Centre College offers an extraordinary wealth of opportunities for students who wish to pursue their love of music in college.

Centre’s music faculty are unbelievably passionate and dedicated to developing your potential as a musician and student of music. All are fabulous and inspiring musicians, and often develop life-long friendships with their students.

Whether you want to play in a first-rate college orchestra or sing in a choir, perform in an opera or musical, play in our famous Kentucky music ensemble, learn about traditional music from exotic cultures, work with some of the amazing world-class artists who come to the Norton Center for the Arts, or study music from some of our internationally acclaimed faculty, Centre’s music program is brimming with possibilities.

Special Scholarships for Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Scholarship (drama and/or music) program recognizes talented musicians, actors, and theater technicians. Applicants compete for Performing Arts Scholarships, valued up to $5,000 per year and awarded by the drama and music programs. Students should have experience in and a commitment to further personal development in the musical or dramatic arts. Majoring in drama or music is not required. Details about the scholarship can be found on the Special Scholarships web page.
 

Our students are a diverse bunch of extremely talented young men and women. Some are classically trained instrumentalists and vocalists, others are composers who enjoy writing popular music, music for their own instrument, or for an ensemble. Some are blues pianists, some specialize in digital music technology, while others play traditional banjo music or specialize in Baroque vocal music. Our majors pursue graduate work in performance, musicology, composition, music education, and music therapy. Many of our students are double majors or students who simply can’t stop making music while they major in another field. They bring their love of music to their careers as doctors, educators, researchers, and lawyers.
 
The Music Program at Centre College seeks to provide a meaningful experience with music of high quality for every student at the College. We are committed to:
• Enabling students to listen perceptively and communicate clearly about music.
• Developing each student’s understanding of the interrelationship of the history, theory, and practice of music.
• Increasing and broadening student appreciation of a variety of musical styles.
• Enabling students to become more accomplished, creative, and expressive musicians through participation in applied study and performance organizations.
• Preparing students with professional aspirations in music for employment and graduate studies in the discipline.

 

Read about the MUSIC program:

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MUSIC handbook:

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Nathan Link

Photo of  Nathan  Link
Associate Professor of Music • Chair of the Music Program Music, Performing Arts Program Work Grant Hall—122 Work Phone: 859.238.5430
Biography

Nathan Link is an associate professor of music. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2009, received a Stodghill Fellowship for the 2009-10 year, and is serving as a Mellon Global Fellow from 2010-2012, contributing to the development of an African and African-American Studies program at Centre. He held an NEH endowed professorship from 2014-16.

Prior to joining Centre’s faculty in 2006, he was an instructor at Yale University. He specializes in eighteenth-century opera, with strong secondary interests in nineteenth-century music and aesthetics, the theory of opera, African music, and country and popular music. He currently teaches courses in music history, humanities, and Kentucky music, and leads Centre’s Kentucky Ensemble. His publications have appeared in Oxford University Press’s Opera Quarterly, the Journal of the American Library Association, the Göttinger Händel Beiträge, and Opera Today, and he is currently working on two books, one on Handel’s operas and another on country music.

He serves as vice-president of both the American Handel Society and the American Musicological Society’s South-Central chapter. He earned his Ph.D. in music history, with distinction, from Yale University in 2006 with a dissertation on the operas of Georg Frideric Handel, his M.A. from the University of Washington in 2001 with a thesis on Johannes Brahms’s first string quartet, and his bachelor’s degree from Macalester College, cum laude, in 1992, with majors in English and music theory and composition.

Email: nathan.link@centre.edu

File last updated: 8/6/13

Laurence Bitensky

Photo of  Laurence S. Bitensky
W. George Matton Professor of Music Music, Performing Arts Program Work Grant Hall—120A Work Phone: 859.238.5449 Website: Myspace page: Website: Personal website:
Biography

Larry Bitensky is W. George Matton Professor of Music at Centre where he teaches composition, music theory, musicianship, and world music. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2012, and has served as chair of the music program.

Known for music described as “extraordinarily sensitive and beautiful” and “speaking directly to the heart,” composer and pianist Bitensky has been hailed for works that are satisfying for performers and communicative to audiences. With their emotional intensity, directness, lyrical and sinuous melodies, and funky, polyrhythmic grooves, his works range from wistfully nostalgic, deeply sad, and evocative, to exuberant, playful, and ecstatic.

Educated at Skidmore College, the New England Conservatory of Music, Ithaca College, and Cornell University, Bitensky’s musical personality is rooted in a range of influences. He often seeks to merge the complex structures and expressive range of the classical masters and the innovations of the 20th-century greats with the melodic and rhythmic invention and improvisatory flow of musical traditions from India, Indonesia, the Islamic and Jewish worlds, jazz, and the Grateful Dead. His travels as part of the College’s study abroad program have also allowed him to explore the musical cultures of Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and Bali.

Bitensky first came to national and international attention with a series of works inspired by Jewish musical tradition and culture. In these he developed a free, quasi-improvisatory lyricism and melodic richness that has become one of his signatures. These works include the award-winning Mishb’rey Yam, a song cycle based on Hebrew texts of the great medieval poet Yehudah Halevi; “…a perfect rest,” an orchestral rhapsody based on the traditional Jewish memorial chant; Awake, You Sleepers!, a concerto for trumpet and wind ensemble based on the sounds of the shofar; and Rapture, a piano work based on Chasidic folk melodies.

