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Violist Kirsten Docter '92 to Join Oberlin Conservatory Faculty

February 5, 2016
Erich Burnett
Kirsten Docter

Kirsten Docter, a longtime educator and chamber musician with the award-winning Cavani Quartet, has been named Associate Professor of Viola at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

The appointment represents a sort of homecoming for Docter, who earned a bachelor of music in viola performance at Oberlin in 1992 and has taught viola and coached chamber music as visiting faculty since 2006. She will begin her appointment July 1.

“I’m a proud Oberlin graduate, and I feel like I know what it means to be a student here,” says Docter, citing Oberlin’s dedication to social activism and entrepreneurship, as well as its pioneering support of the double degree.

“Students today are asked to be much broader in their scope,” she says. “I love the thoughtfulness of Oberlin students. They know what it means to be musicians."

The same can be said of Docter. A first-prize winner of the Primrose International and American String Teachers Association viola competitions, she has performed on major series and in festivals throughout North America and Europe. She has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Robert Mann, Donald Weilerstein, Stephanie Blythe, and countless other prominent artists.

With the Cleveland-based Cavani Quartet, Docter won the Naumberg Chamber Music Award and was named Musical America’s Young Artist of the Year. Cavani earned Chamber Music America’s Guarneri String Quartet Award for Artistic Excellence—and was the only ensemble to receive the honor twice.

Since 1993, Docter has served on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music. The Cavani Quartet has been ensemble in residence at CIM since 1988.

Throughout her career, Docter and her Cavani colleagues have demonstrated tireless devotion to educational outreach, and they routinely perform free concerts for young audiences and others. The quartet is renowned for embracing a wide range of art forms, from master works to modern compositions, and for developing programs that incorporate poetry, dance, and visual art.

“Kirsten is much admired as a violist, a chamber musician, and a teacher," says Dean of the Conservatory Andrea Kalyn. "Her work reflects all that we seek to instill in our students—the highest levels of artistry, professional flexibility, and imagination, and a commitment to taking great music into the world. We are delighted to welcome Kirsten to her new role on the Oberlin faculty."

At Oberlin, Docter will play a pivotal role in instruction of viola students, in addition to leading a weekly studio class and coaching chamber ensembles.

As an undergraduate, Docter studied with Jeffery Irvine and Lynne Ramsey. She continued her education at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she earned an artist diploma and studied under Karen Tuttle.

Docter lives in suburban Cleveland with her husband, arts administrator Paul Cox, and their sons, Sebastian and Benjamin.

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