University of Pikeville advances Choir Program

The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) plans to broaden its choir program by recently naming John Eric Rutherford as its new Associate Professor/Director of Choral and Commercial Vocal Music Studies.  

Rutherford holds a bachelor’s of music education degree from Otterbein University, a master’s of music from Northwestern University, and a doctorate of musical arts from the University of Washington. He served as Dean of Fine Arts and music professor at Independence Community College from 2010 to 2018. In 2018, he donned the mantle of Interim Artistic Director for the William Inge Festival, Kansas’ official theatre, including Carlyle Brown and Todd London.  

Rutherford has 15 years of teaching experience, including serving as Assistant Director of Chapel Choir at Northwestern University, instructor of voice at the University of Washington, and director of choral ensembles at Heath High School in Ohio. 

Rutherford is also an accomplished tenor in both opera and solo work. Some notable collaborations include masterclasses with Renee Fleming and Sherrill Milnes, and working with Eric Whitacre towards the completion of his Rock Opera Paradise Lost in conjunction with Northwestern University. He has appeared in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte as Fernando, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride as Jenik, Piccinni’s La Bouna Figliuola as Il Marchese, and Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander. His concert works include performances of Schubert’s Mass in G, Bach’s 21st Cantata, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus, Mozart’s C Minor Mass and Handel’s Joshua. 

Rutherford has also been a featured soloist in many concerts and performances at a variety of venues, including Door County Music Festival, Piccini Theatre in Bari, Italy, Seattle Opera, Elmhurst Symphony and Columbus Opera Theatre. 

At UPIKE, Rutherford plans to advance the choir program by directing the concert choir, teaching music theory, music appreciation and providing private voice instruction. 

“My mission is to help my students become better vocalists and have fun while at it,” said Rutherford. “I hold my students to high standards and work hard to develop a sense of community in the UPIKE choirs. We encourage all skill levels to become a part of our choirs. Beginners, community members, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to join us and help the UPIKE choirs grow while enjoying making music together.”

UPIKE Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jennifer Dugan, Ph.D., is delighted to welcome Rutherford to campus. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Eric Rutherford as our new Director of Choral and Vocal Studies and Associate Professor of Music,” said Dugan. “Dr. Rutherford brings a wealth of experiences working with students and community members to raise voices in song. He brings new energy to UPIKE’s fine arts programming and will help make this campus and these mountains sing.”

For more information or to join the UPIKE Choir Program, please email Rutherford at or call (620) 205-6814.