He has also received attention for works based on his long association with world-renowned trumpeter Vince DiMartino. These include Awake, You Sleepers!, described as “one of the finest additions to the trumpet and wind ensemble repertoire to date;” the polyrhythmic, jazz-infused “From those beginning notes of yearning,” for trumpet and piano; and the comic and macabre The Other Side, for trumpet and chamber ensemble.

A pianist since the age of six, Bitensky’s music is rooted in his sense of what is gratifying for a performer. He regularly returns to the piano as a source of renewal, and he has made numerous contributions to the contemporary piano literature. These include the brooding and melancholy The Alchemy of Solitude, the colorful and varied From the Corner Room, the poetic Scent of the World We Gave Up, Rapture, Shouts and Murmurs, and others.

Bitensky’s works have been recognized by numerous foundations and institutions: the Fromm Foundation, the Omaha Symphony, the New England Philharmonic, the Saint Mary’s University Kaplan Commissioning Project, the Big Ten Band Commission, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, the Columbia Orchestra, Jabez Press, the ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Award, the Kentucky Arts Council, the Music Teachers National Association, the Kentucky Music Teachers Association, the American Music Center, the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, the Friends and Enemies of New Music, the International Trumpet Guild, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, the Modern Chamber Players, the Harrid Conservatory, the Society of Composers, Inc., Duquesne University New Music Ensemble, Ensemble X, and the ASCAP Foundation Young Composers Competition.

Recorded on Mark Records and Sea Breeze Vista records, Bitensky’s music has been performed by numerous ensembles and at various festivals around North America, Europe, and Asia. His music is published by Silly Black Dog Music.

Email: larry.bitensky@centre.edu

File last updated: 10/16/13

Robert Seebacher

Photo of  Robert  Seebacher
Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Instrumental Programs Centre CollegeDivision I Work Grant Hall - 310
Biography

Robert Seebacher joined the Centre College faculty as assistant professor of music and director of instrumental programs in 2017.

Seebacher is music director and conductor of the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee, music director and conductor of the Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra in Alabama, and assistant conductor for the National Chorale in New York. He has appeared with the Lexington Philharmonic, Youngstown Symphony, Warren Philharmonic and Mobile Symphony orchestras. Seebacher’s previously held positions include director of orchestras and conductor of opera at the University of South Alabama as well as assistant conductor with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre and the Youngstown Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Seebacher served on the faculty of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts until its elimination by the Department of Education. While in residence there, he conducted opera and taught conducting, music theory and history, as well as French horn. He has conducted numerous all-state and honors orchestras in Kentucky, West Virginia and Alabama. His guest artist collaborations have included those with Chee-Yun, Béla Fleck, Mark O’Connor, Midori, the Canadian Brass, Pablo Sainz Villegas, The Harlem Quartet, Arlo Guthrie, and Lynn Harrell.

Seebacher has participated in training workshops at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan. He conducted the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as part of their inaugural conducting symposium. His teachers include William B. Slocum, Stephen L. Gage, John Nardolillo, Emily Freeman Brown and Gustav Meier.

Seebacher earned a B.A. in music education from Youngstown State University; an M.M. in orchestral conducting from Bowling Green State University; and a D.M.A. in music arts and orchestral conducting from the University of Kentucky.

Email: robert.seebacher@centre.edu

File last updated: 09/15/17

Johann Van Niekerk

Photo of  Johann  Van Niekerk
Assistant Professor of Music Music Work Office: Grant Hall-123 Work Phone: 859.238.6512
Biography

Johann Van Niekerk joined Centre’s faculty in 2015 as assistant professor of music. He is an active conductor, pianist, educator, writer and collaborative artist, originally from South Africa.

He earned his DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, his M.M. from Temple University and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He hails originally from the Republic of South Africa and has lived in the United States since 2009.

Email: johann.vanniekerk@centre.edu

File last updated: 9/28/15

 

Zach Klobnak

Photo of  Zach  Klobnak
College Organist and Instructor of Music Centre CollegeMusic Home Grant Hall— Work Phone: 859.238.5424
Biography

Zachary Klobnak is Centre’s Organist and Instructor of Organ, Harpsichord, and Piano. He is also Director of Music and Organist at the Presbyterian Church of Danville, where he directs the music program, administers the “Music on Main Street” concert series, and plays the church’s Taylor & Boody pipe organ.

A native of Iowa, Klobnak holds degrees from Luther College (B.A.), the University of Florida (M.M.), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (D.M.A.), where he held the Brownson Fellowship for organ studies. His principal organ teachers include Dana Robinson, Laura Ellis, and Gregory Peterson; he has also studied harpsichord with Kathryn Reed and choral conducting with Donald Nally, Fred Stoltzfus, and Timothy Peter.

Klobnak is an active recitalist, a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and studied French organ literature and design in Paris and in the Alps region of France. He has held church music positions in Illinois, Florida, and Iowa.

Email: zachary.klobnak@centre.edu

File last updated: 8/24/17