Music at La Sierra University

An historical Overview

Dan Shultz


La Sierra University, the last Seventh-day Adventist liberal arts college and university to be established in the United States, from its earliest years has been recognized for its fine music program. It began as La Sierra Academy in 1922. Five years later, it became Southern California Junior College, and, a dozen years later, in 1939, La Sierra College. In 1967, the school became part of Loma Linda University, a relationship that ended in 1991, when it was named La Sierra University.


From its beginnings in 1922, the founders of La Sierra Academy had more in mind than just establishing another high school in Southern California. The location and amount of land presumed a future that included expansion and creation of an Adventist school of higher education for the region.

Although they did not initially have General Conference approval to establish a college, the early success of the school and its aggressive listing of classes beyond a 4-year high school curriculum in all areas, including music, led to junior college standing within its first five years.1

Grace Nelson, a graduate in piano from Pacific Union College, was hired to organize a music program when the school opened in the fall of 1922. Within two years she was teaching music theory and music history classes as well as more than 40 keyboard students, using two used pianos and a reed pump organ.

When the second year started, Pearl Cooper, a singer who during the previous year of the school had been teaching art and sewing, assisted, teaching voice and a conducting class, directing three choral groups, and working with a male quartet.

Ida M. Tratt, a resident of nearby Riverside who had studied violin in Europe and taught for several years, was hired when the academy began its third year. By year's end she was presenting recitals that included small ensembles and solos. By the end of her second year, Tratt's violin studio included 25 students, using what she called the "Belgian Style of Playing."

She had started an "orchestra" at the beginning of that year that included violins, saxophones, clarinets, cornets, a "base horn," drum, and chimes. While it probably sounded more like a band than an orchestra, it was the school's first instrumental ensemble and was well received.2

Pianist Vesta Baldwin joined the music program in 1925. She introduced herself with a "lively little piece" at a program on the first night of school. It captured the students' imagination and led to an immediate enrollment of 53 in piano - and 23 in four music classes!

At the annual recital given in March that year the highlight of the evening was a 12-hand number played on two pianos by six young women. Thursday chapels were devoted to music appreciation when students listened "to everything from reveries to the Dance of the Demons."3

A waiting list of students for piano study developed and when the next year started, Frances Brown was hired to assist. Also, Estelle Swartsfager was hired to direct the choir and continue Tratt's work in strings. By the 1926-27 school year, Baldwin had outlined a conservatory program offering college level music classes, in anticipation of the school's gaining junior college status.

When that occurred in 1927 and the school was renamed Southern California Junior College, she had a program in place to prepare students to teach music in the church's grade schools and academies. Few students, however, chose to complete it.4

Ruth Havstad was director of the vocal/choral program when SCJC began its first year. Havstad, a soprano and experienced conductor and teacher, had good musical instincts. An attractive young woman with a warm and open personality, she, like Baldwin, was popular with the students.

She developed a choral program that included a chorus, girls' and boys' glee clubs, and, eventually, a select a cappella choir of 28 known as the Choral Society. Over the next five years, her groups and their extensive touring established a reputation of musical excellence for the college. One of Havstad's hallmarks was the presenting of a concert each year with a theme that included choral music, solos, and readings.5

A year after Havstad began her work, William Beisel, a violinist, was hired to teach strings and develop an orchestra and band. Beisel was a versatile musician who could teach a number of instruments. While development of a band lagged, during his seven-year tenure he established an orchestra that performed often on campus.6

Grace Nelson, who had married, returned, to teach piano, along with Mrs. Roy Webb. A year later, both were succeeded by Florence Voth.

From the opening of SCJC there was interest in validating its college status through accreditation, a step being considered by several Adventist colleges. Some church members and leaders viewed this goal with alarm, concerned about the effect contact with the world would have on their schools.

However, when the church's medical school at Loma Linda made graduation from an accredited school a requirement for entrance, the need to comply became imperative. Both PUC and SCJC obtained accreditation in 1933, the first Adventist schools to do so.7

Accreditation was only one of a number of changes at SCJC during the 1930s. As the decade unfolded, the number of high school students decreased sharply while college students increased to over 400. Two-year programs were expanded to three years, academic departments were created and the school was renamed La Sierra College in 1939.8

A building boom on campus resulted in a number of new buildings, one of which was an auditorium and music hall, funded, in part, by a donation from Willet J. Hole wealthy financier who years earlier, had owned the land on which the school stood. When Hole died just prior to the building's opening in January 1937, it was named Hole Memorial Auditorium.

