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WCME to Name Library After Morris D. Hayes

RELEASED: May 2, 2005

Morris D. Hayes

1983 photo by TLTDC,
UW-Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE — The Wisconsin Center for Music Education — a state-of-the-art center that will provide music teachers, students and community members with innovative music education programs and resources — will name one of its libraries after a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor emeritus of music.

The Center, which is slated to open in July in Waunakee, will include the Morris D. Hayes Choral Library, named after the man who served as the director of choral activities at UW-Eau Claire from 1966-1987.

"I deeply appreciate the honor that has been bestowed upon me," Hayes said of the library, which is being built by the Wisconsin School Music Association. "I owe it all to those talented students who I had the privilege to work with at UW-Eau Claire. Their preparation before entering the university can be credited to the excellence of the music programs in the public schools."

A state and national leader in music education during his years at UW- Eau Claire, Hayes is donating his personal music collection to the Center, which is the first facility of its kind in the country. The donated collection includes photographs; recognition awards; tapes of lectures; copies of professional journals; a resume of professional activities; an anthology of the conducted repertoire of Hayes; and "Salute to Morris Hayes," an album created for Hayes' retirement that includes letters from former students and colleagues, and a CD of the Alumni Chorus that performed during his retirement celebration. Additional items also may be donated, Hayes said.

"Naming the library after Morris Hayes is a fitting tribute to someone who has had widespread impact on hundreds of students who are now passing on his love of choral music to new generations of musicians all over Wisconsin," said Marcia Van Beek, a 1973 UW-Eau Claire graduate who was part of the choral program while a student. "He's someone who because UW-Eau Claire has the largest music program in the state really made a difference in promoting successful choral programs in the '60s through the '80s."

Hayes, who started well-known groups such as The Singing Statesmen, brought UW-Eau Claire's choral program to national and international acclaim, said Ronald Keezer, a graduate assistant to Hayes and later a long-time member of UW-Eau Claire's music faculty. When Hayes came to UW-Eau Claire in 1966, the choral program involved 85 students and two groups. When he retired in 1987, there were seven groups involving more than 600 students.

"Morrie's students would go to competitions and they'd wipe out clubs from Harvard and other prestigious schools," said Keezer, noting that Hayes also served in leadership positions in organizations such as the ACDA American Choral Directors Society, where he served as president from 1972-74. "Everybody knew him. When I'd go to a convention with him it was like being with a star because everyone would greet him and want to be near him. There was a tremendous network of people that he knew."

In addition to working with UW-Eau Claire students, Hayes worked with other talented young people in a variety of ways, such as serving as director of the Wisconsin High School Honors Choir. Hayes also was selected by People to People International and the U.S. State Department to form the first national youth chorale to perform in the People's Republic of China.

"He was the most prestigious choral director that the state of Wisconsin has ever had," Mary Keezer, Haye's first graduate assistant, said of Hayes. "He made people do things or believe they could do things that they never thought was possible. He was an outstanding teacher with an unbelievable ability to inspire people. His students are now all over the United States, with many of them serving as big-time choral directors in big-time places."

Hayes prided himself on communicating the essence of each piece of choral music to his students, Van Beek said. "He loved his students and through his love of choral music taught them not only the mechanics of conducting but the importance of emotionally communicating with the audience in the performance of each piece of music," she said.

The Wisconsin Center for Music Education symbolizes the importance of music and the arts in the schools, said Eric Runestad, WSMA executive director. Given the growth of performing arts facilities in Wisconsin, it's appropriate that a center be created with a statewide mission dedicated to music education, he said.

Music should be an important part of school because it helps create a desire to study and appreciate the cultural aspects of life, Hayes said.

"The discipline promotes excellence in academic studies and a desire to expand the horizons of a better life," said Hayes, who now lives in California but is regularly in touch with former students. "The seeking and developing of all kinds of talent in our schools should be a basic responsibility of educators. Slow, sure progress to develop new ideas, new concepts and new attitudes are necessary and vital to the arts. Performance, achievement and excellence enables all of us to excel in all walks of life."

Through gifts to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, a number of UW-Eau Claire alumni and friends contributed toward the creation of the Morris D. Hayes Choral Library.



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