The mural on the wall of Kay Hardesty Logan’s summer home is a tribute to the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, which launched Mrs. Logan’s career in music. The woman at its center is playing a flute solo.
That isn’t Mrs. Logan. Though she did play flute, both at Chautauqua and, for 20 years, with the Columbus Symphony, she asked to instead be painted into the mural’s background. It was an honest assessment: Mrs. Logan, who died June 8 in Washington, D.C., had just as much impact, if not more, as a supporter of the arts, including programs at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.
In 1989, Mrs. Logan established Music at Noon: The Logan Wintergarden Series at Penn State Behrend, offering informal lunchtime performances by professional chamber music ensembles. The programs, which are attended by more than 300 people, including students from Diehl Elementary School, have since been moved to McGarvey Commons to accommodate larger audiences.
The educational component of the performances was important to Mrs. Logan, who, as a student, attended Chautauqua Institution on a scholarship. Every artist who performs at Music at Noon agrees to provide an in-school residency and workshop at Diehl and to meet with students in an undergraduate General Arts course at Penn State Behrend.
“For children, and even for some adults, ‘chamber music’ is an intimidating set of words,” Mrs. Logan said in 2015. “We tried to design a program that was user-friendly while exposing different sectors of the population to the music and making them happy about it.”
The Music at Noon series received the Chamber Music America and American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Award for Adventurous Programming in 2006, and again in 2015. It is one of just three two-time honorees.
“Mrs. Logan was a true visionary, and we were fortunate to have been part of her dream,” said Gary Viebranz, director of the series and director of instrumental ensembles at Penn State Behrend. “Through her generosity, she shared her love of chamber music and the arts with tens of thousands of students at Penn State Behrend, in the Erie School District, and with the Erie community. Her encouragement, advisement and trust were integral in shaping our series over 27 seasons.”
In 1991, working with Provost and Dean John Lilley, Mrs. Logan pledged to fund the purchase, renovation and furnishing of the former Mack Estate, on Station Road, to provide an opportunity for students at the college to develop social skills and cultural appreciation in a formal setting. She also donated the grand piano that sits in the home’s parlor.
The home is now known as Logan House, a tribute to her late husband, Harry A. Logan Jr., a former president of United Refining Company, and his family. More than 150 programs are held at Logan House each year.
In addition to performing in Columbus and Chautauqua, Mrs. Logan taught music at the University of Illinois, Denison University and the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. Her philanthropy included support of a project in Ecuador that used music instruction and instruments donated by Mrs. Logan to help children who had been orphaned, abandoned or disabled. Throughout her life, her primary focus remained music, both as an art and an avenue for communicating with others.
In 2015, she said of her efforts at Penn State Behrend, “It’s turned out to be a good thing for the campus, a good thing for students and a good thing for the community. That makes me very happy.”