Music in the New Millennium

In 2000, festivities for Centenary’s one hundred and seventy fifth anniversary highlighted plans for the College’s expansion, including the renovation of the Hurley Music Building and construction of a new Arts Complex, which was begun the following year. After thirteen years of silence, the Centenary Summer Band series also made a comeback in 2000.

In that same year, the School of Music, in concert with the Nena Wideman Piano Competition’s fiftieth anniversary celebration, launched a fundraising campaign that netted a new Steinway Concert Grand. The ribbon cutting for the stunning piano kicked off a memorable and aptly named “Monster Concert.” This daring feat of collaborative musicianship combined the talents of eight former Wideman Competition winners, accompanists, and judges, playing eight Steinway grands on the stage of the Hurley School of Music.

Based on their record of choral excellence, Camerata, directed by Dr. Julia Thorn, received a prestigious invitation to perform at the 2003 conference of MENC: The National Association for Music Education in Savannah, Georgia. Camerata also sang as part of the Educational Concert Series in Morrow, Georgia on the stage of Spivey Hall, a much-coveted performance venue. Barbara Harlow, President of Santa Barbara Music Publishers also recognized the group’s “outstanding quality… very sensitive interpretation, and beautiful sound” and asked them to record a demonstration CD of new music. She maintains that, with this professional recording project slated for the fall of 2002, Camerata “will join an elite group of choirs from around the world.”

For the Centenary Choir, 2001 brought a landmark fifth consecutive White House Christmas performance. Tradition and group loyalty remain defining features of the Centenary Choir that now claims about 800 alumni/ae. The group has sung about in about thirty-two countries on five continents. In reality, the Centenary Choir has not only fulfilled its nickname “America’s Singing Ambassadors” but also made a mark as “Centenary’s singing publicity.” “It (the choir) is a really good recruiting arm for the College—the fact that it goes into churches and high schools whereas athletics go into college campuses. And we’re written up on the front of the paper and they’re written up on the sports page… and that’s another part of our reason for being….” comments Dr. Andress. “We have been fortunate over the years to be able to go and to do so much.”49 The Centenary Choir’s future promises even more globe-trotting as they plan their 2003 "Two-Continent Tour,” during which they will venture to South America, their sixth and last continent—although Dr. Andress still laments that he “can’t figure out how to sing to the penguins.”

In the spring 2002, the Centenary community watched the construction on the new Arts Complex progress as a gaping mud pit was transformed into the foundation for the new music facilities. The drone of bulldozers became a staple of the aural environment at Hurley, but music continued in spite of—and even because of—the construction. One afternoon, as percussion ensemble director Chandler Teague directed from a ledge overhead, music students turned the work site into an experiment in percussive sonorities, “playing” everything from accommodating steel beams to stray buckets. For some time to come, construction work will be a tangible reminder of the School Music’s progress. The new choral building and instrumental rehearsal hall, dedicated in November 2002, are only the first phase of the Arts Complex that will eventually occupy the entire northeast corner of Centenary’s campus.

Music’s 150th Anniversary at Centenary

2002 marks a pivotal year in life of music program. With the expansion of music facilities, enhanced course offerings, and an impressive lineup of performances, it is a time for the Hurley School of Music to project its multifaceted mission into the future. At the same time, the celebration of music’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary at Centenary is a reminder of the wise counsel of the 1924 Yoncopin feature on the music department:

“…It is well to mention what we have done in the past.”

