A Musical Tradition

Pianist Debra Lew Harder, left, with Joseph C. Schiavo, artistic director of the Mallery Series.

Pianist Debra Lew Harder, left, with Joseph C. Schiavo, artistic director of the Mallery Series.

By Sam Starnes

Classical pianist Debra Lew Harder has performed in concert halls nationwide and in Europe, but she also enjoys playing in Rutgers University–Camden’s Mallery Concert Series, a musical tradition on campus that dates back more than three decades. “It’s a wonderful series with a beautiful piano,” said Harder, sitting at the shiny, black Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand in the Mallery Room in the Fine Arts Building. “I love the richness of its sound.”

Harder, who also hosts a Saturday morning show on Philadelphia radio station WRTI-FM, has appeared twice in the free series held most Wednesday mornings during the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Performances feature solo pianists, such as Harder—who played selections from Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin, among others—but also chamber music groups featuring strings, vocalists, brass, and woodwinds, as well as jazz bands.

Steve Kawajiri, a retired Rutgers– Camden alumnus, attended a performance by the Copeland Quintet that featured three violins, a cello, and piano. “I have a chance to come to these regularly,” said Kawajiri SBC’81,’85. “I very much enjoy the music.”

The series was started by the late Fine Arts Music Professor W. Davis “Jerry” Jerome in 1986. After a gift to the music program from the Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star of New Jersey in honor of organist Dorothy Mallery, the series was renamed in her honor.

The gift has funded decades of scholarships for Rutgers–Camden music students. Joseph C. Schiavo, associate dean for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, was the first Mallery Scholarship recipient. “I was thrilled to death because I was on the way to grad school and I really needed the extra money,” said Schiavo, who earned his undergraduate degree at Rutgers–Camden in 1982 before going on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees at Rutgers–New Brunswick.

Schiavo, a full-time faculty member at Rutgers–Camden since 1991, has served as the Mallery Series artistic director since 2008. “We are looking forward to many more years of this series,” he said. “Having a nice, quiet place to listen to beautiful music on a weekly basis really adds value to what we offer here at Rutgers University–Camden.”

The Mallery Concert Series performances begin at 11:20 a.m. on Wednesdays and are free and open to the public. More information.

Video about the series.

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