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John Courter Papers



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John Courter Papers, c. 1980-2010 | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

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Collection Overview

Title: John Courter Papers, c. 1980-2010Add to your cart.

ID: RG 09/9.11

Primary Creator: Courter, John.

Extent: 7.0 Boxes (General)

Subjects: Berea College, Berea College -- Faculty, Berea College -- Music Department, Carillons., Guild of Carillonneurs in North America., Music -- Appalachian Region., Organ music. Arranged

Languages: English


John Courter was an organist, carillonneur, and professor of music at Berea College. Courter joined the Berea College faculty in 1971 as a teacher and organist. After retiring from teaching in 2007, he continued to serve as College Organist and was also the College Carillonneur. In addition, to work at the Courter was the organist at Union Church and a long-time contributor to the music of St. Clare Catholic Church, both in Berea.

A native of Lansing, Michigan, Courter earned a bachelor’s degree in choral music education from Michigan State University in 1962 and a master of music degree in organ in 1966 from the University of Michigan. He had also studied at the North German Organ Academy and held diplomas from the Netherlands Carillon School.

Courter contributed to the musical life of the college and the larger community in numerous ways during his 39 years at Berea. In the music department he taught organ, piano, chime, and carillon performance, church music, and music theory and was a former director of the Harmonia Society. As College Organist he performed frequently for official functions, at worship services in Danforth Chapel, as an accompanist for the Concert Choir and other campus ensembles, and as a recitalist. A well-known organist in the region, he was Dean of the Lexington Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Courter was involved in the renovation of the Holtkamp pipe organ in Gray Auditorium at Berea and the 10-bell chime in Phelps Stokes Chapel. Courter was also 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.  The Carillonneur was dedicated as the John Courter Carillon in the Fall 2010.

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. In 1993, 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 and a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (and named a permanent Honorary Member of the Guild).

Courter, a leading contemporary composer for the carillon, won several international prizes with his original works that have been published in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States and performed on carillons throughout the world. His works have been 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. “In Memoriam – Sept. 11, 2001,” a 3 ½ minute piece written in 2002 to honor victims of that event, has been played around the world. One of his compositions is included in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and Grove online.

In 2005, Courter established the Summer Carillon Concert Series at Berea College which continues to bring international performers of the instrument to Berea’s campus. Courter passed away in his Berea home in June, 2010 at the age of 68.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains the papers of John Courter, organist, carillonneur, and professor of music at Berea College from 1971 t0 2007.  Records and papers reflect his work at Berea College, a composer, musician, and member of the professional organizations and include photographs, correspondence, clippings, brochures, performance and recital posters and programs, compositions, arrangements and scores, personal notes, and recording (on VHS, CD, and Digital Video Cassette format) of recitals by Courter and others.

Subject/Index Terms

Berea College
Berea College -- Faculty
Berea College -- Music Department
Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.
Music -- Appalachian Region.
Organ music. Arranged

Administrative Information

Repository: Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

Access Restrictions: Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.  Please contact Archivist for information regarding media contained in this collection.

Use Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations. Cite all information.

Preferred Citation: [Item/Folder/Box], John Courter Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Berea College, Berea, KY.

Processing Information: The collection processed and finding aid was created in 2016 by Lori Myers-Steele, Collections Archivist.  Media in process of digitization; ask archivist for more information.

Box and Folder Listing

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[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[Box 5],
[Box 6],

Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Compositions, Arrangements and Scores by Courter and OthersAdd to your cart.
Item 1: The New Tower and Carillon of Kampen, by John Courter (copy with handwritten notes)Add to your cart.
Item 2: Notebook of notes by Courter, first entry 1987Add to your cart.
Item 3: A Compendium of Inaugural Recitals on Cast-Bell Instruments in North America, by James B. Slater, 2001Add to your cart.
Item 4: A Compendium of Inaugural Recitals on Cast-Bell Instruments in North America, Book 2, by James B. Slater, 2006Add to your cart.
Item 5: Index to the Bulletin of The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, 1940-1995, Volumes I - XLIV, Margo HalstedAdd to your cart.

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[Box 1],
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[Box 3],
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