A building reflecting who we are

Continuous growth inspires Hari Kern to join Music Pavilion campaign.



For nearly 25 years, Hari Kern has witnessed the momentum building in the Michigan State University College of Music. To continue that, she is helping to build a new facility through a significant gift to fund a chamber practice room.

The Music Pavilion project will rocket the college forward by adding 37,000 square feet of new space to the existing Music Building and renovating another 8,500 square feet in MSU music facilities. As of June 14, 2018, more than $11 million has been raised in support of this bricks and mortar, student-focused project.

Kern, of East Lansing, Michigan, said, “Your home is a reflection of who you are.” And now is the time to make the physical home of MSU Music rise to the high level of artistry already present in its faculty and students.

Hari Kern has remained active in College of Music activities for years, including joining students and faculty on a study abroad trip to Todi, Italy in 2017.
Among her many College of Music related activities, Hari Kern hosted a concert in her home last year with Music alumni Igor Cetkovic, cello, and Wei-Qin Claire Tang, piano.
The Prague Philharmonia concert at Wharton Center in 2017 is one of many live performances Hari Kern (center) attends; here with (from left) music journalist George Loomis, conductor Emmanuel Villaume, violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Andrew Von Oeyen.
Hari Kern began playing piano as a toddler and still performs today. Here she is seen in a 1975 promotional photo before appearing as a concerto soloist with the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra and the Mt. Clemens Symphony.


Kern is a musician who began playing piano as a toddler and studied at Yale, University of Michigan, and Ithaca College which honored her with a lifetime achievement award in 2016.  She performed as a solo pianist and chamber musician and maintained a private piano studio for several years.

Then, due to her growing interest in psychology and mental health, she went back to school and earned the equivalent of an undergraduate major in psychology from Oakland University, a Master's degree in clinical psychology from the University of Detroit, followed by post-Master's course work and a clinical internship at Detroit's Sinai Hospital.  She has been a practicing psychotherapist since 1983 and also has applied her knowledge to the psychological issues that frequently come up for performing musicians.

Her passion for the mid-Michigan music scene is obvious.  She has enjoyed seeing it blossom since she moved to the area in 1994, but it did not begin so auspiciously.

“Years ago when I was living in the Detroit area in my 20s, an MSU voice faculty operatic soprano, Leona Witter, with whom my friend, Amanda Wallner was studying, arranged for Amanda and me to give a recital at the MSU music auditorium.  This was around 1970,” Kern recalled.

While not totally inadequate, the facilities weren't ideal, and it left her feeling that other music schools she had encountered were a notch above MSU.

“Some decades later, I moved to East Lansing and started going to concerts and observing the College with my late husband, Ralph Edminster. There's been a remarkable metamorphosis,” she said. “There were some excellent people here when I came in ‘94, but since then, every department has risen to yet another level.  It’s been building in every area – jazz, voice, opera, strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, orchestra, chamber music, composition, and scholarly work in musicology and music education – everything is just getting better and better, in my opinion."

Kern has observed the college’s steady climb from the inside as well by serving on a wellness team spearheaded by retired music education professor Judy Palac. It is a mission she believes so strongly in that she established an endowment to help fund the effort. As the mental health professional on that team, she has advised and referred a number of students. It has given her a new perspective on the importance of space and place when studying music professionally.

“Facilities are a large part of the college. Some people come here because they want to study with a certain faculty member, but the facilities make an impression to parents and students,” Kern said. “I’ve seen so much growth and so many good things come out of the College of Music in every area. I would like to see it reach an even higher level, and I think it has that potential.”

Supporting the potential of today’s music student is why Kern chose to fund a chamber practice room in the new facility, one large enough for a grand piano that can accommodate a quintet. There are many other critical areas of the Music Pavilion that will benefit students, faculty and patrons and present opportunities for donors to fund and name.

“The thing is, with such great faculty and programs, the College of Music is attracting an even higher level of student, too,” Kern observed. “It’s really important for the students to have what they need. I love chamber music, I play chamber music, and I think students need to have room to play together without scrounging around for space.”

Kern’s support for the Music Pavilion project is rooted in her desire to help students, and her perspective as a member of the boards of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the MSU Broad Art Museum and the Rotary of Lansing helps her see why the College of Music is so important in the community.

“I’m thrilled about the College of Music, and I feel lucky to live here. The arts in the mid-Michigan area are something to be enthusiastic about, and the College of Music is a huge part of that,” she said. “Concert after concert, we have world-class performances by world-class musicians. I think it’s very exciting.”


If you would like more information about naming opportunities in the Music Pavilion, please contact Senior Director of Development Rebecca Surian at surian@msu.edu or (517) 353-9872.

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