Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

Message regarding the passing of Burt Kester

The following message was sent to the campus community Wednesday from the Office of the Provost regarding the passing of H. Burton "Burt" Kester. -Ed

To the College Community:
The College of William and Mary sadly notes the passing of H. Burton "Burt" Kester, a lecturer in flute and bassoon who died at his home on Sunday, April 19. 2009.
His musical training started in public school where he initially studied the flute before expanding to bassoon and clarinet.  Thus he began a long career as a professional musician and an expert woodwind doubler.  He attended the University of Maryland as a music major and became a much sought-after flutist and bassoonist with such ensembles as the National Gallery Orchestra, Baltimore theater orchestras, and other professional musical organizations in the Maryland and Washington D.C. areas.  Following military service in the United States Air Force, he toured the country with the national company of Fiddler on the Roof, performing over 400 shows. 
In 1970 Mr. Kester entered The Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) , earning Bachelors and Masters degrees studying under renowned Pittsburgh Symphony bassoonist Arthur Kubey and conducting with NBC Symphony alumnus, Chauncy Kelly.  After a short period of free-lance work in Pennsylvania he was offered the Principal Bassoon position in the Norfolk Symphony, an ensemble which soon became the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
In 1975 Mr. Kester joined the faculty at the College of William and Mary.  In his thirty-four years at the college, he served in a multitude of capacities.  He taught all types of woodwind instruments and led student ensembles that performed for the college community and throughout the Williamsburg area.  He was also a member of the Applied Music Advisory Committee for the Department of Music since its inception.
Mr. Kester is survived by his brother, Art Kester, of Frederick Maryland.  Condolences may be directed to Art and Donna Kester, 5314 Stone Rd., Frederick, MD, 21703.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests expressions of sympathy be made to the Susan Jean Kester Bassoon Scholarship at the Department of Music, College of William and Mary (go to for more information on how to contribute).
The Spring concert of the William and Mary Symphony Orchestra to be held on April 29 at 8:00 p.m. in Phi Beta Kappa Hall was originally intended to honor Burt Kester upon his retirement from the College at the end of the present semester.   This performance will  now be dedicated to him in memoriam.