Page 20 - 2012 Lycoming Summer Magazine

We’re neither pure nor wise nor good; we’ll do the best we
know. We’ll build our house, and chop our wood, and make our
garden grow.” – Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”
The shower of applause that rose from the standing room
only crowd following that final chorus was much warmer
than the rain that fell outside the Mary Lindsay Welch Honors
Hall on the late-April evening. Among the concert-goers and
performers were family, friends, colleagues and students—both
past and present – of Dr. Gary Boerckel, professor of music.
All had gathered for the first occurrence of the College’s Last
Lecture Series celebrating the career of one of Lycoming’s most
tenured faculty members.
It was both fitting and ironic that Boerckel should inaugurate
the series. In his 30-plus years at the College, the teacher and
pianist touched the lives of countless students. The program,
however, was neither a lecture nor, does it seem, will it be the
last the College or the community will see of the performer.
Acknowledging those who meant so much to him through
the years, Boerckel presented “Encores,” a concert featuring his
favorite works performed alongside some of the region’s finest
If there’s one thing that I really must do tonight, it’s thank
lots of people who have made my career a very happy one,”
began Boerckel. “Of course, my musical colleagues and former
students who have made music for me all these years and who
still seem happy to do so. The College, which gave me a living
for many years and educated two of my children; the College
that built this fabulous hall and the people who donated to make
this such a wonderful place to make music. And then, of course,
you, who came to these concerts, week after week, noon concert
after noon concert and allowed me to have the life that I wanted
to have, a life making music.”
Those performing with Boerckel included Lycoming music
instructors Leslie Cullen and Tim Breon, and alumna and
instructor Yvonne Mitchell-Sarch ’91. A performance with his
wife, Bernadette (Ulrich) Boerckel ’99, was preceded by a fond
recollection of their meeting:
Years ago, I was with a group of faculty and students
who went to New York to see a couple of Broadway shows,”
began Boerckel. The following day, after the long trip, he was
holding auditions for an upcoming show. “All of a sudden, as
I was playing, a young woman started to sing. And I looked
up because I thought she’d walked off the stage of the show I’d
seen the night before … I cast her in every show I could and I
decided that I just didn’t want to have any more acts without her.”
In a moving finale, Boerckel, joined by a host of former
and current students, colleagues and friends, concluded his
Encores” directing excerpts from the first show he led at
Lycoming, Bernstein’s “Candide.”
Said Lycoming College President James E. Douthat,
In great appreciation for 33 years of service, not simply
to Lycoming College but to thousands of students, to the
community of Williamsport and to many people at many other
venues who have been a part of Gary’s life as he has been part
of our lives, we are not saying goodbye, we’re saying farewell
for a while. But we know we’re going to see [him] many times
Boerckel joined Lycoming’s faculty in 1979 and long served
as the chair of the music department. A native Philadelphian, he
studied at the Settlement Music School and Temple University
before earning undergraduate degrees in piano performance
and European history from the Oberlin College Conservatory
of Music. While a doctoral student at the University of Iowa,
he served as pianist for the university’s Center for New Music.
He has been a guest soloist with the Jupiter Symphony in New
York City, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and
the Williamsport, Susquehanna Valley, Ohio University and
Mansfield University symphony orchestras. Numerous solo
recitals, including programs devoted to ragtime and early
jazz, have taken him to artist series, colleges and universities
throughout the country.
Boerckel was the founding director of the Lycoming College
Artist Series from 1981-87 and served as the director of the
Lycoming Scholar Program from 1989-2002. The College’s
Concert at Noon series was inaugurated by Boerckel in 1980.
He is the host of WVIA’s weekly radio program, “Music to
My Ears” and gives pre-concert lectures for the Williamsport
Symphony Orchestra and The Susquehanna Valley Chorale.
Dr. Gary Boerckel
Boerckel’s years of service are recognized by
President James E. Douthat.
Boerckel and wife, Bernadette (Ulrich) ’99