Academic journal article The American Music Research Center Journal

Musician, Educator, Mentor, Friend: A Personal Reminiscence of George Lynn

Academic journal article The American Music Research Center Journal

Musician, Educator, Mentor, Friend: A Personal Reminiscence of George Lynn

Article excerpt

An acclaimed professional composer, conductor, organist, pianist, accompanist, singer, arranger, editor and publisher, George Lynn was a musical giant whose works and performances have affected untold multitudes. His stature as an educator is equally great, having taught on faculties at a variety of colleges and universities; served as minister of music at many churches; directed scores of workshops, camps, seminars, and festivals across America; and inspired legions of followers to carry on his legacy.

Thanks to his imposing and charismatic presence, he was able to draw forth extraordinary artistry from his performers. And they in turn believed that they had a personal line of communication with him and willingly strove to answer his artistic challenges with their utmost commitment.

Many knew him best in less grand settings, one-on-one, during private lessons, long walks, drives, or while sharing quiet conversations over a meal. He had strong personal friendships and cordial professional relationships throughout his life and forged close associations with people from all ages and walks of life.

Lynn took a personal interest in all of his students, but many were fortunate to become especially close to him. I am personally acquainted with several of these, including bass-baritone and ophthalmologist James Gentry, who first studied with him at the University of Colorado; Eph Ehly, famed conductor and longtime professor at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri- Kansas City; internationally renowned conductor David Agler; and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Jane Shaulis. Agler and Shaulis studied at Westminster Choir College during Lynn's tenure as music director in the 1960s.

I, myself, am yet another, having met Lynn after his retirement from Westminster Choir College. The following account is a personal remembrance of, and tribute to, George Lynn, who, to my great personal and professional fortune, was my mentor and friend.

George Lynn's success as a musician and a pedagogue rested upon a firm foundation formed by a mixture of insatiable curiosity, tremendous imagination, an unfailing work ethic, a generosity of spirit and devotion to his creator. Together they transformed him into a modern equivalent of a Renaissance man -constantly seeking, questioning, exploring, challenging, discovering, renewing, and building upon knowledge and faith.

Lynn graduated from Westminster Choir School (as it was then known) and received his master's degree from Princeton University. Later he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from Harding College. He was a protégé of John Finley Williamson, Carl Weinrich, Roy Harris, and Randall Thompson, among others.

Lynn received an annual ASCAP award for decades. Hundreds of his compositions were published by 16 publishers. He served as an editor of many choral series for a variety of publishers and founded his own publishing company, Golden Music.

He prepared choruses for major performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Denver Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and American Symphony, among others, and collaborated with such conducting legends as Leonard Bernstein, Sir Arthur Bliss, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, William Steinberg, and Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Many aspiring and working musicians and educators were directly affected by Lynn's philosophies and methods, whether during his stints teaching at Westminster Choir College (where he eventually was appointed music director and head of the Voice and Conducting departments), at Denver's Loretto Heights College, the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado, Colorado College, the University of Denver, the University of New Mexico, or Houston's Rice University, among others; or at annual Ghost Ranch seminars, a host of American churches, innumerable workshops, camps, all-state choirs and festivals. Legions have been uplifted by George Lynn's beautiful compositions, arrangements, editions, and performances, while vast numbers of students and audiences continue to benefit from the tutelage and performances of the many musicians, educators and ministers of music who were in turn, taught and inspired by him. …

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