(October 14, 2015)
New Centenary College scholarship honors the work of long-time music educator
A photograph from the 1965 Yoncopin shows Dr. Norman Z. Fisher (top left) and some of his organ students in Centenary's Brown Chapel.
SHREVEPORT, LA — For decades, Dr. Norman Z. Fisher was a familiar face as a performer, conductor, and instructor in Shreveport's choral and instrumental music activities. In addition, for almost 20 years beginning in 1954, Fisher was an instructor in Pipe Organ on the Centenary College faculty. In 2012, the College awarded Fisher an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.
When Fisher passed away earlier this year, family and friends created a scholarship in his honor at Centenary. The Dr. Norman Z. Fisher Scholarship will be awarded annually to a Centenary student concentrating in pipe organ or piano studies.
For Norma Fisher Kilgore, Dr. Fisher's daughter, the scholarship continues her father's special relationship with Centenary. "Dad spent so much of his life giving away to others his joy and knowledge of music. My husband Mike and I felt this scholarship is a way to keep doing that for him in his memory. He loved being a part of Centenary College, and will now continue to be."
Centenary is home to one of the region's finest pipe organs, located on campus in Brown Chapel. It was there that Fisher and his colleagues instructed students in the history and playing of this magnificent instrument. Centenary music students may focus their studies in areas such as performance or composition, but over the years many students studying pipe organ typically added a broader concentration in liturgical, or church, music.
"Norman Fisher exemplified the well-educated church musician," says Dr. Gale Odom, Dean of Centenary's Hurley School of Music. "Although we live in an age when it sometimes seems as if church music is changing at a rapid rate, there is a deep need for flexible, inventive, well-trained church musicians. With the aid of the Norman Z. Fisher scholarship, Centenary will prepare organ students to lead as innovative and skilled church musicians, performers, or composers in their field."
Fisher himself was a graduate of New York's Union Theological Seminary and served as organist for churches in California and Texas before being called as Minister of Music at Shreveport's First Presbyterian Church in 1949. Over the next 60 years, Fisher would have a significant impact on a number of Shreveport-area music organizations. He served as pianist for the Shreveport Chorus and Oratory Society and the Shreveport Opera (where he was also a board member), directed the Shreveport Women's Chorale Ensemble and the Shreveport Symphony Chorale. He also found time to give private lessons.
"He was a great motivator of people, a fine musician, and a teacher," Odom recalls. "He could make any person feel enthusiastic about music. Centenary seeks to create more musicians in his footsteps, whose creative energy is deeply rooted in knowledge of the forces of the past; and forward-looking to the future."
"We are always proud when families and friends honor loved ones through endowed scholarships," adds Vice President for Advancement Fred Landry. "We are doubly honored when a scholarship honors a person who had such an impact of the community and his profession as Norman Z. Fisher."
Gifts to the Dr. Norman Z. Fisher Scholarship can be made by contacting Centenary College at (318) 869-5027 or online.