The students immediately launched a one-month campaign to raise $3,762.42 for five new grand pianos. Two years later, they helped raise funds to install an organ in HMA that had been donated by Walt Disney.9

The three-manual 19-rank Estey theater organ had been used in the Disney studios, most notably to accompany Micky Mouse cartoons. Noted musician Albert Hay Malotte, studio organist for Disney and composer of the popular and often sung The Lord's Prayer, performed a celebration concert after it was installed.10

Until the building of HMA, lessons and practice happened in rooms scattered around campus, and rehearsals were held in a noisy assembly room with poor acoustics. The new music facility, with its three studios, ten practice rooms, 758-seat auditorium, and classrooms11 seemed like a dream for teachers and students who, in spite of poor facilities, had developed a successful and well-regarded music program.

During this decade of sweeping changes and growth for the school, Beisel continued his work with the instrumental groups, staying for most of the decade. Havstad left in 1932 to accept a position at Walla Walla College.

Her successor, Harlyn Abel, expanded the choral program she had developed. He immediately organized an oratorio chorus and presented the school's first Messiah performance in December 1932. He increased the a cappella choir to 40 and then toured widely and performed often on regional radio broadcasts.

Abel had graduated from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago in 1931 and then had taught briefly at what is now Portland Adventist Academy in Oregon, before coming to SCJC. During his 15 years at the college he aggressively promoted his choirs and the vocal program. Abel adopted Westminster Choir College vocal concepts in singing and, in 1939, announced the a cappella choir as an "affiliated Westminster Choir."12 He was a key player and a stabilizing force in music as the school made its transition to a four-year college.13

Ellsworth Whitney, a pianist who had taught for eight years in nearby academies and done graduate study at Redlands University, was hired in 1936. When he left three years later to pursue studies in medicine, Edna Farnsworth succeeded him.

Farnsworth enjoyed a widespread reputation as a keyboard performer and teacher. She had led the department at Atlantic Union College from 1904 to1937 and then taken a leave to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1938. Most recently, she had been studying pipe organ at the University of Redlands where she subsequently completed a master's degree at age 56, while teaching at LSC. By the time Farnsworth retired in 1962, at age 77, she had been teaching for 55 years.14

Otto Racker, a violinist, was hired to direct the orchestra and band in 1938. He had taught most recently at Newbold College in England. A disciplinarian and a perfectionist, Racker led both groups to high levels of achievement in his seven years at the college and set the stage for ongoing programs in both ensembles. His flamboyant conducting style drew audiences to his concerts to see him perform as well as hear his groups.15

The music and art departments were combined in 1942 to create a Department of Fine Arts chaired by Farnsworth. The merger had little effect on music since she, Abel, and Racker were teaching overloads that prevented any meaningful interaction with their colleagues in art.

Although LSC was now offering four-year programs, they were not fully accredited. In 1943, with a change in leadership of the college, achieving accreditation for college programs became paramount and a justification for upgrading the faculty and physical plant.16

Accordingly, Harold Hannum, music chair at Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University), was asked to chair the fine arts area in 1944. His appointment and leadership, coming just as the college achieved accreditation, would lead to unprecedented accomplishment in music during the next two decades.

Genteel and thoughtful, Hannum was respected for his quiet strength and high standards. He carefully chose experienced musicians who could also teach, and then created an atmosphere in which they could do their best work.

He had started his career at Washington Missionary College (now Columbia Union College) in the 1920s, having previously studied at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music near Cleveland, Ohio, his birthplace. While at WMC, Hannum completed a B. Mus. at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and then, in 1934, accepted an invitation to teach at EMC and chair its music program. In his ten years there, he completed an M.Mus. degree at Northwestern University and became an Associate in the American Guild of Organists.17

Hannum was not impressed with the Estey organ in HMA and immediately set about to change its theatrical sound. Although he was eventually able to create a more cohesive and traditional pipe organ sound, he was never able to totally rid the instrument of its "Disney mice."