From “red-faced” musicians with “greasy fiddles” to practice supervisors or a music department “taken up in earnest,” the rich history of Centenary’s music program merits mention—and a place in our collective memory. When the Trustees of antebellum Centenary encouraged the faculty to “induce students to form a musical band,” they initiated a tradition of music study that is now at the forefront of academic and cultural life at Centenary College of Louisiana. Throughout one hundred and fifty years of immense social and political change, the drive to cultivate the musical arts at Centenary has endured, flourished, and, ultimately, promises to be a formative force in the College’s future.


i Faculty Minutes, Centenary College of Louisiana, January 1838.
ii Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Centenary College of Louisiana, 1841-1907. July 30, 1850, 88.
iii “Centenary College of Louisiana.” New Orleans Christian Advocate. August 7, 1852.
iv Minutes…1841-1907. July 26, 1852, 105.
v “Centenary College of Louisiana.” New Orleans Christian Advocate. August 7, 1852.
vi Ibid.
vii “Centenary College of Louisiana.” New Orleans Christian Advocate. August 6, 1853.
viii Minutes…1841-1907. July 23, 1855, 125.
ix Minutes…1841-1907. July 22, 1861, 156.
x Minutes…1841-1907. July 29, 1858, 143.
*xi Johnson, William M. and A.E. Blackmar. “God and Our Rights,” A.E. Blackmar & Bro: New Orleans, 1861. (Accessed from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ncdhtml/hasmhome.html.)
xii “Centenary College of Louisiana.” New Orleans Christian Advocate. August 7, 1852.
*xiii Johnson, William M. and A.E. Blackmar. “God and Our Rights,” A.E. Blackmar & Bro: New Orleans, 1861.
*xiv “Select Catalogue of the Most Popular Music” A.E. Blackmar & Bro: New Orleans. (Accessed from http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/eaa/
xv Minutes…1841-1907. July 25, 1866, 166.
xvi Catalogue of Centenary College of Louisiana 1894-95 with Announcements for 1895-96, 30.
Early catalogues include announcements for the coming year. For example, the catalogue for 1924-25 with announcements for 1925-26 was actually printed in May of 1925.
xvii Minutes…1841-1907. May 30, 1892, 300.
xviii Brock, Eric J. Centenary College of Louisiana. Charleston: Arcadia 2002, 33.
xix Catalogue…1909-10.
xx Catalogue…1908-09.
xxi Catalogue…1909-10.
xxii Catalogue…1920-21.
xxiii “The Band and Glee Club.” The Yoncopin, 1925, 103.
xxiv “Musical Activities.” Yoncopin, 1924.
xxv Catalogue…Summer 1924.
xxvi “Ensemble Playing.” The Yoncopin, 1935.
xxvii “Musical Activities.” The Yoncopin, 1924.
xxviii “Glee Club.” The Yoncopin, 1924.
xxix “Centenary College Band.” The Yoncopin, 1926, 126.
xxx Catalogue…1928-29, 61.
xxxi Catalogue…1932-33.
*xxxii 2002 The National Association of Schools of Music 2002 Directory, 41.
xxxiii “The Centenary Band.” The Yoncopin, 1938.
xxxiv “The 1939 Band.” The Yoncopin, 1939.
xxxv Dr. Will Andress (interview), 1 May 2002.
xxxvi “The College Choir.” 1942 The Yoncopin, Centenary College of Louisiana.
*xxxvii “Wideman Piano Competition.” Centenary College of Louisiana. http://www.centenary.edu/departme/music/wideman.html.
xxxviii Professor Ronald E. Dean (email), 23 August 2002.
xxxix “Harlan to Offer Opera Workshop.” The Conglomerate. Centenary College of Louisiana. October 21, 1963, 4.
xl Professor Ronald E. Dean (interview) 10 May 2002.
xli “Centenary to Present Music Series.” Shreveport Times. October 2, 1973.
xlii Carroll, Frank M. “The School of Music: A Special Place in the Scheme of Things.” Centenary. September 1973, 7-8.
xliii Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Centenary College of Louisiana, August 18, 1975, 2.
xliv Catalogue…1976-77, 106.
xlv Catalogue…1977-79, 106.
xlvi Professor Ronald E. Dean (interview), 19 July 2002.
xlvii Dr. Gale Odom (interview), 18 July 2002.
xlviii Professor Ronald E. Dean (email), 23 August 2002.
xlix Dr. Will Andress (interview), 1 May 2002.