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Charles Farmer, ca. 2001

Charles Farmer (1935-2019)
Former CMC director passes

We are sad to share the news that our former director, Charles Farmer, passed away at the end of January 2019.


A celebration of life in honor of Charles will be held at the Community Music Center (Portland, OR) on Sunday, February 17, at 3:00 pm. The celebration will be followed by a reception at one of his favorite locations: the Woodstock Wine & Deli. All who knew Charles are welcomed to attend.


Before taking the helm of CMC, Mr. Farmer was Director of the Applied Music Program at Reed College from 1978-1982. From 1965-1982, he was on the music faculties of the University of Oregon (Eugene) and both Lewis & Clark and Reed Colleges (Portland), teaching piano and a wide range of subjects including music history, theory, composition, and aesthetics. He received his Master of Music degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently performed extensively as a pianist, primarily on the West Coast and in Japan. 


Charles served on grant review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and both local and state arts commission in Oregon, and also played an important role in the National Community Arts Education movement. He was an active member of the Board of Trustees of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts for four three-year terms, serving as vice president for six years, chairperson of the West Coast and Northwest Regional Chapters for three years, and chairperson of the Membership Committee for seven years. In 2004 he received the Guild’s Presidents Award “in honor of his passion and lifelong commitment to advancing arts education.”


His loved ones have asked that remembrances be made to the Community Music Center in his honor.


The excerpt below is from the book “Community Music Center: The First 60 Years – A Musical History” by Donald Nelson:

'Charles Farmer, Director of CMC, 1982-2002
In a recent interview Charles Farmer said, “I was fortunate to inherit a great faculty and fortunate to be able to add to it many gifted musicians and teachers, I emphasized the “community” aspect of the Center. Teachers become familiar colleagues. Students and parents mingle and get to know each other. Students have the opportunity for orchestra, chorus, chamber music, and theory classes in addition to their instrumental lessons. Both students and teachers can take pride in being associated with an institution that has considerable recognition and reputation, not only in the Portland area but nationally.”  Many have commented how Charles as Director took the time to get to know the students and their parents.'


Photo: Charles Farmer, ca. 2001


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Community Music Center is located at 3350 SE Francis Street, Portland, 97202 - one block South of Powell Blvd.  www.communitymusiccenter.org  503-823-3177

Community Music Center is a non-profit organization in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation.

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