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SMTD Welcomes Kirsten Docter in Fall 2021

Prof. Kirsten Docter posed with viola

Photo credit: Tanya Rosen Jones

Kirsten Docter will join the School of Music, Theatre & Dance as a Visiting Associate Professor of Music in the Department of Strings during the 2021-22 academic year.

“I am thrilled to be joining the highly esteemed School of Music, Theatre & Dance”, said Docter. “I look forward to working with the students in small ensemble playing, and to interacting with the faculty, for whom I have so much respect. I hope to share my love of chamber music with the greater University and Ann Arbor communities.”

Docter is an accomplished string musician and educator who currently serves as Associate Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. First prize wins at the Primrose International and American String Teachers Association Viola Competitions launched her on a career that includes a 23-year tenure with the Cavani Quartet, concerts on major series and festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Australia, and numerous appointments as a master class clinician and teacher. 

“I am pleased to welcome Kirsten Docter to the School of Music, Theatre & Dance,” said Dean David Gier. “Kirsten is an outstanding performing artist and a highly sought after educator of viola, with a passion for chamber music performance. She will be a wonderful addition to our Department of Strings.”

During her time as violist of the award-winning Cavani String Quartet, Docter performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, Festival de L’Epau in France, and the Honolulu Chamber Music Society. She has performed with the quartet in features on public radio programs Performance Today and St. Paul Sunday, and television programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. The quartet was also honored with an award from ASCAP-Chamber Music America for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, as well as Guarneri String Quartet Residency Awards and Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Grants.

“We are so thrilled to include Kirsten Docter as an exciting addition to the string faculty for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year,” said Prof. David Halen, co-chair of the Department of Strings. “Her string quartet experience and background is immense, and her coaching is renowned for energy and effectiveness.” 

Docter’s festival appearances include performances at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Mimir Chamber Music Festival (Texas and Melbourne, Australia), Sitka Summer Music, Interlochen, Kneisel Hall, Yale Summer School of Music and Art at Norfolk, and the Perlman Music Program. She has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Jaime Laredo, Alisa Weilerstein, Stephanie Blythe, Nathan Gunn, Alessio Bax, and members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Takács, Emerson, Borodin, and Amadeus string quartets. Her work can be heard on the Azica, Albany, New World, and Gasparo labels. She recently played the world premiere of Jesse Jones’ Viola Concerto with Tim Weiss and the Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble. 

Docter formerly served on the chamber music and viola faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music and has given numerous master classes at universities and music schools. She has been a jury member of the Primrose International Viola, Fischoff National Chamber Music, and Sphinx competitions. In addition to her position at Oberlin, she is on the viola faculty of the Perlman Music Program and Workshop, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Docter is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory with additional studies at the Curtis Institute of Music.


Professor Kirsten Doctor compiled a #SMTDMixtapes and shared her thoughts on the playlist:

This is some of the music that I’ve been listening to for comfort, enjoyment, and distraction during the last year. The chamber music selections are pieces I also enjoy playing; I listen with fond memories of live performances and look forward to more. I have chosen some older recordings (Quartetto Italiano, Vegh Quartet) in part because they have the energy of live performances (my viola teacher Karen Tuttle is playing in the Brahms Sextet!). Most of the other tracks feature singers. I absolutely adore Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s voice (could it be because she was a violist before making her career as a mezzo!?). Cecile McLorin Salvant (heard here with the Catalyst String Quartet) seems to me the modern-day Ella; what versatility they both have! Jacqui Armbruster (another violist and current student of mine) of the Witherbees also has a uniquely soulful voice.