After 37 years of teaching and
conducting, Dr. Fred Thayer Jr. will
conduct his final concert at 8 p.m. May 4
in Clarke Chapel.
Thayer joined the music faculty in
1976 and has led the choir on 35 spring
break tours and 10 overseas trips.
“The students have been my life,” he
said. “I just love working with this age
group … it’s a very special age and the
students are bright, thoughtful, willing to
work and they care.”
Thayer said it is gratifying to work with
so many students who want to be the best
that they can be and he enjoys receiving
updates from former students who have
found adult groups that allow them to
continue singing and performing.
The May 4 graduation concert will
be comprised of the Lycoming College
Tour Choir performing on the first half
of the program and the larger Lycoming
College Choir, of which the Tour Choir
and Chamber Choir are a part, singing the
second half of the program, culminating
with alumni being invited to join the choir
for three final pieces, “Beautiful Savior,”
“Ride on, King Jesus” and the Lutkin
Benediction, “May the Lord Bless You and
Keep You.”
Although the final concert will be
emotional, Thayer said it also will be
a festive time with family, alumni and
friends to help celebrate.
An avid composer, Thayer has earned
numerous ASCAP PLUS Awards and
Meet the Composer Grants. His
compositions include an opera, three
works for orchestra, two works for
band and more than 75 choral works. In
celebration of the College’s bicentennial,
he was commissioned to compose “A
Prayer for Lycoming.”
After retirement, Thayer and his wife
will travel this summer to Colombia. “I
haven’t been back there since I was in the
Peace Corps,” he said. “Pasto is where I
worked for two years and began teaching
music.”
Thayer went to South America
after graduating from Syracuse
University with a bachelor’s degree
in sociology. “Even though I didn’t
major in music, I had performed in
college. Following four months of
music training in the states, including
student teaching, I
went to Colombia,
and taught elementary
music.”
When Thayer
returned to the United
States, he decided
to study music and
teach. “I taught four
years of high school
choral music in
Elmira,” he said. “I
liked it but it was time
to go to grad school.”
After graduating
from Cornell
University with a
doctorate, he started
working at Lycoming
– and he has not been
disappointed.
“I never thought
I’d stay this long,” he
said. “But I have been
associated with many
wonderful people at
Lycoming College. The alumni have been
incredibly supportive, too.”
During his world travels with the Tour
Choir, he became friends with Jan Szyrocki,
conductor of a Polish touring choir that
performed at the College. This association
led to Szyrocki spending two residencies at
the College. He also helped Thayer with the
logistics of three European tours.
“We learned so much from him,” Thayer
said. “He was a giant in the field and we
were very honored to have this bond.”
The Tour Choir trip to Argentina in
2010 also was a highlight that Thayer said
would not have been possible without the
tremendous support of alumni and others.
“I have been very blessed with the
sabbaticals I’ve taken, too,” he said, citing
his time in Spain, Costa Rica and Bolivia as
a “huge gift.”
“To be able to do all of these things
at Lycoming College,” he said, “are real
highlights.”
By Dana Borick Brigandi
Dr. Fred
THAYER JR.
Professor of music and director of choral activities
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