The department flourished under Hannum's leadership. He immediately urged Abel and Farnsworth to lighten their loads and let their assistants, Frances Brown, Dorothy Johnson, and Ella Knokey-Frost do more. Sophie Andross, Ellen Short, Elizabeth Saunders, and Geraldine Goddard were added to assist in piano as the decade continued. Ralph Pierce, a noted pianist, was hired as a visiting professor to teach advanced students.

Leadership of the band and orchestra also changed. Clarence Trubey, a former academy principal who had developed successful band programs in his schools, was invited in 1946 to direct the band and lighten Racker's load. When Racker left the following year, Alfred Walters was hired to direct the orchestra. A year later, in 1948, he also became band director when Trubey left to teach at WWC.

Walters, an accomplished violinist, would spend the rest of his life and career at LSC. Though he was only 32 when he arrived on campus, he had already served for five years as head of the music program at AUC and conductor of its orchestra and band. While there he had earned an M.Mus. at Boston University in 1946.

Walter's leadership of the band was an interim assignment that lasted for four highly successful years. During his tenure at LSC he attained legendary status as a superb violinist and orchestra conductor and as an understanding, compassionate person. He performed often in the region, giving countless concerts in the United States, Canada and Europe.

John T. Hamilton also joined the faculty in 1947, the year Walters was hired. Hannum chose these men because they had graduate degrees in music and had been successful at the college level. He wanted instrumental ensembles that were truly college caliber18 and wished to continue the choral tradition that had been started by Havstad and continued by Abel.

Hamilton was an ideal choice. Although he had completed a history degree at WMC in 1937, encouraged by Oliver Beltz, an Adventist church musician who was teaching at Northwestern University, he had enrolled there and completed a music degree in 1941. In the next five years he developed an outstanding program at WWC while completing an M.Mus. at NWU during the summers. After a year at EMC, he accepted Hannum's invitation to return to the West Coast.19

An enthusiastic and creative man, Hamilton established immediate rapport with the choral groups. At the beginning of his second year, he formed the La Sierra Collegians, a select group of six women and twelve men, a balance commonly used in radio vocal ensembles at that time. The resulting predominately male sound, with women's voices providing obbligato and ornamentation, was unique, and eventually copied by directors at three other Adventist colleges and four other universities and colleges nationwide.

In their first two years the Collegians gave over 100 concerts to great acclaim. At the beginning of their third year, a small string ensemble with winds and percussion was added and the combination, called the La Sierrans, was conducted jointly by Hamilton and Walters.

This group's small size, judicious mix of light and serious music, and extensive touring made it a popular and effective public relations ensemble for the college. Students sought to be members and it became an important factor, along with other ensembles, in the success of the department for the next 20 years.20

By the end of the 1940s, Hannum had not only brought to the campus two outstanding ensemble directors, he had presided over other changes as well. In the post-World War II years, enrollment in the school mushroomed with the return of servicemen.

This increase in students, coupled with the success of the newly hired teachers and flourishing music ensembles, created a need for more space. Accordingly, an addition that included two new studios and classrooms, a large rehearsal room, and storage for robes and instruments was built on the back of HMA.21

Esther Kuhnau joined the department as a music education specialist in 1949, to teach and oversee a newly established music education degree. The year before, Hannum, in response to students who wanted to teach music, had created two music education classes which, when added to the BA degree in music, prepared students to enter the profession.

When Hannum came to the campus, he had also introduced another program that, along with his organ playing in worship and chapel, became an important aspect of campus life.

While at EMC, he had developed a sacred music vespers featuring primarily the organ and readings by his wife, Ethel. It became at LSC, as it had at EMC, an uplifting and unforgettable experience for many on campus.

The completion of a 2,000-seat college church in 1947 and the eventual installation of a pipe organ in its sanctuary, created the perfect setting for his church service playing and vesper programs.

In the fall of 1950, H. Allen Craw was hired to teach piano and theory, the first of several faculty to be added that decade. He helped ease Hannum's load in keyboard and theory and stabilized an area of performance that had been of uneven quality because of constant changes in teachers.

