International School. In addition to his extensive work as an a cappella singer, Cody has also been active in the musical theater scene, performing roles in Musical Theater productions both in Nebraska and Chicago, IL. He spent several years with the Theater of the American West, engaging audiences in shows such as The Music Man, Into the Woods, and L’il Abner. He also played Professor Bhaer in the Chicago area premier of Little Women, the Musical at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center. Cody graduated from Doane College (NE) with a degree in Vocal Performance in 2004. His principal teachers include with Dr. Hannah Jo Smith and Tom Westfall.
Artist-Faculty Directory Guitar Greg Eden Guitar, Rock Academy Greg has been playing guitar for over 30 years and holds a Master’s degree in Guitar Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. He has studied with recording artists Michael Lee Firkins, Julian Gray, and Darren Housholder. Greg began his rock career as lead guitarist for the Los Angeles-based band More from 1991-1994. During that time he toured throughout southern California performing in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside, and Los Angeles. After studying jazz and classical guitar from 1998-2008, Greg helped form Nathan Wade and the Unforgiven, a country-rock band based out of Omaha, in 2009. Greg continues to tour around the Midwest with Nathan Wade performing over 80 shows a year. Greg is also a member of the Journey tribute band, ReCaptured. This band features some of Omaha’s best rock musicians and began performing in the summer of 2012.
Luke Polipnick Guitar, Composition, Jazz Luke Polipnick is a creative postmodern guitarist, composer, and educator in Omaha, Nebraska. He is originally from Minneapolis, MN, a city whose influence is noticeable in his avant garde populism, genre-blurring, and communal, “band” ethos. His writing and playing displays an emotive intensity and density that is balanced by plainly spoken, angular lyricism. The resulting music is an interpretation of the jazz diaspora distilled through free improvisational process and Americana, pop, electronica, and global folkloric vernaculars. Following studies in composition at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln under Dr. Randall Snyder, Polipnick studied at Northern Illinois University under acclaimed guitar virtuoso and educator Fareed Haque. Now based in Omaha, he maintains active ties to the Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City creative music communities, and tours regularly. Polipnick leads the Luke Polipnick Group, whose debut CD “Episodes” recently launched his own Eunonia label (EU1), and features Brooklyn drummer Mike Pride. Polipnick’s A Dozen Suns solo project just released a cassette tape (EU2) of electronically processed ambient doom and psychedelic bliss. He leads the bands Flamethrower, Deconunisms, Hotlines, and Type Type, as well as freelance sideman work and ad hoc improvising units. He is a member of the Artist-Faculty at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. Highlights:
■ Artist in Residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (2014). ■ Performances on the Spark, Soundfield, and Sonic Circuits festivals. ■ Music for film (Broken Ground – dir. Clay Masters) and fashion (Dan Richters).
Artist-Faculty Directory Winds/Brass/Percussion April Buss Flute April Buss is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln earning a Bachelor of Music Education degree with distinction. While at UNL, she was principal flutist with the UNL Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and has been a member of the UNL campus bands and Big Red Express. In 2006 she was runner-up in the Lincoln Municipal Bandâ€™s John Shildneck Young Artist Competition. In 2008, Ms. Buss was chosen as a member of the honor band for the 2008 CBDNA North Central Conference. She currently performs for services at Southwood Lutheran Church in Lincoln, and at various social functions and events. Ms. Bussâ€™s teaching experiences include work in the Lincoln Public Schools, Ralston Public Schools, various summer camps, and as a counselor for the UNL School of Music Winter Festival for Winds in Percussion. Ms. Buss is currently teaching general music and beginning band in the Ralston Public School District.
J.B. Ferguson Percussion J.B. Ferguson is a percussion/drumset teacher and regular performer in the Omaha metro area. In 2009, he received his Bachelor of Music-Technology Concentration degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he studied percussion with Dr. Tomm Roland and Ken Yoshida, and drumset with Carlos Figueroa. J.B. has taught in a variety of settings, including school drum lines, his own private studio, and clinics for elementary schools. As a performer, J.B. can be heard backing many local artists in local venues and on studio recordings. He began performing with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra as an extra musician in 2008, and since has gone to share with stage with Itzhak Perlman, Edgar Meyer, Jackie Evancho, and Grammy Award winning artists Victor Vanacore and Sylvia McNair.
Ken Meints Brass, Conducting, Composition Ken Meints has experience conducting orchestras in Illinois, California and Omaha and is a doctoral candidate in Orchestra Conducting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He holds a Master of Music in trombone from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His teaching experience spans the entire musical spectrum from preschool general music to university courses in trombone, theory, and performing ensembles. Additionally, this is his ninth year as music director of Orchestra Omaha, a community ensemble dedicated to enriching the cultural life of the community through high quality orchestral concerts presented free to the public.
Staff and Administration Ruth Meints Executive Director Ruth Meints has been the Executive Director of the Omaha Conservatory of Music (OCM) since 2005 and authored the Violin Sprouts curriculum launched this year. She currently teaches violin and viola at OCM and conducts various workshops around the country in violin pedagogy and music education, integrating current neuroscience findings into music teaching. While at OCM, she has created many music education programs, such as OCM’s Summer Institute, Winter Festival Orchestra, a full music program at the St. Augustine Indian Mission School, on-campus classes such as PlayIN, SingIN, and Club Theory, and the Inside the Mind of the Artist recital and master class series. Her teaching experience has included head of the string department at Azusa Pacific University and faculty at Biola University in the Los Angeles area. Ruth received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Master of Music degree with an emphasis in Suzuki pedagogy from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville under the mentorship of John Kendall, pioneer in bringing the Suzuki philosophy to the United States.
