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May 22, 2011

St. Francis Choir Director Dr. John Motley Passes Away

Dr. John Motley, Director of the St. Francis College Choir for 14 years passed away May 22 after a long illness. In the 1960's, as Director of Music for the New York City Public Schools, Dr. Motley formed the All City Concert Choir. For two decades, the group sang at venues like Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center; for dignitaries including President Jimmy Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Pope John Paul II and Mayors Abe Beame and John Lindsay; and with musicians like Dizzy Gillespie and opera singers Marian Anderson, William Warfield and Camilla Williams.

Please continue to check the College website for news of a memorial with members of the All City Concert Choir in the fall.

Longtime friend and Chancellor of St. Francis College, Frank Macchiarola brought Dr. Motley to St. Francis when he was President of the College to head the choir. "He showed so many of us the positive impact music can have on a young person's life," said Dr. Macchiarola.

Dr. Motley stayed at St. Francis for the past 14 years, reaching thousands of graduates, alumni and faculty with Christmas concerts and performances at commencements, charter days and other College functions. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by the College in 2002.

At a reunion of the All City Concert Choir in March 2009 held at St. Francis, Dr. Motley commented that, "Seeing how successful my students have become and listening to them talk about how the All City experience impacted their lives brought me great joy." (Watch the concert Act I / Act II)

In addition to his decades of experience teaching music for New York City public school students, Dr. Motley was also a professor at City College and Marymount Manhattan as well as music director at Grace Congregational Church of Harlem.

Dr. John Motley was 89.

The Motley family requests any donations be made to the Dr. John Motley Scholarship at St. Francis College. Please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at (718) 489-5361 or [email protected].

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
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