Craw had completed a B.A in music at EMC in 1946, and an M.Mus. at North Texas State University while teaching at Southwestern Junior College from 1946 to 1950. During his three decades at LSC he completed a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Southern California, taught music history and theory, and also helped chair the department in the 1970s.22

By 1952, Walters' string program, teaching responsibilities and performing had increased to the point that he could no longer direct the band and teach all the methods classes in the education degree. Robert Warner, a trumpet player with a master's degree from Northwestern University and academy teaching experience, was hired to lead the band and teach the methods classes.

Five years later, he stepped aside as conductor of the college band and became band director at nearby La Sierra Academy. He continued to assist at the college by giving lessons and helping in the music education program. His successor as college band director, Eugene Nash, an LSC graduate, conducted the ensemble for the next 12 years, until 1969.

Frances L. Brown, who had taught earlier in the program, returned to assist with voice lessons on a "temporary" basis after having taught at Helderberg College in South Africa for six years. She would teach voice and music education classes at LSC for the next 19 years, retiring in 1972.23

Perry Beach was the last to be hired in the 1950s, the first music teacher at LSC with a doctorate. He had earned both of his graduate degrees in theory and composition at the Eastman School of Music.

A precocious child, Beach had started composing at 11. At age 22 he began his teaching career at Union College and, following service in World War II, continued by teaching at EMC.

In 1951, he moved his family to Rochester, New York, entered Eastman and, two years later, left with a doctorate. Four years later, he arrived at LSC where his talents in teaching and composing would inspire numerous students.

During the next 24 years he became one of the college's most distinguished professors, a composer of numerous works, and a recipient of two faculty awards. He also chaired the department, along with Craw, during the 1970s.24

By the end of the 1950's, music was one of the best known and respected departments on campus. Starting with a recording by the Collegians in the late 1940s, a number of records featuring department ensembles and faculty had been released through Cathedral Records. These, along with numerous tours and high profile roles in music at several General Conference sessions, had created a reputation for LSC as a leader in music in Adventist circles.

Its teachers were highly respected. In 1956, the yearbook was dedicated to Edna Farnsworth, for her "many years of unselfish service." The following year, Alfred Walters, a greatly beloved teacher, received the honor, praised as a "Christian gentleman, rare artist, and true friend . . . one who has rare understanding, keen wit, and a kind heart." Finally, in 1961, Hannum was honored, hailed as a "sage music magnate . . . who both perceives and interprets beauty."

Two teachers joined the department in the opening years of the next decade. Moses Chalmers was hired in 1960 to assist in the choral program since Hamilton was increasingly involved in college public relations. When Hamilton left the department two years later to work full time in that area, Joann Robbins joined to assist Chalmers. Both upheld and built on the choral legacy they had inherited, Chalmers until 1970, and Robbins until the mid-1980s.

The 1960s were a time of change and the beginning of a major transition as others besides Hamilton who had been key players in the department retired, reduced their roles, or left.

Anita Norskov Olsen joined the faculty in 1968 to teach piano. She established a large studio and developed a number of outstanding pianists in her two decades at LSU. Bjorn Keyn assumed leadership of the orchestra in 1969.

From the beginning, the school's faculty and leadership, including those in music, were known for their innovation, vision, and willingness to take risks. In 1967, La Sierra merged with Loma Linda University. Coming after several years of growth in its academic programs, and construction and renovation in the physical plant, it seemed the logical next step to some, particularly since LLU was interested in having an undergraduate program. The result was the largest educational entity in Adventism.

La Sierra College now became Loma Linda University, La Sierra Campus. From the beginning, the change in identity was troubling to some, particularly the alumni. Even though the merger would eventually unravel, a number of initiatives and changes in the music program and faculty during this time would strengthen the school's reputation for musical innovation and excellence.

Donald Jon Vaughn joined Hannum to assist with organ duties the year of the merger. A 1960 graduate of LSC, he had completed an M.Mus. at the University of Redlands and taught at Columbia Union College.

He shared in Hannum's longtime wish to replace the organ in Hole Memorial Auditorium and, in consultation with Hannum and Lawrence Phelps at Casavant Freres, Ltd., organ builders in Canada, led out in the installation of a three-manual, 62-rank organ in HMA in 1970.25 A year later, he oversaw installation of another Casavant organ in the Loma Linda University Church.

