Digital History at Ursinus

Founder's Day 1986: A Tribute to Music

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Founder's Day 1986: A Tribute to Music


An account of the dedication ceremony of the new Ursinus Organ. It was dedicated in memory of Russel E. Heefner, and the establishment of the William F. Heefer Chair of Music


Ursinusiana, Ursinus Bulletin, 1967-1987, January 1987, p 6.






UC Bulletin, 1967-1987, January 1987

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For everyone at Ursinus College who loves music, Founders' Day 1986 was the jubilant culmination of a year filled with anticipation.
It was the day the new Heefner Memorial Organ was dedicated. It was the day that the William F. Heefner Chair of Music was officially established, and John H. French, head of the music department, was installed in that chair. It was a day on which the College awarded honorary degrees to two distinguished music educators. And it was the day that the new organ was played publically[sic] for the first time, an exhilarating experience for all who heard it.
Coincidentally, it was also the day of Lydias. Mrs. Lydia V. Heefner, of Perkasie, who gave the new pipe organ to the College in memory of her late husband, Russell E. Heefner; and Lydia French, who turned six that day, and who slept peacefully next to her sister Rachael through their father's installation ceremony.
During the Founders' Day convocation, Ursinus President Richard P. Richter awareded honorary Doctors of Humane Letters to Dr. Joseph W. Polisi, president of The Juilliard School in New York; and to Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt, artistic director and principal conductor of Westminster Choir College. Dr. Polisi was principal speaker at the mid-year commencement exercises. During the ceremony, the college graduated 19 students, conferring one Associate's and 18 Bachelors' degrees.
Highlights of the convocation were the dedication of the Heefner Chair and the official presentation of the new pipe organ to the College by Mrs. Heefner. Her son, William F. Heefner '42, who endowed the Heefner Chair, was first to play the organ publicly, performing the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, for which he received with a standing ovation. Mr. Heefner, a Morrisville attorney, is vice-president and treasurer of the Ursinus Board of Directors, and chairman of the Campaign for Ursinus. As an undergraduate at Ursinus, he had been the organist for the College's daily chapel services. For the past 20 years, he has been organist and music director of Peace Lutheran Church in Perkasie. The new organ was built by Austin Organs, Incorporated, Hartford, Conn.
"May music of all types flourish at this college in the years ahead, and may each one of you be enriched by the extraordinary beauty which is brought to us all by the diverse wonders of the musical world," Dr. Polisi told the degree candidates.
Examing the age-old tension between serious and commercially-successful music, Dr. Polisi said, "As the next generation of individuals to lead and support our society, I would hope that you would understand the primary place which art has in preserving our culture and quality of life. The arts help us to better understand ourselves, and to focus more clearly the experiences and ideas that give value to human life."
In accepting the Heefner Chair, Mr. French thanked the College administration for its "renewed commitment to the arts and their place in liberal education." He praised the members of his choirs and said that they "share this honor with me."
Later on Founders' Day afternoon, a dedicatory concert was given on the new organ by Douglas Tester, organist and choir director at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Abington, Pa. Performing with Mr. Tester were the Ursinus College Choir, the Clarendon Brass Ensemble, and soloists Edwina Dunkle, soprano, who is Mr. French's wife; Nancy Curtis, alto; Alan Gerber, class of '81, tenor; and Reginald Pindell, bass.

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Ursinus Bulletin article


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