Dr. William Hoyt Safrit, M.A.

Dr. William Hoyt Safrit, M.A.
First Name: 
Dr. William
Last Name: 
Hoyt Safrit, M.A.
Main Title: 
Associate Professor Emeritus of Music

William Hoyt Safrit (June 18, 1923-January 5, 2000), retired music professor, was born in China Grove, NC, to Gertie Estelle Foil Safrit and Albert Floyd Safrit. He had one sister, Frances Safrit Chapman, who resides in Livingston, NF, and one brother, Albert Foil Safrit (deceased).

Safrit began his music career at the age of five, singing O Holy Night at a Christmas Eve Service held at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in China Grove. At age six, he served as a boy soprano at Catawba College (1929-1936). He attended China Grove High School, where he was graduated in 1942. He received a performance certificate for Opera Studies in 1946-47. Safrit spent the summers of 1948, 1963, 1970, and 1973 at the Manhattan School of Music (NY) and 1947 and the summer of 1949 teaching in Marseille, France. From 1948-49 he taught at Appalachian High School and Grade School.

During World War II, Safrit was in military service from 1943-46 with the 44th Engineer's Combat Battalion, serving in Europe. While stationed at Fort Belvoir, VA, he sang under the direction of the great maestro Dr. Jean Morel at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. He was tenor soloist at Chester Cathedral, Chester, England, in Bach's Magnificat in D, under the baton of maestro Sir John Babarollie.

Safrit earned a B.A. from Appalachian State University in 1950 and accepted an appointment to serve as assistant professor of music. In 1953, he earned an M.S. from the university. From 1953 to 1960, he engaged in private study with Walter Golde in New York and in North Carolina. In addition, he studied with Coe Glade in New York from 1958-72. In 1962, he taught in a private studio in Salisbury, NC.

While at Appalachian, Safrit served on various committees and took part in many departmental activities, including recital and reception committee (chairperson, 1950-62); NATS national meetings at Appalachian (co-chairperson, 1952, 1956); music library committee (1952-1962); Appalachian Chorale (director, 1950-1970); Women's Glee Club (director 1968-70 and 1973); Opera Workshop (director, 1969-73); musical director and vocal consultant for Little Abner, 1969-73; performance seminar and department recitals coordinator (1953-73); and committee for symphony aria and concerto competition (1977). From 1969-73 he served the community as judge for Spring Festival.

He also had served in state activities such as NATS, member and judge for 35 years; Federation of Music Clubs, 1975 last judging; MENC, 25 years; and Choral Directors of America, 20 years. Regarding national organizations, Safrit was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda; the Metropolitan Opera, New York; the Metropolitan Opera, Atlanta, GA; and NATS.

Safrit's honors and awards included soloist, boys' voice competition, winner for four years, National Symphony, Washington, D.C. (1932-36); winner of the North Carolina Symphony Artist Competition (1949-53); voice award from Vocal Studios at the Marseilles Opera in France (1947); Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teaching from Appalachian (1978-79); Who's Who in Music and Musicians (Nov. 1975); honored by St. Mark's Lutheran Church (Dec. 1975); honored by the music department of the Lutheran Church of America and asked to be a consultant for the new liturgy in the new hymnal of 1978-79 (1976-77); and honored by Appalachian with the W. Hoyt Safrit Endowed Music Scholarship in 1992.

Safrit's professional accomplishments and performances, of which he was very proud, included the following:

  • 1946-47 & Summer 1949 Marseilles Opera. Sang leading tenor, male lead in DonGiovanni, Aida, Manon, and Carmen.
  • 1950-54 Mr. Norman Cordan (Bass-Metropolita Opera) had an opera development program each week from Chapel Hill, NC. Appalachian was in this program, which received a write-up in the national magazine Opera News.
  • 1953-54 Member of the Grass Roots Opera of North Carolina. Tenor male leads in Carmen, Don Giovanni, and Martha.
  • 1953-54 Member of the Greensboro Opera. Sang lead tenor.
  • 1953-63 (Summers) Served as music director for the outdoor dram Horn in the West at the Daniel Boone Theater, Boone, NC.
  • 1953-70 Director of music for the First Baptist Church in Boone, NC.
  • 1955-60 Held lead in Martha, La Traviata, Carmen, Faust, and Don Giovanni.
  • 1956-67 Signed with Community Concerts Agency of New York. Performed in concerts in cities including Petersburg, VA; Richmond, VA; Williamsburg, VA; Jacksonville, FL; Charleston, SC; Summerville, SC; Salisbury (Catawba College), NC; and Banner Elk (Lees-McRae College), NC.

He was director of music at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in his hometown, China Grove, NC, where his career began. The following paragraph honoring W. Hoyt Safrit has appeared in the St. Mark's Messenger (church newsletter) on two different occasions:

"Throughout the South and Eastern Seaboard, our Mr. Safrit is known for his oratorio, concerts and opera appearances, as well as conductor of choral groups, clinics and opera; but throughout the membership of St. Mark's, Hoyt is known and loved for his warmth, his talents, his patience and understanding, and most of all his willingness to share his time and ability with us. For this, we are indeed very grateful!"

Sources: Personal correspondence, Appalachian State University files and St. Mark's Messenger.

-Dr. Richard D. Howe