In subsequent years, Vaughn, assisted by many students, totally rebuilt a small Aeolian organ that had been placed in the LSC church in 1950, transforming it into a larger, more versatile instrument built around a new console. By the end of 1990s he had completed a solid-state four-manual, 140 rank pipe organ for the sanctuary. It was named for him at the time of his retirement in 1998.26

In 1971, in a bold move, LLU hosted the first Herbert Blomstedt Conducting Institute on the La Sierra Campus. The program, which was initiated by summer session dean, Vernon Koenig, and the music department, continued until 1984. It quickly became an acclaimed ongoing experience that attracted participants from around the world.

Under the guidance of Blomstedt, internationally noted conductor, and eventually an assistant, Jon Robertson, conductors worked with a live orchestra for ten days. Insightful critiques, coupled with a video record of the experience, provided invaluable input for students seeking to improve their conducting. The workshop ended with a public concert featuring selected students conducting the orchestra.27

A similar experience for singers and choral conductors led by Sir David Willcocks, director of the Royal School of Music in London, started in 1974. Willcocks, after repeated invitations from Hamilton, an acquaintance, had finally agreed to come and do the first workshop. He enjoyed the experience and returned for ten more summers.28

In the fall of 1978, undergraduate enrollment at La Sierra crested at nearly 2,600, the largest enrollment on any Adventist campus. Seven full-time and eight part-time music faculty were teaching in a program that offered majors in music education, performance, or church music.

Four of the full-time faculty, Beach, Craw, Robbins, and Don Thurber, who had recently been hired to assist in the vocal/choral area, had doctorates. Another recent addition, Robert Uthe, was directing the band.

Claire Hodgkins, an adjunct faculty member, led the string program and the orchestra. She had also developed a successful ongoing summer string workshop that coincided with the Blomstedt conducting workshop.

A number of persons had directed the orchestra following the untimely death of Alfred Walters from cancer in 1972. Bjorn Keyn, who also assisted with the choirs, and Donald Duncan, who worked with the band, briefly led the group.

One orchestra concert, Concerto Night, which started in 1958, has continued without break to the present, in spite of the uneven fortunes of the orchestra over the years. It continues to be a highlight of the year.

By 1984, only four full-time music faculty remained. Vaughn and Thurber, who had become chair in 1980, had been joined a year earlier by Rene Ramos, pianist and musicologist, and, as that school-year started, by William Chunestudy, who was hired to assist in the band and choral areas. Chunestudy assumed direction of the band, an organization which had most recently been briefly directed by Joanne Klaasen Andersson and Gregory (Skip) Lorenz.

Beginning in that same year, the LLU/LSC merger began to crumble, weakened by increasingly apparent signs of unhappiness over the relationship on the part of alumni and a group on the La Sierra campus. Some faculty at La Sierra increasingly felt they had little to say about what was happening in the university at large. And there were other issues, including the make-up and power of the board of trustees, wage differences between the campuses, and accreditation issues.

In 1986, LLU proposed that the La Sierra campus be physically moved to Loma Linda and the land be sold to finance the consolidation. Although the board approved the change twice and there was some support at La Sierra for the move, increasing controversy led LLU to end the relationship in 1990 and return to two separate campuses.

After an interim year as Loma Linda University Riverside, the school assumed its present identity of La Sierra University, a name that reconnected it to its pre-LLU days.29

LSU, now free to develop a new identity, faced enrollment and financial challenges. Before the break with LLU, there had been a sharp decline in students caused, in part, by the turmoil over the LLU/LSC arrangement, but more by a drop nationwide in college and university enrollments during the 1980s.

After the break, enrollment dropped precipitously to a little over 1,100 as students went elsewhere, uncertain about the school's ability to survive. This exodus further affected finances and led to reductions in faculty and programs.

While the school sought to resolve these challenges, all aspects of its operation were examined, from who sat on the board to what distinctive characteristics and offerings should be emphasized and promoted as signature programs. Since music had always been important at the college and was even now flourishing, in spite of the troubled situation on campus, it was chosen as an area for promotion and development.

