A revered member of the FPU community, Emeritus Music Faculty Larry Warkentin, D.M.A., 80, died April 5, 2021. A composer, pianist, choral conductor, church musician and educator, he served Fresno Pacific from 1962-2002 as music professor, also chairing the department, the Humanities Division and the Faculty Session.
Larry and his wife, Paula, a retired elementary school teacher and resource specialist, were married in 1962, the same year he joined the faculty. Other survivors include children Richard Warkentin and Rhonda (Warkentin BA ’92) Langley, son-in-law Silas Langley (BA ’93) and grandchildren Peter and Joseph Langley. The family is planning a virtual commemoration April 19 and an-person ceremony this summer. Check caringbridge.org/visit/larrywarkentin for developing information.
A prolific composer, Larry’s hymn tunes are included in Worship Hymnal, Sing Alleluia, Hymnal a Worship Book and Covenant Hymnal. His most frequently performed work is the Fresno Pacific University Song, which has been sung at graduation for more than 30 years.
Other highlights include:
His first composition for large ensemble, The Word, an oratorio for orchestra, soloists and choir, was presented by the Fresno Oratorio Society in 1973. In 1978, Larry was commissioned by the Mennonite World Conference to write an orchestral work for its international assembly. In 1984 his Academic Variations for piano won first place in the California Teacher’s Association state competition, and his hymn God of the Eagle won first place in the 1988 Winnipeg College hymn contest.
In 1987 Larry’s folk opera Crazy Quilt was staged at FPU, as was his one-act opera Practice Makes Perfect in 1996. This is a Holy Day, for organ, trumpets and choir was presented on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation satellite television broadcast. In 1998, Larry paid tribute to his hometown of Reedley, CA, with the four-movement Sonata No. 2 for Piano.
Articles by Larry have appeared in the Journal of the American Choral Directors Association, the Latin American Music Review, the Christian Leader and Direction Journal. For seven years he was the classical music critic for The Fresno Bee. He has also written several books of poetry.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) honored Larry with an award each year for more than a decade. He received the FPU President’s Distinguished Faculty Award and has been recognized by Tabor College as an outstanding alumnus. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded him four summer stipends permitting him to study at Columbia University, The University of Texas and Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Larry earned his B.A. at Tabor College, M.A. at California State University Fresno, and doctorate at the University of Southern California.
Larry and Paula established charitable trusts to benefit the Culture and Arts Center and the FPU Foundation.