After 17 years leading, performing and teaching church music, Ken and Sharon DeBoer will say goodbye to full-time music work as of June 23.The DeBoers have served as organist and music director at Sardis Presbyterian since soon after they moved to Charlotte in 1996. Today they will give a farewell organ recital.The DeBoers, both 66, will retire June 30.“The recital is a special thank you to the congregation for their love and support for these 17 years, and to the wider community for their support and interest in the music program,” Ken said.The DeBoers met in the 1960s on a college tour for freshman at Westminster Choir College, where they studied music. After working in New Jersey for more than 25 years, they moved to Charlotte and soon took jobs with Sardis Presbyterian.They didn’t know anyone in Charlotte; the two learned about the city over the airwaves. In New Jersey, Ken enjoyed listening to AM radio at night and had picked up Charlottean Henry Boggan’s “Hello Henry” call-in radio show on 1110 WBT.“Henry was very, very congenial, not like the combat radio of New York City that we had been exposed to all those years,” Sharon said. “We just liked the gentleness of the way he handled his callers, and we said, ‘This is what we want for our lives.’ ”In nearly two decades at Sardis Presbyterian, the DeBoers have done everything from facilitating handbell concerts with hundreds of musicians to mentoring young organists.They have taken church concert choir tours to Europe and helped prepare children with special needs to perform at the White House. They have organized recitals and major concerts at the church and instituted a concert series for the church and community.“We have had very fine ensembles that we have worked with, very fine bell choirs and singing choirs,” Ken said. “I trust they have grown musically under our leadership, and they certainly do wonderful, wonderful work.”To pass on their love of organ music, the couple founded the DeBoer Scholarship to provide free organ instruction to promising high school musicians at the church.“We started the scholarship so in the next generation we will have good musicians to take our place as we have come now into retirement,” Ken said.They have since mentored three students, all of whom continue to pursue music.John Chamberlain is a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was accepted into the Men’s Glee Club as a freshman. David Anderson is beginning a master’s degree program in organ performance at the University of Oklahoma, and David Brinson studied organ at Appalachian State University and Emory University. Brinson is now the director of music ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Winter Haven, Fla.“They are wonderful young gentleman, and we are happy to see their vibrant love of music and the part that we played in making their love of that music a possibility,” Ken said.Ken also oversaw the installation of a Reuter pipe organ at Sardis Presbyterian five years ago. The new instrument is twice as big as its predecessor.“I’m leaving a piece of me at the church for the next 60 years,” Ken said. “It’s a privilege for an organist to have input to designing an instrument for a congregation. “I’ve served three churches since leaving college, and I’ve been fortunate enough to oversee an organ installing at each of them. The organ at Sardis is my crowning glory.”The DeBoers will take a long vacation in Alaska the week after they retire, and then plan to stay in Charlotte and at Sardis Presbyterian, where they are members. Their daughter, Judy Culpepper, lives in Charlotte with her family, and their son, Tim DeBoer, lives in New York. Their farewell organ recital, which begins at 4 p.m. at Sardis Presbyterian at 6100 Sardis Road, is free and open to the community. It will include pieces that audience members have requested they play over the years, including “Organ Hymn,” which composer Raymond Haan wrote for the DeBoers when the Reuter organ was installed. For more information about Sardis Presbyterian, visit www.sardis.org.
Friday, Jun. 21, 2013
Retiring musicians to give farewell coda
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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