Harvey remembered as composer, teacher

By Jim Tierney
Journal Inquirer
March 9, 2005

For Peter Harvey of Bloomfield, a renowned tenor, conductor, composer, and teacher who touched the lives of thousands of people, performing came naturally, his widow, Cynthia Harvey, said Tuesday.

Peter Harvey
Peter Harvey died Sunday at the age of 59.

From the time he first made an impromptu performance of the song, “Manana,” at age four in a hardware store in Bucksport, Maine, he dazzled audiences.

Cynthia said the song, “Look for the Silver Lining,” best described her husband’s outlook on life. When it came to music, there was little Peter Harvey couldn’t do.

“He was brilliant,” she said. “He lived his life so fully and he was always so enthusiastic and positive. He had the most wonderful sense of humor. Everyone loved him.”

Peter Harvey had a very distinctive voice, Cynthia said.

“He was a diction coach,” she said. “Peter was wonderful at doing impressions of people like Jack Benny. At one time he recorded a message for our answering machine sounding like Jack Benny. So many people couldn’t believe the impersonation. He was from Maine, but didn’t have an accent anymore.”

His voice was so polished, Cynthia said, that some people thought he was British.

Whether it was playing the piano, singing, composing, or teaching, Peter Harvey loved to perform.

“He loved what he was doing so much,” she said. “It made him feel energized.”

Cynthia met her future husband 31 years ago.

“This June would’ve been our 30th wedding anniversary,” she said. “I joined a church choir and they were doing a concert version of “Brigadoon.” A friend of mine said at the time that I must be involved. I always said “Brigadoon” was responsible for us getting together. We say it was love at first anthem.”

Peter and Cynthia Harvey delighted audiences throughout New England with shows tailored for the season, including 31 consecutive Christmas shows at the historic Center Church in Hartford.

One of the couple’s favorite songs to sing, Cynthia said, was “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

Peter Harvey performed nationally, from Hawaii to Florida.

“It’s so heartbreaking because he had so much more to do,” Cynthia said. “I envisioned that he would be performing into his 90s.”

Harvey was a music professor at the Hartford College for Women of the University of Hartford, and the dean of faculty at the Hartford Conservatory of Music.

From 1974 to 1989, he served as music director for St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford. He earned a doctorate of musical arts from the Hartt College of Music in 1980.

He has sung the principal roles in all the standard lyric opera repertoire with companies throughout the Northeast and appeared in or directed dozens of Broadway shows, such as “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Kismet,” and ” Oklahoma.”

Harvey appeared as a soloist with the Connecticut Opera Association, the Hartt College Opera Theater, the New Britain Opera Company, the Hartford Chorale, the Hartford Chamber Orchestra, and the Hartford Symphony Pops Orchestra.

In 1999, Harvey’s “Home for Christmas, 1945” program for Connecticut Public Television and Radio earned him a regional Emmy.

Calling hours are today from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Carmon Windsor Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave., Windsor.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Church, 26 Wintonbury Ave., Bloomfield. Burial will be private at the request of his family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Hartford Conservatory Scholarship Fund and/or to the American Cancer Society, Memorial Dept., P.O. Box 1004, Meriden, CT 06450-1004.