Diane Owens Director of Operations Diane Owens, Director of Operations for the Omaha Conservatory of Music, is a unique professional who has successfully balanced three career paths to very high levels: Administrator, Educator and Professional Singer. Her administrative skills have been honed in various business settings including serving three years as Office Manager for Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Music, Receptionist/Administrative Assistant for Ensign Engineering in Salt Lake City, and most recently as an Accounts Receivable Customer Service Representative for Medco. Diane’s career as an educator began in Iowa City where she served on the Vocal Music Faculty at South East Jr. High and City High School, having received her Bachelor of Music with High Honors from the University of Iowa. She then obtained her Master of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and a Zertifikat in German from the Goethe-Institut in Germany. Since then, she has served continuously on faculties in universities, private schools and as a teaching artist in outreach programs in public schools throughout the nation. Diane has maintained her teaching license in Iowa, and obtained licensing as a substitute teacher in Nebraska. Presently, she is a member of Creighton University’s voice faculty. As a professional singer, she has appeared as soprano soloist with The Pittsburgh Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, San Bernardino Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Lake Forest Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Utah Opera, Ballet West, Civic Light Opera, Utah Symphony, Boise Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera Theatre, Orquesta Sinfonica del Valle in South America, and many others. Her awards include Regional Finalist with the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions in both Cleveland and Toronto, Second Prize in both Cleveland and Miami in the Bel Canto Singing Competition and she received the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Award in Voice, “the highest honor for an artist in the state.”
Kevin Mahler Director of Development Kevin Mahler is the Director of Development for the Omaha Conservatory of Music. Kevin works with donors to secure philanthropic gifts for the Omaha Conservatory of Music and its many educational offerings that enrich the community. Before joining Omaha Conservatory of Music, Kevin worked at The Blue Barn Theatre and Creighton University. He holds a Master’s degree in organizational communication from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s degree from The University of Iowa in English and religious studies.
Staff and Administration Candace Jorgensen Director of Off-Site Operations Candace E.B. Jorgensen was once told at a young age that she “looked like a cello person,” picked up the instrument and never looked back. Originally hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jorgensen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Education from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. While pursuing her degree, she performed with strings and jazz ensembles at Doane and attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to perform in the UNL Symphony Orchestra. Jorgensen has a great love for musicals and has enjoyed playing in many theaters in Nebraska as well as in Chicago, Illinois where she played in the Chicago-area premier of “Little Women” and the national premier of In My Life” (Jedlika Center for Performing Arts), as well as the emotional show “The Last 5 Years” (Steele Beam Theatre). As a teacher, Ms. Jorgensen has enjoyed teaching classes, groups, and her private studio and is passionate about Suzuki philosophies and their impact on learners of all ages. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and enjoys expanding her Suzuki training each summer. In recent years, Jorgensen has traveled to and worked in Europe and Asia with her vocalist husband where she performed and taught music through any available platform. She spent two years in Hong Kong teaching English through music. While in Asia, she performed with the alternative rock band Noughts and Exes.
Victoria Rihanek Director of Finance Victoria came to us after working in the field of public accounting for 18 years as a full-charge bookkeeper. Her duties included accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank reconciliations, sales tax, payroll tax, fixed assets, and preparation of financial statements. She has done the books for various business industries including retail based, service based, restaurants and non-profits. In addition, she has played the flute for eight years and attended summer music camps in Lincoln, Wayne, and Madison, WI. She is married and shares her home with two girls, 3 cats, and 2 beta fish. Both of her daughters are involved in music at OCM; Kirsten plays trombone and guitar, and Bethany plays violin.
Gina Dvorak Executive Assistant/Media Specialist Gina Dvorak joined the Omaha Conservatory of Music as assistant to Executive Director Ruth Meints and also handles much of the OCM social media. Gina received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and began her journalism career as a page designer/copy editor for the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Ind., before transferring to Palm Springs, Calif. The bulk of her career was spent with the Los Angeles News Group, starting as a page designer/copy editor for the San Bernardino Sun and working her way up the ranks to become Emerging Platforms Director, handling mobile and strategizing social media for nine newspapers across the greater Los Angeles area. A native of rural Schuyler, Neb., Gina is glad to be back in Nebraska and closer to family, and she looks forward to helping OCM further its relationship with the community.
Staff and Administration Jennifer Coots Registrar, Database Administrator Jennifer Coots is the Registrar for the Omaha Conservatory of Music. She began a career in computer programming, obtaining an Associate’s Degree in Computer Programing and Network Management from Vatterott College in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 2001. She worked for the Missouri Department of Transportation District One in Computer Sciences. She also served as Technical Support for Vatterott Global Online, as well as working in Career Services, aiding students in job placement. She served the college as a substitute teacher both on campus and in the online classes. She has also enjoyed volunteering at the Community Hospital of Fairfax, Missouri. Jennifer is currently studying viola at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, and is an active member of the community. She also plays viola as a part of the Myelin Ensemble.
Chrissie Matthews Receptionist, Administrative Assistant Chrissie is the Receptionist / Administrative Assistant for Omaha Conservatory of Music, a role that allows her to interact with families, Artist-Faculty and office staff. Before joining Omaha Conservatory of Music, Chrissie worked at Mutual of Omaha Bank as a teller. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bellevue University in Behavioral Sciences.