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Peter Harvey: A Passion for Music and for Life
His family will receive friends on Wednesday, March 9, from 6-8 p.m. at the Carmon Windsor Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave., Windsor. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, March 10, at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 26 Wintonbury Ave., Bloomfield.
Harvey, a conductor, composer, and singer, earned master's and doctoral degrees from The Hartt School, and was an associate professor of music at Hartford College for Women (HCW). He was founder and director of the Connecticut Women's Chorale, based at the university's Asylum Avenue campus.
"He was an extraordinary human being. He was absolutely brilliant," said Susan Lennon, former director of HCW and a former member of the Connecticut Women's Chorale. Lennon also is a former member of the board of the Hartford Conservatory, where Harvey served as dean of faculty.
"Peter had a remarkable ability to weave his knowledge of music, history, biography, and social issues into everything he did," said Lennon, who currently serves as executive director of the Women's College Coalition in Washington. D.C. "His mind was an incredible repository of information that he constantly drew upon to make all of his interactions extremely rich."
University Provost Donna Randall said she saw Harvey perform on the Asylum Avenue campus, and she was impressed by "his genuine enjoyment and enthusiasm for music and for his students. It was absolutely delightful to see the pleasure that he derived from music, and from sharing it with people."
Harvey was a lifelong entertainer who began performing as a child in his native Maine. In addition to his teaching and his work with the Hartford Conservatory and Connecticut Women's Chorale, Harvey was director of music for the archdiocesan Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, and he served a term with the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Along with his wife, Cindi, Harvey performed 31 consecutive Christmas shows at the historic Center Church in Hartford. In 1999, his "Home for Christmas, 1945" program for Connecticut Public Television and Radio received a regional Emmy.
In addition to his serious musical work, Harvey also was known for his warm and engaging personality. HCW colleagues have fond memories of Harvey spontaneously bursting into song in his office and in the hallways, and writing original songs to celebrate co-workers' birthdays and other milestones.
"He was sunshine. He was delightful," said Grace Parks Mitchell, who worked down the hall from Harvey as assistant director of the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame. "The world is a sadder place without the joy of his music and his very optimistic personality."
Associate Professor Emerita Jeanne Bonaca, a close friend of Harvey's, said, "When I think of Peter, I think first of all those times in the Butterworth living room with Peter leading the staff and faculty in a song he had written for someone at the college who was celebrating. And so the first image that came into my mind when I heard that he had died was of all his friends standing in a circle and singing to him:
"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again, some sunny day.
Keep smiling through, just like you always do,
'Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away…."