Louise Lincoln Kerr was a composer, violist and patron of the arts. She was born on April 24, 1892, in Cleveland, Ohio, and died December 10, 1977, at her ranch in Cottonwood, Arizona. She was the daughter of John C. Lincoln, an engineer and real estate tycoon. Her mother taught her to play the piano at age 6 and violin at age 7, and she later learned to play and preferred the viola. In 1910, she attended Barnard College in New York, where she studied music composition. She left New York around 1913 in order to join the early Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, one of the first two women to join the orchestra.
She married Peter Kerr (of Danish origin, his name originally spelled KJER), with whom she had eight children. In 1936, she and her family moved to Arizona for the health of one of her daughters, first living in Flagstaff and then in Phoenix. In Scottsdale, she bought 47 acres of land south of Lincoln Drive (was named for her father, who built Camelback Inn) with the dream of establishing an artists’ colony and retreat for professional and promising musicians, artists and writers.
She composed more than 100 works including: symphonic tone poems, works for chamber orchestra, a violin concerto, numerous piano pieces, vocal pieces, string quartets, piano quartets and quintets, ballets and incidental music, and numerous duos for piano and other instruments. She was often called “The Grand Lady of Arizona Music,” and was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
Before her death in 1977, she willed two acres and the buildings to Arizona State University’s College of Fine Arts. Since October 1981, the Kerr Cultural Center has been managed by ASU Gammage. On April 14, 2010 the ASU Kerr Cultural Center was officially entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
-Bio courtesy of ASU Kerr Cultural Center
The Four Seasons Orchestra will be performing a number of Louise Kerr’s works:
7:30pm, May 19, 2012 at the Kerr Cultural Center. The performance, an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project, will also include the release of the “Arizona Profiles”, a recording of Louise Kerr’s chamber music. Tickets will be $18 for adults and $15 for seniors/students. Call the ASU Kerr Cultural Center at (480) 596-2660 for ticket availability.
Additional Audio: Carolyn Broe shares details on Louise Kerr’s generous gifts to the Phoenix Symphony and the Phoenix Chamber Music Society.
Additional Audio: Carolyn Broe shares details on Louise Kerr’s generous gifts to Arizona State University.
Additional Audio: Carolyn Broe describes Louise Kerr’s compositional style. Also includes short excerpt of Kerr’s “Enchanted Mesa”, from a live 2009 performance by Scottsdale’s Four Seasons Orchestra.