Central College News

Mark Babcock organ recital celebrates endowed chair in music

September 4, 2012

Mark Babcock, associate professor of music at Central College, will give a lecture and organ recital Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. in the Chapel. The event is a celebration of Babcock receiving the M. Joan Kuyper Farver Endowed Chair in Music.

The chair represents Central’s commitment to the arts and the belief that music is a vital part of the Central experience. It memorializes the contributions of M. Joan Kuyper Farver to the economic and cultural life of Central and the people of Pella.

A native of Pella, Farver is chairman emeritus of Pella Corporation. She has also served as a member of the Central College board of trustees and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the college.

“All my life I’ve had a love for music, so it’s especially meaningful and an honor to have Mark Babcock fill the Joan Kuyper Farver Chair in Music at Central College,” said Farver. “I look forward to his recital.”

Babcock graduated from Central College in 1991 with a degree in vocal music education. He earned his master’s in organ and choral conducting at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., and has done significant doctoral work at the University of Iowa in the same fields. Babcock returned to teach and direct at Central in 1998.

“I was very honored and a little surprised to receive this chair,” said Babcock. “I do what I do because I love the institution as an alumnus and a faculty member and I love the close work I’m able to do with students. This honor has made me reflect on the successes I’ve had with students in the classroom and recital hall and the many connections I’ve enjoyed with students during my 14 years here.”

As director of choral activities at Central, Babcock leads the 60-voice A Cappella Choir, the 18-member Chamber Singers and the large College Community Chorus. He is also involved professionally in the American Guild of Organists (AGO), for which he is a national councilor. Last June, he organized the national AGO convention in Des Moines.

Babcock performs the organ professionally around Iowa and takes the A Cappella Choir on tour nationally and internationally. He also involves students in the Iowa Choral Directors Association and the AGO to provide professional networking opportunities.

“Making music with others—dealing with questions of humanity and emotion—helps us to relate to the questions: Who am I? What is my relationship with others? How do I live a meaningful life?” said Babcock. These three questions are central to the first-year seminar at Central College, as well as the rest of campus and academic life.

Babcock’s lecture and recital on Sept. 23 will cover the history and influence of North German Baroque organ music. The organ in the Chapel on which Babcock will perform is an example of this type. The recital will include pieces from Bach, Mendelssohn and Brahms, among others.

“The arts are about what is common among all humans,” said Babcock. “The arts open windows so people can see what is beautiful and transcendent in life. Music helps students create a moral compass, wrestle with ideas and become better people.”

The event is free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the recital in the Upper Chapel.