Trachte Music Center matches Lycoming College’s emphasis on music | News, Sports, Jobs


RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Lycoming College opened the Trachte Music Center in Williamsport on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. The 14,000 square foot building on the corner of Basin and East Fourth St. houses a classroom, practice rooms, a recital space and offices.

The education and study of music is a two-century-old tradition at Lycoming College.

At the official inauguration of the Trachte Music Center on Friday, trustees and faculty remembered the history of music at the private liberal arts college and how the new facility is meant to respond or exceed expectations.

“This beautiful new building will provide the quality space and environment for the (music) program and its students for many decades to come,” said Philip Sprunger, provost and dean of the faculty.

Sprunger noted that many viewers were familiar with the college’s past musical experiences.

He highlighted the three pillars of the early music department: Walter McIver, the director of the Lycoming College Choir from 1946 to 1976; Fred Thayer, director of the Lycoming College Choir from 1976 to 2013; and Mary Landon Russell, who taught piano from 1936 until the late 1990s.

Their storied careers have helped launch many music majors towards its lifetime ambition and their combined impact on students in ensemble programs has been immense.

The history of college music dates back to the early years of Dickinson Seminary in 1848 and further back to the Williamsport Academy era in 1812.

In 1848 music was added as a curriculum along with piano instruction. Music was a component of a larger education in the early years of the seminary.

During these years, students concentrated largely on preparatory studies such as mathematics, rhetoric, Greek, etc. About 20 years later, there were nearly 150 students involved in the study of instrumental music, and the need for a larger space arose.

In the late 19th century, under President Edward J. Gray, the study of art and music attracted so many students that the Seminary constructed a new building, Bradley Hall, dedicated to these two areas.

The seminary continued to flourish into the early 20th century and expanded in the 1920s under the leadership of President John W. Long. In 1929 it became Williamsport Dickinson Seminary and Junior College, Pennsylvania’s first private junior college. The junior college curriculum formalized the advanced study available at Seminary, the majority of which was in the liberal arts and sciences.

Music and the Arts moved from Bradley Hall to a Beaux Arts building at the north end of the main quad.

When this was worn down and demolished, the music landed on the lower level of Clarke Chapel.

“Many spectators walked, sang, practiced and played in this building,” said Sprunger.

On Friday, Music Education officially left Clarke Chapel and moved the music program to Trachte Music Center.

“This building will stand for many years to come, and with two centuries of music in our program, I think we could be sure that the music of Trachte Music Center will continue to thrive and be seen as a central part of an education at Lycoming College. for many years to come,” said Sprunger.

More connections to the wider community and continued student growth and development

“The building demonstrates our commitment to the liberal arts and serves as a symbol of the continued growth of this institution,” said Rachel Hickoff-Cresko, associate professor of education and faculty president.

“It’s also an additional avenue to connect with the great Williamsport community,” she said.

Music is an integral part of people’s lives, whether it’s a soundtrack or an instrument being played.

“We were lucky to be surrounded by music” she says.

“This magnificent building affirms that Lycoming College recognizes and celebrates the role of music in a liberal arts education,” said Hickoff-Cresko.

Students involved in music learn analytical skills while developing creative expression.

“These experiences across disciplines encourage our students to grow as whole individuals,” said Hickoff-Cresko.



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