ITHACA, NY — Lawrence Doebler will retire as director of choral activities at Ithaca College at the end of the current academic year, ending a 35-year stint with the School of Music. During his time in Ithaca, he has also served for 26 years as the music director for the First Presbyterian Church of Ithaca. To honor his many years of teaching and service, the church recently named its music library in Doebler’s honor. In addition, alumni from the School of Music will return to Ithaca College during Alumni Weekend in October to perform in a choral concert with Doebler at the podium.
With a collection of some 900 choral and orchestral works, along with music for bell and children’s choirs, the church library is now known as the Doebler Music Library. It is housed in a newly renovated area in the church supported by gifts from the congregation.
“I have always enjoyed being a church musician, working with amateur singers to make them the best they can be and lead them in worship through singing,” Doebler said. “As music director, I worked with the entire music program, which included four children’s choirs, youth and bell choirs, the organist and the chancel choir. In addition to major choral and orchestral works, we performed a fully staged musical and collaborated with other area congregations in performances for the community at large.”
Doebler began his work with First Presbyterian Church in 1984, six years after arriving at Ithaca College. During his tenure conducting choral groups in the School of Music, he has led countless spring break tours that have taken vocal ensembles throughout the United States and Ireland. In addition to local and regional venues, vocal groups under Doebler’s direction have performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The School of Music will honor his longtime teaching and performing career on Saturday, Oct. 13, when Doebler will conduct the “Choral Reunion” concert. Featuring the Ithaca College Choir and School of Music alumni, the event will take place at 8:30 p.m. in Ford Hall in the James J. Whalen Center for Music.
“Since arriving in Ithaca more than three decades ago, Larry has touched the lives of many students and countless community members with his love of music and his compassionate leadership,” said Craig Cummings, interim dean of the music school. “It comes as no surprise that in December, the New York State School Music Association will present Larry with the organization’s Outstanding Contributor Award, a fitting tribute to Larry’s extraordinary efforts in support of music education.”
After retiring, Doebler and his wife Patty plan to relocate to North Carolina.