Musical Direction

Dr. Julie Skadsem


Dr. Julie Skadsem (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Choral Music Education and Conducting at the University of Michigan where she conducts the Women’s Glee Club and teaches courses in conducting, choral techniques and vocal methods.  She has earned degrees in choral music education from St. Olaf College (B.A.), Florida State University (M.M.E.), and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (Ph.D.).

Before coming to Michigan in fall 2006, Skadsem was Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Alabama where she taught courses in choir, conducting and music education, and was the Founding Director of the Birmingham Children’s Choir.  She taught vocal music (7-12) in Ironwood, Michigan and is an active clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor.

She is a member of the VoiceCare Network and is certified in Dalcroze eurhythmics, Orff-Schulwerk and Kodaly. In addition to her choral work, Skadsem is also an active researcher.  Her research on choral conducting and rehearsal techniques has been presented at MENC, ACDA and the Southeastern Music Education Symposium, and is being published at the state, regional, and national levels.  She currently serves on the editorial board of the Southern Music Education Journal.

Katherine Rohwer


Katherine Rohwer (she/her) is currently pursuing a DMA in Choral Conducting at the University of Michigan, studying under Dr. Eugene Rogers. Additionally, she serves as Lecturer of Choral Music at Eastern Michigan University where she conducts the treble ensembles, EMU Vision and Voices EMU. Katherine earned degrees in Choral Music Education and Vocal Performance from Western Michigan University and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from U-M. While at Michigan, Katherine has served as the opera chorus master, music director of Out of the Blue, assistant conductor of the Arts Chorale and Women’s Glee Club, conductor of Orpheus Singers, and co-conductor of the Chamber Choir. 

Previously, she was the Director of Choirs at Stevensville Lakeshore High School, where she led four curricular ensembles, directed the musical theater program, and taught music theory. Ensembles under her direction consistently received superior and excellent ratings at District and State Festivals and were honored with performances at the American Choral Directors Association Michigan State Conference and the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. Katherine was selected as the R.J. Johnson Distinguished Educator in 2019 by Lakeshore Public Schools.

An active chorister, Katherine is an alumna of the World Youth Choir, with whom she explored and performed a vast array of musical styles under the direction of renowned conductors, including a performance at the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Awards Ceremony. She served as the alto section leader for the World Youth Choir’s 2018 session in China and is a regular member of the international chamber choir, Time Ensemble. In her spare time, she enjoys dog spotting, hiking, spoiling her niece and nephew, taste-testing for the amazing cooks in her life, and the occasional game of ping-pong.

Gabriel Merrill-Steskal


Gabriel Merrill-Steskal (he/him) is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance at the University of Michigan, where he studies with Logan Skelton. An avid performer and collaborator on both modern and period pianos, he recently won second prize at the 1st Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition and studies fortepiano with Matthew Bengtson.

Before completing his masters at the University of Michigan, he graduated summa cum laude from Whitman College, where he studied piano with David Hyun-Su Kim and completed a double major in music and chemistry, receiving honors in both majors and the Campbell Award for outstanding senior recital. In addition to his performance activities, Gabriel is an active teacher and scholar.

His most recent research project involves studying prolongational aspects of folk-based pitch structures in Bartók’s music. Aside from all things piano, he enjoys spending time outside running and rock climbing.