Davenport Zither

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.

Thank you,

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


Other Instrumentalists

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