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Press Release

For Immediate Release

Visionary Leadership

Dr. William G. McManus

Concord,MA, June 12, 2008 — The words say it all: Concord Band Music Director Dr. William G. McManus was honored in March with the presentation of one of the most distinguished awards given to music educators, the Visionary Leadership Award. This award speaks to his long and admirable career as a music teacher and advocate for music education in the public schools. The award was bestowed by the Administrators in Music Education, a subset of the MMEA (Massachusetts Music Educators' Association).

As Steve Damon wrote in the MMEA Newsletter, "Viewpoint" in a 2004 article entitled "Raising Our Standard": "Here in Massachusetts, when we speak of music education legends, we need only two words: Bill McManus!"

Dr. McManus, currently the Chair of the Music Education Department at Boston University, was nominated for the award by all the faculty members of his department at B.U. McManus said that he felt extremely honored to have been nominated by his entire department and that gave very special meaning to this award. The award recognizes an individual who has done outstanding work in the field of music administration in the state of Massachusetts. The honor is given to an administrator who "has a strong vision for music education in the Massachusetts schools, has demonstrated leadership in curriculum and program development; and has demonstrated continuing advocacy for music education."

But, more importantly, the award reflects the respect that Dr. McManus has engendered among his colleagues during a long and distinguished career; and their admiration for his outstanding achievements are reflected in the wording on the award plaque, written by Michael LaCava, current MMEA President: "This award is presented to a truly exemplary leader in recognition of his outstanding leadership in school music programs; his career-spanning meritorious service to MMEA and MENC (the Music Educators National Conference) at the district, state, and division levels; and his leadership in music education as a college professor and music educational department chair at B.U. And his work in envisioning and carrying out the Tanglewood II Symposium enriched the profession internationally."

LaCava goes on to write: "His intelligence, humor, and collaborative spirit have gained Bill the deep respect, admiration, and affection of his colleagues. His long career as a teacher and leader resonates with unfailing advocacy for music education for all students."

This is only the most recent in a series of top honors bestowed on Dr. McManus, who has tirelessly worked to advocate the importance of music in the public schools. He had a long and distinguished tenure as Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Belmont public schools, and also taught at Boston Conservatory, Fitchburg State College, and served as President of the Massachusetts Music Educators' Association from 1991 to 1993 and as President of the Eastern Division of MENC: The National Association for Music Education from 1999 to 2001, during which time he presided over a number of conferences which included over a hundred educational sessions and concerts by some of the most outstanding musical ensembles in the country. With a Bachelors degree from Boston Conservatory, and Masters and Doctoral degrees from Boston University, he has been an adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor at music festivals throughout the eastern United States and Europe. In addition, Dr. McManus was previously the coordinator of music programs in school systems in Westborough and Leicester, MA, and in North Syracuse, NY.

While he was MMEA President, he was also the state representative to the Coalition for Music Education, lobbying to include music in the core curriculum of public schools. The MMEA (whose members are more than 1,500 music educators from across the Commonwealth), awarded McManus with the Distinguished Service Award in 1995 (their most prestigious award at the time); part of the wording on this award stated: "This award is presented to Dr. William G. McManus for his dedication to high standards in music education for all students of Massachusetts; for his inspirational leadership as an administrator in our community and our association; for his tireless efforts to influence state government as to the importance of the arts in every child's educational life; for his total commitment to our profession." Powerful words indeed! And, according to all his colleagues, richly deserved.

Dr. McManus also received the Lowell Mason Award from the MMEA and the Conductor of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Instrumental Conductors Association. As if all this were not enough, McManus was the project administrator and driving force behind the Tanglewood II Symposium, a weeklong forum held at Williams College in July of 2007, entitled "Charting the Future: A Symposium on Music Learning for the 21st Century". This symposium (run in conjunction with Boston University's School of Music) was attended by an international group of over thirty music educators and distinguished scholars from other disciplines who all discussed the challenges to music education in the coming century.

The specific goals of the Tanglewood II Symposium were "to cultivate a new understanding of music learning, to examine values of music in culture and its effect on transmission processes, and how schools, public and private at all levels, could meet the decades ahead with a deeper understanding of the role they can play in support a musical future." When asked, "Is there something happening in the field of music education that makes coming together important now?", McManus replied, "The original Tanglewood I Symposium in 1967 addressed music in American society, and we felt there was a need now to look at music more globally. Not too much has been done in this area….and we brought in people we haven't heard from before...sociologists, cognition scientists, conductors, and composers, all talking to us about the future of society and culture. That hasn't really happened since the original Symposium ... This is important because the world is becoming more flat, as they say. The way music is taught in Europe is not the way music is taught in the U.S. or Asia, and I think we can learn a tremendous amount from each other, but we don't spend enough time communicating."

"B.U. Today", Boston University's in-house newsletter, recently talked to McManus about why he believes music education is so important. He replied, "Those of us who are in the field believe in the education of music for the development of the whole person. We believe you have to really understand the art of music in order to grasp meaning from it. Development of the arts, I think, is how you can really measure the success of a culture ..." He further added, "Kids today are all involved with music, they make their own CDs, they make their own music, but they may not participate in music programs in schools. We're looking at the relevance of music education: What is the place of music education in schools? What kind of music should we teach? What kind of experience should we provide for the kids?" The words of a true "visionary" indeed.

Dr. McManus has never been one to "blow his own horn" about these enormous and important achievements, and the abovementioned list of conferences hosted and awards received is only the tip of the iceberg of all his accomplishments. His special gifts, however, are not lost on the innumerable students he has taught and/or mentored over the years. For example, a recently published book, "Conducting With Feeling" on the subject of how a conductor develops feelings for a piece of music and communicates those feelings to an ensemble (a series of interviews with a dozen of the most influential conductors and music educators in the country today) by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. (currently director of bands at MIT, and a former colleague of Dr. McManus at Belmont High School), includes Dr. McManus among the distinguished musicians interviewed.

After a 2006 concert by The Concord Band, a reviewer wrote in The Concord Journal: "The Concord Band is fortunate to have a wonderful musician and educator, Dr. William McManus, as their leader. Clearly, he is a man who possesses the very finest professional qualities of musical and personal integrity, as well as his distinguished reputation as a gifted educator, community leader, and music conductor. The environment that Bill McManus has created is very special, one where members want to play quality literature, and attempt to play it well. That only happens when the person at the top demands those types of standards."

The members of The Concord Band, Dr. McManus's colleagues at Boston University and the Massachusetts Music Educators' Association, and his friends around the country and world absolutely concur on one thing: he is, and continues to be, a visionary, important, and motivating leader and teacher in the world of music, especially band music, and they all agree with his vision that keeping music education in the forefront of students everywhere makes the world a better place. They also agree that few people have undertaken this mission with the success and passion exhibited for Dr. William G. McManus.

Although Dr. McManus plans to "retire" from actively teaching at Boston University at the end of June 2008 and from the Music Director position with The Concord Band at the end of March 2009, he intends to remain active on the music scene: among other things, returning to two of primary passions: playing jazz and composing music. Those who know him are sure he will continue to inspire his colleagues and students to expand music education in every way possible across the state and globally.

By Laura Finkelstein
Assistant Publicist, The Concord Band

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