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Berea College to Rename Carillon after John Courter

As part of Berea College’s homecoming celebration, an event to rename the Berea College carillon after John Courter, is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, November 13. Courter, who died this past June, was music professor, organist and carillonneur at Berea College and known nationally and internationally within the organ and carillon communities. The event will take place on the college quadrangle in front of the Draper building. The ceremony will include brief remarks by various college officials and colleagues from the music department, the unveiling of a large bronze plaque that later will be installed in Draper Hall which houses the Carillon, and carillon music performed by former students of Mr. Courter and members of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA), including Dave Johnson and Dennis Curry, President and Vice President of GCNA respectively. Musical selections will include pieces composed and arranged by John Courter, or that have other significant connections to him. The ceremony and carillon concert is free and open to the public.

John Courter

John Courter joined the Berea College faculty in 1971 as a teacher and organist. During his 39 years at Berea, he contributed to the musical life of the campus and larger community in numerous ways. After retiring from teaching in 2007, Courter continued to serve as college organist and was also the college carillonneur. In addition, he was the organist at Union Church and had been a long-time contributor to the music of St. Clare Catholic Church, both in Berea. Mr. Courter was the driving force behind Berea’s 56-bell carillon, the largest in the state of Kentucky, and had been the college carillonneur since 2000 when the instrument was installed.

In 1993, Mr. Courter was awarded the prestigious Berkeley Medal for Distinguished Service to the Carillon as a performer and composer. He was a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, the highest certificate of achievement, and a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. Recently, the board of directors and membership of that organization bestowed on him the unprecedented title of permanent Honorary Member of the Guild.

In 1995, Courter received Berea College’s esteemed Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching, and in 2006 received the Elizabeth Perry Miles Award for Community Service for his numerous contributions to the campus and community as a musician and for volunteer service with Madison County’s public radio station.

Mr. Courter was one of the leading contemporary composers for the carillon and won several international prizes for his original compositions. His works have been published in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States as well as performed on carillons throughout the world. He was commissioned by the Palace of Government in Barcelona, the cities of Utrecht, Kampen and Almelo (The Netherlands), the Arts Council of Ireland, the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University to compose original works. “In Memoriam – Sept. 11, 2001,” a 3 ˝ minute piece he composed in 2002 to honor victims of that event, has been played around the world. One of his compositions is also included in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and Grove online.

In 2005, Mr. Courter established the Summer Carillon Concert Series at Berea College which continues to bring international performers of the instrument to Berea’s campus. In his will, Mr. Courter had made arrangements for the ongoing maintenance of Berea’s carillon.


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