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Catharine (Crozier) Gleason (1914-2003):

Professor of Music and Accomplished Organist

Catharine Crozier, born on July 18, 1914 to Walter Stuart, a retired Presbyterian minister, and Alice Condit Crozier, originated in Hobart, Oklahoma.  As a young girl, Crozier enjoyed playing the organ, piano, and violin.  Owing to her proficiency in music, she could publicly perform by age six.  She received her preparatory education at Central High in Pueblo, Colorado from 1927 until 1931.  A year later Crozier began her undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester, at the Eastman School of Music.  She graduated in 1936 with a Bachelor of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate.  Later that year, Crozier began graduate studies at the Eastman School, which awarded her a Masters of Music and an Artist’s Diploma in 1941.  On April 9, 1942, Crozier married Harold Gleason, a teacher under whom she had studied music.  From 1936 to 1956 Gleason served as an instructor, working her first two years as a fellowship teacher.  She gave lessons in the organ, harpsichord, and church service playing.  Additionally, in the summers of 1953 and 1955, she joined the faculty of the Andover Organ Institute.  Gleason participated in a variety of honorary and professional organizations, such as Mu Phi Epsilon, Pi Kappa Lamda, the American Guild of Organists, National Music Teachers, and the Rochester chapter of the United Nations.  Politically, Gleason identified as a Republican.  Her other achievements included the publication of a portion of her thesis, “The Principles of Keyboard Technique in Il Transilvano by Girolamo Diruta,” which appeared in the Mu Phi Epsilon’s The Triangle and the Andover Institute Quarterly

In 1955, Gleason came to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida as an assistant professor of organ.  She expressed admiration for a liberal arts education and considered the “Rollins Plan” of instruction, based upon small groups studying together with guidance from a professor, as one of the chief benefits of the College.  She also sympathized with the ideals of a Christian, non-sectarian institution.  From 1956 Gleason also served as the organist of Knowles Memorial Chapel on the Rollins Campus.  She later became an associate professor of organ, until her retirement from the school in 1969.  Recognized throughout campus for her skill, Gleason devoted approximately five hours per day to practicing the organ and rehearsing for concerts.  Touring with her husband (who also worked at Rollins as a music consultant), she performed in numerous major cities in the United States and European cultural centers, which suited her because she enjoyed traveling.  In 1965 Gleason received an invitation to give a concert with the New York Philharmonic for the World’s Fair Festival, one of many bookings that testified to her international prestige.  Throughout her illustrious career, her concerts received constant glowing reviews, such as this press release from Copenhagen: “What fascinated us above all was her ability to phrase as sensitively and delicately as one could expect only from the lips of a woodwind player or the bow of a stringed instrument….”[1] Gleason passed away on September 19, 2003 at the age of eighty-nine.

 - Angelica Garcia

[1] Fran Conklin, “Rollins College Organist to Play at Lincoln Center,” Orlando Sentinel – Florida Magazine, 22 March, 1964, 19-F.

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