Hail to Harold Fletcher Reception honors professor's retirement after 64 years

Wes McKinzie (98)

“You gotta face the music.”

That was Dr. Harold Fletcher’s mantra, his exhortation for his Music History students to immerse themselves in what they studied.

“It means you’re not just listening to the music, you’re paying attention to the technicalities of the music writing, what the composer was trying to say,” student Marissa Madison said. “It’s not just hearing melodies, it’s what’s behind the music.”

It’s been a wonderful place to be – friends of great quality, scholars of great ability, students of wonderful interest. Dr. Harold Fletcher
At his last class before retiring, Dr. Fletcher wrapped up his 64-year tenure with a few more peeks behind the musical curtain, providing his trademark insights on “Dead Elvis,” a Bach cantata, and “Hail to Oklahoma Christian.”

“When I wrote the alma mater in 1951, I clutched for words. I was no poet, not even a lyricist. But I had in mind that we needed a song, so I did the best I could,” Fletcher said. “I put two secondary dominant sevenths in the alma mater. There are also some parallel fifths in there, theory students. I’m not going to tell you where they are. You find them.”

That witty comment filled a packed Adams Recital Hall with laughter, as friends, family, colleagues, and current and former students had the chance to learn at Fletcher’s feet in a class setting one final time.

It just happened to be December 4, Fletcher’s 91st birthday.

“These 64 years have been great,” Fletcher said. “It’s been a wonderful place to be – friends of great quality, scholars of great ability, students of wonderful interest.”

Many of those friends, scholars, and students wrote notes of congratulations and gratitude for a gift that Dr. Ken Adams (69) presented to Fletcher, whom he called “my colleague, my mentor, and my friend.”

“Some men’s personality and character are so influential for encouraging good in others that just being around them increases the good in the world,” former student Dessain Terry (67) said in his written note. “You, Dr. Fletcher, are such a man.” 

Summer 2015

View more stories from the Summer 2015 issue of Vision magazine.