Youth Symphony Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic Orchestra Interim Conductor
Christopher Ramaekers is currently Director of Orchestras at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Associate Conductor of the Chicago Composers Orchestra, and Artistic Director of the Davis Theater Concert Series for Access Contemporary Music. He has been Music Director of the Orchestra of St. Vincent’s and the Hyde Park Youth Symphony, Principal Conductor of the Ravenswood Community Orchestra, and spends the summers as Director of Orchestras at Camp Encore/Coda in Sweden, Maine. As a guest conductor, he has appeared with the Kalamazoo Symphony, Skokie Valley Symphony, Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra, Lake Forest Civic Orchestra, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Chicago Opera Vanguard, and internationally with the Berlin Sinfonietta.
Dr. Ramaekers has held fellowships with the Allentown (PA) Symphony Orchestra and the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, WI. He was winner of the 2011 American Prize in Orchestral Conducting and holds degrees from Western Michigan University and Northwestern University.
Youth String Ensemble Conductor
Michele Ottesen currently serves as director of orchestras at Davenport North High School and Wood Intermediate. A native of Davenport, Ms. Ottesen spent seven years as a member of the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of James Dixon and Daniel Culver. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan. Her principal violin teachers include Doris Preucil, Andrés Cárdenes, and Stephen Shipps. Prior to returning to the Quad Cities, Ms. Ottesen was a member of the Dakota String Quartet, and served as principal second violin in the South Dakota Symphony. Ms. Ottesen just stepped down after twenty years as a member of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.
Prelude Strings Conductor
Dortha DeWit was born in Anchorage, Alaska and grew up in Michigan. Her early violin studies were with her mother, violinist, teacher and conductor Jean Manning. Mrs. DeWit's later teachers included Romeo Tata, Roland and Almita Vamos, Richard Young, and Josef Gingold. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University, where she also did doctoral coursework. In addition to maintaining a private violin and viola studio, Mrs. DeWit teaches at Augustana College and is an active performer throughout the Midwest. She has given lessons and led workshops for public school programs in Iowa and Michigan, and in 2014 conducted the SEISTA Junior Honors Orchestra. Mrs. DeWit is a thirty-five year member of the Quad City Symphony and also performs with the Serenata String Trio and a clarinet, violin, and piano trio at Augustana College. In addition to her work with the Quad City Symphony, Mrs. DeWit's orchestra experience includes playing for the West Michigan, Grand Rapids, and Clinton Symphonies, as well as orchestras in Quincy and Galesburg, Illinois and Evansville, IN. She helped found the Quad City Symphony Youth String Ensemble and was its principal conductor for twenty-two years and was also instrumental in forming the Quad City Symphony's Prelude Strings.
Youth Choir Conductor
Catherine Lyon is a Vocal Music Director at Pleasant Valley High School, where she directs Pleasant Valley Singers, a Concert Choir Women's Ensemble, Jazz Nouveau (a vocal jazz ensemble), and teaches voice lessons. Catherine holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Vocal Performance from Bob Jones University and Music Education from St. Ambrose University. She taught vocal music in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee, before moving to Iowa, where she has taught in both the Davenport and Pleasant Valley school districts. Mrs. Lyon maintains a large private voice studio, is a frequent adjudicator in Illinois and Iowa, and is an accompanist for private vocal students. Her students consistently place in state and regional competitions which allow them to compete at the national level. Catherine performs regularly with Augustana Choral Artists and is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Iowa Choral Director’s Association (ICDA) and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).