John Courter

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John Courter (June 25, 1941 – June 21, 2010)[1] was an American composer, organist, and carillonneur who served as a professor of music at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, from 1971 until his death on June 21, 2010.[2] A native of Lansing, Michigan, Courter earned a bachelor's degree in choral music education from Michigan State University in 1962 and a Master's of Music degree in organ in 1966 from the University of Michigan.[3] He also studied at the North German Organ Academy and held diplomas from the Netherlands Carillon School.[4]

Courter was active both as a performer and composer and was considered one of the leading contemporary composers for the carillon, having won several international prizes with his original carillon compositions.[5][6] Courter also served on the World Carillon Federation Keyboard Committee, an international keyboard committee, which drafted a recommendation for the technical norms for a world standard carillon keyboard that was accepted by the World Carillon Federation in 2006.[7]

Courter's carillon works have been published in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States as well as performed on carillons throughout the world, and he has composed more than 20 pieces for the carillon,[8] including In Memoriam which is dedicated to those whose lives were lost in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.[9] Both the Associate Carillonneur Exam as well as the more advanced Carillonneur Exam by the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America include Courter compositions.[10][11]

Mr. Courter's carillon performances and compositions have received numerous honors. In 1993, Mr. Courter was awarded the prestigious Berkeley Medal for Distinguished Service to the Carillon as a performer and composer.[12] Courter has also been honored with the title of permanent Honorary Member by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.[13] In 2010, the largest carillon in the state of Kentucky, Berea College's 56-bell carillon, was renamed to honor John Courter.[14] Courter's carillon compositions continue to be played after his death.[15]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "John Courter, 68 Carillonneur, retired professor of music at Berea College, dies", Richmond Register,, June 23, 2010
  3. ^ Music at Michigan. UM Libraries. 1994. pp. 3–. UOM:39015035650665. 
  4. ^ John Courter, Berea College Organist, Carillonneur and retired Professor of Music, dies, June 22. 2010,
  5. ^ Jay Buckner, Julie Sowell, International convention of carillonneurs features compositions by Carillonneur John Courter, June 15, 2010, BC Now!,
  6. ^ Yale performance, John Courter,
  7. ^ World Carillon Federation Keyboard Committee, Consensus on technical norms for a world standard carillon keyboard WCF Keyboard 2006,
  8. ^ World Carrilon Federation, Sheet Music,
  9. ^ John Courter, September 15, 2001, In Memoriam,
  10. ^ Associate Carillonneur Exam, Guild of Carillonneurs of North America,, 7-13-2013
  11. ^ Required Pieces for 2015, Carillonneur Exam, Guild of Carillonneurs of North America,, July 16, 2014
  12. ^ Chimes Silent After John Courter Passes Away,, June 22, 2010
  13. ^ John Courter Obituary, Lansing State Journal, June 25, 2010,
  14. ^ Berea College to Rename Carillon after John Courter,, November 13, 2010.
  15. ^ John Courter,,