MY ART STORY by

Lillian Utsey Harder

Clemson
South Carolina

lillian_harder & lang_lang.jpg

Woman and man posing for camera.

Lillian Utsey Harder, co-founder of the Utsey Chamber Series, with pianist Lang Lang. Photo by Sandra C. Smith

In 1986, I and my husband Dr. Byron Harder began an endowment at Clemson University to establish the Lillian and Robert Utsey Chamber Music Series in memory of my parents. The purpose of the endowment was two-fold: one, to offer free chamber music concerts to the public, and two, to present up-and-coming artists, modeled after the Chamber Music Series at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1994, Clemson University opened the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, an 87,000 square foot state-of-the art facility with a 968-seat theater, greatly enhancing the possibilities for outreach. Since 1997, many of the artists who performed on the evening chamber series have also performed concerts for children from 3-18 who are bused to the Brooks Center from their local public, private, and home schools. To date, 49 chamber music concerts have helped thousands of children develop a taste for classical music, and several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to support this endeavor have helped to cultivate a new generation of classical music fans. In 2003, we began submitting concert recordings to American Public Media’s Performance Today, and to date selections from 47 concerts have been aired, reaching an estimated 11,750,000 listeners across the nation. In 2002, Clemson University received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts in recognition of outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. This award is the highest award given in the state for artistic achievement.

Thank you to the NEA for your vital support which has enabled us to bring classical music to multiple generations.