Campaign continues for Harter room in Clayton Center

Oct. 6, 2010
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications

Several choir alumni have given generously to the campaign to name the choral room of the new Clayton Center for the Arts for the late Dr. Harry Harter, but the College needs many more donors to meet the goal.

“We are so pleased with the response we have so far, however, we still have a long way to go,” said Gail Hafner ’60 on behalf of the Choral Note Society, a group of local musicians and music supporters that formed last year to name the room.

According to Holly Jackson-Sullivan, vice president for advancement and community relations at Maryville College, approximately $52,000 in gifts and pledges has been raised toward the $250,000 goal.

Once fundraising is completed, the room will be decorated with Harter memorabilia and officially dedicated in his memory.

A tour of the choral room is included on the Oct. 23 tour of the entire Clayton Center, planned in conjunction with the College’s Homecoming Weekend festivities. Information and pledge forms will be available to people at that time, Jackson-Sullivan said, adding that pledge forms can also be downloaded from the College’s web site (Search on “capital projects.”)

Harter was legendary choir director

Hired to teach and direct the Maryville College Concert Choir in 1947, Harter, a California native, immediately began building a tradition of excellence in music and the fine arts at the College.

At the College, he advanced from assistant professor to associate professor in 1957, to professor in 1961, and was named chairman of the division of fine arts in 1964, which was the title he held until his retirement in 1981.

Under his leadership, the Concert Choir was renowned for its excellence. The choir tours across the country served to share the College’s story and music with thousands of people. One memorable concert was in honor of the College’s Sesquicentennial and took place at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The Choir was the featured chorus of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for eight seasons and premiered numerous works by Harter and other composers.

Harter was well known in the community for his service in area churches and for conducting Handel’s “Messiah” each Christmas season and for directing Christmas Vespers and Easter Sunrise services on campus. In his later years, he performed with the Appalachian Ballet Company in performances of “The Nutcracker.”

Among his well-known compositions was “Requiem for a Fallen Nineveh,”which was published in 1953. His many choral arrangements of Scottish hymn tunes included “The Twenty-Third Psalm” to the tune Crimond. Each choir concert concluded with the singing of this work with the Lutkin “Benediction.” These are still performed today by alumni choirs and the Concert Choir.

For his accomplishments and contributions to the College, he was awarded the Maryville College Medallion – the College’s highest honor – in 1998. Following his death on August 8, 2004, he was buried in the Maryville College Cemetery.

Alumnus remembers Harter’s influence

Dr. Lincoln Shimomura ’51 is one of several choir alumni who have given generously to make the Harter Choral Rehearsal Room a reality.

He said Harter’s name “has to be” remembered in the Clayton Center.

Shimomura, who now lives in Bridgewater, N.J., sang bass and baritone in the Concert Choir from 1947 until 1951.

“Harry Harter, the Vesper Choir and Sunday evening Vesper Services were among the most important influences during my time at Maryville,” Shimomura said. “The good fellowship we experienced in learning and singing sacred choral music with some exceptional people of faith – with great voices and Harry Harter leading the way – was the ultimate experience of my college life.”

Following graduation from Maryville, Shimomura went on to medical school and a career in anesthesiology. He said participating in the choir was “added inspiration needed in all the times in chemistry labs and premed studies.”

He encouraged other choir alumni to join the campaign.

“The Concert Choir continues on with the spirit and work begun by Dr. Harter so many years ago,” he pointed out. “If there is to be a Harter Choral Rehearsal Room in the Clayton Center, we choir alumni need to be there to support it.”

For more information on the campaign for the Dr. Harry Harter Choral Rehearsal Room, contact Jackson-Sullivan at 865.273.8884 or

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.