Jeff Kaatz, a former LLU music student and recent adjunct faculty teacher in cello had been hired in 1988, two years before the separation, to teach and serve as chair. He quickly moved to hire high profile Adventist musicians who could attract serious students in music and increase the visibility of music ensembles.

The first addition was the appointment of Lyndon Johnston Taylor , an acclaimed Adventist violinist, in 1989, to be director of string studies and the orchestra following completion of a doctoral degree at the Juilliard School of Music. Though Taylor finished his degree in 1990, he was not able to come to the university until 1992, because of professional activities that, by then, included playing in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.30

In 1990, at the time of the break with LLU, Kaatz added Kimo Smith, an accomplished and well-known keyboard performer in Southern California, to be Director of Keyboard Studies. Barbara Favorito, who had just completed a DMA in conducting at the University of Miami and was widely known for her work with band, was hired to be Director of Wind and Percussion Studies.

The 1990s were productive years for music as Kaatz, the three new teachers, along with Vaughn, Thurber, Ramos, and Chunestudy, worked together to create a program that with its emphasis on music performance attracted talented and highly motivated students. The department also created a number of music scholarship endowments that became ongoing sources of revenue for scholarships. Their yield, paired with $200,000 annually in scholarship monies from the university, also helped attract music students.

This decade was not only a period of accomplishment and significant growth for the program, but also a time of professional achievement for its faculty.

Thurber had chaired the department for eight years, from1980 until 1988, while continuing to serve as Director of Choral Studies. He now taught music education classes and continued to direct several popular choral ensembles that performed often and toured widely.

Ramos, who would complete a Ph.D. in musicology at Indiana University in 1998, proved to be a demanding, yet popular teacher who enjoyed good rapport with students and his colleagues. He received the LSU Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001.

Chunestudy, who had changed his focus from band to the vocal/choral area, had started a vocal octet in 1988 that, with its polished and creative arrangements of a wide variety of music, became immensely popular in the 1990s. He completed a doctorate in choral conducting at the Claremont Graduate School during this decade. Chunestudy left the department in 1998 to assist in public relations and, in 2003, was appointed Director of Student Financial Services at LSU.

Favorito's work in wind and percussion instruments and in conducting the LSU Wind Ensemble was widely praised. In 1991 she hosted the nationally acclaimed Claude T. Gordon International Brass Camp on the LSU campus. He enjoyed that experience and subsequently gave the school his prized collection of 22 rare trumpets.31

In 2004, the LSU Wind Ensemble was invited to play at a national band directors convention where it received an instantaneous standing ovation. Additionally, in 1993, an interview Favorito had done with nationally noted musician Arnold Gabriel, published in The Instrumentalist, national journal for band directors, won Best Interview of the Year award from the Educational Press Association of America, the first time a music interview had been so honored.32

Taylor set a high standard in the string area and attracted several gifted students. In 1997, he successfully auditioned for principal chair of the second violin section in the LAPO, a position he still holds. One of the perks associated with the chair is use of one of the orchestra's three Stradivarius violins.

With these added responsibilities, his role in the program was reduced. He continues today as a member of the Taylor String Quartet, a professional-level ensemble started years earlier by his parents and affiliated with the department since 1992.

Jason Uyeyama, a violinist and member of the quartet, became Director of String Studies in 2002. A student of Itzhak Perlman and graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, he has also studied with the Guarneri and Juilliard String Quartets. Uyeyama has served as concertmaster of the Aspen Music Festival orchestra and soloed with numerous orchestras.

The orchestra through the 1990's to the present was led by several persons, including Jon Robertson, Taylor, Thurber, Favorito, and a number of conductors affiliated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Beginning this year, it is being led by John Carter, a graduate from LSU and a student of Robertson.

One of Kaatz's goals was to gain accreditation for the music department with the National Association of Schools of Music, a distinction claimed by only half of the music programs in America and by six Adventist colleges and universities. In preparation for this, he reviewed and revised the curriculum and upgraded the music library. The latter was accomplished largely through funding provided by E. Jane Brown, a pioneering Adventist physician, who wanted to honor her sister, Frances L. Brown, music teacher at the college for many years.

