The Davenport Zither Ensemble at the German American Heritage Center and Museum formed in 2002 under the direction of Don Ockelmann (1931-2021). With encouragement from the Heritage Center staff and board, the group gathered reliably each Saturday morning for seventeen years to practice at the Heritage Center. From a core group of five musicians, the group grew over the years to be at one point the largest zither ensemble actively playing in the United States with over a dozen active players as late as 2017.
Our Saturday practices allowed us to prepare twice yearly concerts at the Heritage Center and/or in other locations around the greater Quad Cities and as far west as the Amana Colonies. The group, assisted by Tomy Temerson of Hanau, Germany, hosted national and international zither gatherings multiple times which added to the public awareness of zither music and the Heritage Center as it moved to establish its identity as a regional cultural depository which continues to share the story of the German-American immigrant experience to current and future generations. For several years, two individuals from the group performed as a duet for churches, libraries, and schools around our community, performing cultural outreach for the Heritage Center.
Sadly, as a result of deaths, illnesses, relocations, and the challenges faced by us all from the COVID-19 pandemic, the DZE has declined in size to the point that the group can no longer be sustained. For many years, beautiful music was played and wonderful memories were created by the DZE members. We feel it is time to officially notify the German American Heritage Center & Museum that the group is disbanding.
Don Ockelmann Alice Spencer Susan Harnung Michael Hustedde
(The DZE has donated instruments and funding to the Heritage Center as well as instruments and equipment to the Schwarzer Zither Ensemble of Washington, Missouri.)
2002-2021 GAHC Davenport Zither Ensemble under Don Ockelmann – Harfenzither
Marilyn Arvidson – Konzertzither Jerry Arvidson – Konzertzither
Schar Blevins – Konzertzither Katherine Bodenbender – Luftresonanz Zither
Jacqueline Franklin – Konzertzither Bess Frerichs – Zither
Brian Greene – Konzertzither Susan Harnung – Luftresonanz Zither
Esther Hicks – Konzertzither Ron Hillis – Zither, Guitar, Mandolin
Michael Hustedde – Harfenzither Richard Krueger – Konzertzither & Harmonica
Anne L. Prinz – Harfen & Alt Zither & Vocalist Cheryl Schroeder – Konzertzither
Krissie Shiroma – Konzertzither Jennifer Smith – Konzertzither & Bass
Alice Spencer – Harfen & Quint Zither Debra Story – Harfenzither
Hal Story – Harfenzither Bonnie Walling – Luftresonanz Zither
Barbara Weber – Luftresonanz Zither
Lucas Berns – Double Bass Nancy Burgess – Vocalist
Phyllis Dobbins – Autoharp Linda Dowd – Guitar
Danielle Harris – Bass Larry R. Johnston – Psaltry
Mary McAndrew – Bass & Autoharp Harvey Prinz – Hackbrett/Hammered Dulcimer
Lyle Stratton – Guitar Anita Sundin – Autoharp
Matt Trimble – Double Bass James Van Speybroeck – harp