The Hurley School of Music Develops

“The dedication of the Ed E. Hurley Memorial Music Building
on Sunday, April 19, 1964, provided a building
badly needed at Centenary over a long period of time.
This stands as one of the most beautiful buildings on the Centenary campus, and one which will enable our
Department of Music to move forward in a field which
is of great interest to the many music lovers of this area.
We are most grateful to Mrs. Hurley, a member of our
Board of Trustees, for this magnificent gift.”
(Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Centenary College of Louisiana, May 23, 1964.)

If there is one name most closely associated with music study at Centenary it is that of the School of Music’s generous benefactor, Mrs. Gladys Hurley. In 1964, Centenary’s School of Music moved into new facilities, given by Mrs. Hurley in memory of her late husband, Shreveport oilman Ed E. Hurley. Here, Centenary’s music program, as we know it today, began to take shape. The music library expanded, originally occupying a modern-day downstairs classroom.40 The new recital hall offered an excellent venue for public performances.

hurley under construction

However, Mrs. Hurley—whom Professor Emeritus of Music Ronald Dean remembers as a “very unassuming delightful little Arkansas lady”—gave much more than a building whose practice rooms and classrooms have become a second home for many music students. Through its educational mission and tradition of community enrichment, the Hurley School of Music has become a staple of the cultural life well beyond Centenary’s campus.

In 1973, the School of Music, under the direction of Dr. Frank Carroll, launched the Friends of Music Series.41 These concerts, featuring a variety of professional musicians, continue to enhance the regional musical scene. In the same year, Dr. Carroll contributed an article to Centenary, a magazine for alumni/ae, examining the goals and achievement of the thriving music department in the context of the College’s educational mission.

"The School of Music enjoys a rather special place in the scheme of things at Centenary. While firmly committed to the liberal arts ideal and happy to be a part of this venture, as a department offering a professional degree in music we are also able to encourage that degree of specialization necessary for the development and training of fine musical talents… In addition to the course offerings that make such an arrangement possible and productive, we have developed a spirit, a student body and a faculty that is dedicated to achieving significant musical and artistic success within the framework of a liberal arts institution."42

people at hurley

The music program’s mission remained the same, but on August 18, 1975, the Board of Trustees renamed it the Gladys F. Hurley School of Music in honor of its preeminent supporter.43 The Hurley School of Music continued to field numerous vocal and instrumental ensembles. After the decline of Kollege Kapers, jazz ensembles like the pep band and Dixieland Band had led sporadic existences. In the fall of 1976, Jazz ensemble finally emerged as a distinct course and has continued as such ever since.44 Centenary had previously hosted instrumental ensembles with student and community members, but Hurley Chamber Orchestra became a for-credit course in 197745 under the direction of Dr. Carroll. Opera Workshop performed a broad spectrum of literature, including “The Old Woman and the Pig,” an opera written by Dr. Carroll. These experiences have proved valuable for former “OpShop” students such as Karl Dent, Twyla Robinson, Timothy Jones, Margaret Williams Jones, and Martile Rowland who have gone on to operatic success. The vocal ensemble Camerata, founded in 1983, succeeded other choral chamber groups that had developed over the years.46 Camerata’s annual Christmas program attracted community interest, and the group also began to perform at Renaissance festivals. 47

With professors like Nena Wideman and Constance Knox Caroll, the piano department carried on its tradition of excellence on the foundation laid by former Director of the School of Music Ralph Squires. In the 1960s and 70s, Centenary had a student chapter of the local American Guild of Organists chapter. In 1971, Schantz installed the current organ console. The organ is now about double the size the 1956 instrument with additions by Schantz, Moller and Dan Garland.48

In 1990, the Hurley Music Library, adjacent to the School of Music, was dedicated. It is the only music library in the ArkLaTex region, and it houses several special collections: the Wayne Sanders Broadway Sheet Music Collection, the David Redwine Opera Recordings Collection, the Robert Murray Opera Score Collection, the Virginia Carlton Collection of West African Musical Instruments, and the Lewis Bettinger Soundtracks Collection.