In the summer of 1996, after a comprehensive self-study and an on-site visit by NASM, the music department achieved accreditation. It was a proud moment for Kaatz and his faculty.

As the end of the decade approached, Kaatz's spirited leadership of the department for two four-year terms, and effectiveness when given other campus assignments, had been noticed by administration. Beginning in 1996, at the start of a third term as chair, he also became director of University Studies and Assistant Vice-President for Academic Administration.

Three years later, he stepped aside as music chair to devote more time to this new assignment. Though he became vice-president for Advancement and University Relations in 2001, he is still active as a cellist and continues to perform in the Taylor String Quartet.

When Vaughn retired in 1998, after serving for 33 years, the longest full-time tenure in music to that time, he left an enduring legacy in organs. In addition to his work in the initial installation of the organs in HMA in 1970 and the LLU Church in 1971, he had completely redone the LSU church organ, a project that extended over many years. Three years before he retired, he supervised the renovation of the HMA organ and the upgrading of its console, including the addition of MIDI technology.33

Elvin Rodriguez, an accomplished pianist was hired the year Vaughn retired. Under his leadership, piano instruction has flourished, with an increase in piano majors. A music theorist with a doctorate in music education and a background in computer-assisted theory instruction, he has developed and oversees a recently accredited Music Technology degree.

The vocal/choral area has been in transition since the late 1990's. J. Craig Johnson was hired to teach voice in 1999. A DMA graduate of USC, he proved to be an exceptional teacher and, before his departure at the end of this past school year, had developed a large studio and increased the number of voice majors. Raejin Lee, an M.Mus. graduate from Indiana University and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University, is his successor.

In 2000, Thurber left the choral area to become Director of Music Education and teach conducting classes. Chunestudy and Maurita Phillips Thornburgh each conducted the choral groups for one year.

In 2002, E. Earl Richards II was hired as Director of Choral Studies. A doctoral candidate at UCLA, he studied with Donald Neuen, noted choir director. In 2004, he and the LSU Chamber Singers were invited to travel to Carnegie Hall where they joined with choirs from five other schools in a presentation of the Messiah, in honor of Neuen's 50-year conducting career.

Barbara Favorito succeeded Kaatz as chair in 1999. She upheld a high standard in her four years in that position. During her and Kaatz's leadership, the number of majors had stabilized at about 35 to 40 during the mid-1990's and then dramatically increased to over 80 as the present decade started.

Her work in music, coupled with her leadership on campus as chair of the Rank and Tenure committee for ten years and Director of University Studies since 2004, led to an appointment as Associate Provost for General Studies and Academic Support in 2005.

Martin Glicklith, an adjunct faculty member, oversaw the wind and percussion studies program and conducted the wind ensemble on an interim basis for a year before Kenneth Narducci, legendary band director at Pacific Union College, became director of the ensemble and instrumental program in the fall of 2006.

Kimo Smith became chair in 2003. An active performer, he is organist at the LLU church and minister of music at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood. He completed an undergraduate and a master's degree at USC, honored in each instance with the organ department's Outstanding Achievement Award. He completed a D.M.A. at UCLA in 1998.

Smith, who oversees eight full-time and 17 adjunct music faculty, believes, like his predecessors in leadership, that the music program at LSU today provides an exceptional opportunity for talented students. It, along with a progressive overall university program, provides a superb education, that prepares music students for entry into the profession and the challenges of a new century.

Even in its early years, when the college's size and remote location limited musical options, it was able to provide an exceptional program. Today, by comparison, the music department has unlimited resources with specialists in performance, excellent classes and ensembles, and easy access to world-class music events. Now, more than ever, LSU is in a position to continue the school's tradition in musical excellence.




1 James I. Robison, The founding of Southern California Junior College, 1948 SCJC yearbook, El Serrano, 48-59; Keld J. Reynolds, "La Sierra College in Adolesence," Adventist Heritage, Winter 1979.

2 The information on La Sierra's early music program and its first music teachers is from a three-year retrospective about music and listings for its program as found in the La Sierra Academy and Normal School Annual and Calendar for 1925-26, 26, 51, 53, 56; "A History of Music Activities during the Year 1925-26," 1926 La Sierra Academy yearbook, El Serrano, 43,45; and, to a lesser extent, A History of Music Education in Seventh-day Adventist Western Colleges, a dissertation written by Melvin S. Hill for a DMA in music education at the University of Southern California, 1959, 188-193.

