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News Release

For immediate use

March 29, 2007

Local angles: Cary, Durham, Hickory; Birmingham, Ala.;
Ada, Durant, Kingston, Norman, Stillwater, Okla.; Midland, Texas

Photo: To download a photo, see end of story.

Lara Hoggard, who taught many
to sing, dies March 16 in Durham

CHAPEL HILL – Dr. Lara G. Hoggard, who elevated to prominence choruses ranging from those of small public schools to universities and nationally and internationally known groups, died March 16 in Durham. He was 92.

A William Rand Kenan Jr. professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1967 until he retired in 1980, Hoggard also directed music for national broadcasts by CBS and NBC radio and television. From 1948 to 1951, he directed Fred Waring’s nationally known singing group the Pennsylvanians.

By  invitation, Hoggard gave lecture-demonstrations in choral art across Europe and was artistic director in 1973 and 1974 for the Festival of Three Cities – Budapest, Prague and Vienna – and for the Youth and Music in Vienna Festival.            

He directed workshops and festivals on college and conservatory campuses across the United States and, in his career of more than 50 years, taught millions of singers in North America and Europe.

For the National Concert Artists Corporation and Civic Music Concerts, Hoggard produced and conducted the national concert company Festival of Song, which toured 85 cities in 1952 to 1953.

North Carolina honored him with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1980, the highest honor a governor can bestow. In Texas, where Hoggard directed the Midland-Odessa Symphony Orchestra and Chorale from 1962 until he came to Carolina, the state senate and governor cited him in 1967 for outstanding contributions to the fine arts and education.

Other awards included those in 1976 from the North Carolina chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and the Czech Philharmonic Society, “in gratitude to Maestro Lara Hoggard for the inspirational concerts involving Czech orchestra musicians.”

At UNC, Hoggard founded the Carolina Choir and brought it national and international recognition. In 1972, the choir performed for the Music Educators National Conference and became the first from North America ever invited to be resident ensemble for the International Music Festival in Austria. Under Hoggard’s direction, the UNC choral program grew to include five performing groups.

“He was 6 feet 4, and when he got on the podium he was about 10 feet tall,” said his daughter, Susan Yohe of Durham. “He was a rather impressive looking man.”

UNC recognized him with a Tanner Award for the inspirational teaching of undergraduates, and he was inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece, the university’s oldest and highest honor society.

In 1953, Hoggard was in New York working with CBS when he received a letter from North Carolina, asking him to direct a high school choral institute. He proceeded to create and direct the N.C. Summer Institute in Choral Art for 31 years.

“The main goal of the institute is to make the students think and perform like musicians, and to learn to understand the humanities and art through the music,” Hoggard said then. “They also learn to read music, develop their voices and the ability to hear music correctly, and they go home to contribute to a better music program in their high schools.”

Hoggard was born to a cattle rancher in Kingston, Okla., in 1915. He won first prize for piano in a county competition after just one lesson, at age 11. A janitorial-work scholarship, which paid $35 a month, enabled him to attend Southeastern Teachers College in Durant, Okla. – now Southeastern Oklahoma State University. While there, he put two siblings through college, Yohe said.

“He would clean toilets and send money to his brother and sister,” she said.
Hoggard graduated with highest honors in 1934 and stayed in Durant as music supervisor for the local schools.

The Durant High School Choir was chosen to represent the state at a national music educators conference in 1938 and performed a year later in Baltimore, covered by the Baltimore, Nashville and Washington, D.C., newspapers.         

In fluent praise for the “impressive young conductor,” a Baltimore Sun critic wrote in a page-one story, “Undoubtedly, the hit of the entire convention is, believe it or not, a high school chorus from Oklahoma.”

Hoggard delayed an offer from the University of Oklahoma in Norman to earn a master’s degree at Columbia University in New York. Then, as OU’s choral director from 1940 until 1943, he again rose to prominence when his men’s glee club was one of eight chosen in a nationwide competition to perform in Waring’s Chesterfield National Pleasure-Time Glee Club Championship in Carnegie Hall.

A New York Times critic wrote, “from a musical standpoint, none of the others could touch that group from Oklahoma University.” Waring had them perform twice on his national NBC radio show while they were in New York. 

Hoggard left OU for the Navy, where he served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. He received a commendation for exemplary leadership in combat and performance above and beyond the call of duty.

He then was ordered to Washington, D.C., to conduct the Navy Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in an international radio show, “The Navy Hour.” Afterward, NBC asked him to direct network music. Hoggard declined, because he wanted to seek his doctorate at Columbia, obtained in 1947 with the highest score possible.

In 1955, Hoggard left the limelight of New York and conducting for radio and television to direct the glee club of Indian Springs School near Birmingham, Ala. Soon he had the group performing to acclaim throughout the Southeast.

“He loved to make something out of nothing,” Yohe said. “That’s why he went to Indian Springs, and why he went to Midland. He would take the seemingly impossible and make it into something.”

Since Hoggard’s death, choruses in Durham and Hickory have dedicated concerts in his memory. At UNC, he will be honored in an April 2008 performance by the Carolina Choir, the UNC Chamber Singers, the men’s and women’s glee clubs and the UNC Symphony Orchestra. The program will include Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” a piece that Hoggard studied and edited in his retirement.

He was listening to the piece when he breathed his last, Yohe said. Hoggard is survived by his wife, Mildred Teeter Hoggard, Yohe and a grandson, Peter B. Yohe, all of Durham; a brother, Olaf Hoggard of Ada, Okla.; a sister, Eileen Hoggard Pye of Stillwater, Okla.; and a granddaughter, Chelsea L. Yohe of Cary.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date, to be held at University Presbyterian Church, 209 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Details will be announced on the Web site of the North Carolina Summer Institute in Choral Art Inc., www.ncsica.com. For a more extensive biography of Hoggard, visit the site’s section titled “Dr. Hoggard Memorial Celebration.” Messages posted by alumni of his institutes also are displayed. A tribute to Hoggard also is posted on the UNC music department Web site, http://music.unc.edu.

The family requests that donations in memory of Hoggard be made to the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, 2200 W. Main St., Suite A-230, Durham, N.C., 27705.

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Photo URL: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/faculty/former/hoggard_lara.jpg

Note: Susan Yohe can be reached at (919) 490-0465. UNC music professor Terry Rhodes, a student of Hoggard’s at UNC, can be reached at rhodes@email.unc.edu, (919) 933-8806 and (919) 962-2270.

Note: For a faxed copy of a timeline of Dr. Hoggard’s life, send your fax number to news@unc.edu or laura_toler@unc.edu
News Services contact: L.J. Toler of UNC News Services at (919) 962-8589.