3 The information and quotes in the preceding two paragraphs are from an article by Irma Abbott in the 1926 La Sierra Academy yearbook, El Serrano, 29.

4 Hill, 194,195

5 1927 El Serrano, 38, 53,63; SCJC College Criterion, 12, 17 December 1929; 8 May 1930, 25 September 1930 and numerous other issues of CC to 12 May 1932.

6 College Criterions during Beisel's time at SCJC; Hill, 201.

7 Keld J. Reynolds, "La Sierra College in Adolesence," Adventist Heritage, Winter 1979, 30-32.

8 Reynolds, 33,34.

9 SCJC College Criterion, March 24-April 22, 1937, 6 April 1939; Hill, 206.

10 College Criterion, Picture Supplement, 28 January 1937.

11 SCJC College Criterion, April 6, 1939; Actual seating capacity today is about half the stated figure because of renovations over the years.

12 SCJC 1939 Meteor.

13 Harlyn Abel biography, IAMA Website.

14 Edna Farnsworth, IAMA Website.

15 Hill, 207, 212. Hill, who had played under Racker, was not too charitable in writing about him: "Otto Racker, L.R.A.M., a typical fair-haired, hot-tempered German, did much to continue and hasten the growth of the instrumental organizations . . . In the place of technical facility he oftenused his temper to secure results but even so built up quite a following. Part of his popularity was undoubtedly due to the antics of Racker. The audience would come to see him perform as much as to hear the orchestra."

16 La Sierra Today, "A Tradition of Progress: A Brief History of La Sierra University," 10-13; 1984 Visions, LLU yearbook, 14.

17 Harold Hannum biography, IAMA Website.

18 Hill, 218.

19 John T. Hamilton biography, IAMA Website.

20 Information about the Collegians is from a 1950-51 Collegian tour program; the information on the La Sierrans is found in Hill 225, and yearbooks from that era.

21 Hill, 215.

22 H. Allen Craw Vita on file in the LSU Heritage Room.

23 LSC yearbook, Meteor, 40.

24 Perry Beach biography, IAMA website.

25 Organ brochure, 1970's.

26 Hole Notes, Fall 1994; Some of the ranks in the LSU Church pipe organ are electronic; Donald Jon Vaughn biography, IAMA website.

27 Letters, documents, publicity as found in the LSU library Heritage Room; conversation with Vernon Koenig, July 1983; Personal Knowledge.

28 Promotional materials for the workshop. Both the Blomstedt and Willcocks workshops came to an end in 1984, primarily because of financial problems. They had never been self-funding.

29 La Sierra Today, "A Tradition of Progress: A Brief History of La Sierra University," 24-25; interviews with persons listed under additional sources.

30 La Sierra Today, Winter 1991, 12; Winter, 1992.

31 La Sierra Today, Annual Report 1991-1992, 23.

32 La Sierra Today, Summer 1994.

33 Hole Notes, Newsletter of the Department of Music at La Sierra University, Fall 1994, 1.

Events on campus and in music from the 1970's to the present are based on conversations/interviews with persons and sources listed below, the LSU website, and personal knowledge.

Additional Sources

Conversations/Interviews: William Chunestudy, 29 September 2005; Barbara Favorito, Jeffrey Kaatz, and Donald Thurber, 1 October 2005; Kimo Smith, 5 October 2005; Rene Ramos, 5 October 2005; Donald Jon Vaughn, 5, 16 October 2005.

Hole Notes, music department newsletter, Fall 1994, Fall 2000, Winter 2001.

La Sierra Today ,LSU alumni magazine, Winter 1991 to present.

LSC, and LLU yearbooks: Meteor, 1939- 1972, and Visions, 1984, 1986-88.

IAMA website biographies prepared by the author in consultation with the person, his/her family and/or other sources.A Special thank-you to Neddi Yaeger,Music Department Administrative Secretary and Anthony Zabarschuk, LSU Heritage Room Curator.

 Copyrighted by IAMA and Dan Shultz