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Hayes School of Music Receives Infusion of Gifts

052101tubamarchbnd_dl.jpgBy Jane Nicholson

BOONE–Music students can’t fully realize their talents if they play on substandard instruments, says William Harbinson, dean of Appalachian State University’s Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music.

An infusion of contributions and pledges to the music school will dramatically change the school’s ability to operate, he says.

Contributions throughout the year, including a recent $10 million gift from Concord resident Mariam Cannon Hayes, have helped upgrade the school’s musical instrument inventory.

The university’s board of trustees have named the school the Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music in honor of Hayes’ longstanding support of the music school.

“Some of these instruments were built during the Korean War,” Harbinson said of instruments that have been played by hundreds of students. Harbinson himself played on some of the school’s brass instruments currently in use when he was a student at Appalachian in 1975. “With operating budgets shrinking, we have been unable to repair and replace instruments,” he said.

Musical instruments are available for students who can’t afford their own, or who need specialty instruments, such as tubas, bassoons, string basses or baritone saxophones that are important components of wind ensembles and orchestras.

“You put a professional-level instrument in students’ hands and they will know how good they can be,” he said.

The music school replaced two Steinway grand pianos, a full set of tympani and various brass and woodwind instruments with the Hayes gift and money from other sources.

“This (gift) takes a huge dent out of our instrument inventory problem,” Harbinson said.

A portion of the Hayes gift will fund the Mariam Cannon Hayes Graduate String Quartet for the 2001-02 academic year. Graduate assistantships totaling $6,000 each will be awarded to four string players enrolling in the Hayes School of Music’s master’s degree program. In return, the students will perform with the university orchestra, in solo and chamber performances, and represent the school in performances across the state and region.

In addition Hayes has endowed an Appalachian Partners in Excellence Scholarship in the Hayes School of Music.

AppalPIE Scholarships provide music majors $2,500 a year for four years of study. An average of four to six students a year receive the scholarships made possible by a number of donors.

“This will greatly increase the visibility of our string program and raise the performance quality of our orchestra,” Harbinson said. String players are a hot commodity for most music programs across the state, and competition for those students is great.

A $220,000 pledge from retired music faculty Elmer and Lynn White will create the largest endowed scholarship program in the music school, according to Harbinson.

Elmer White taught trumpet at Appalachian for 32 years before retiring in 1995.

Lynn White taught woodwinds for 35 years before retiring in December 2000.

The endowment will fund The Elmer and Lynn White Wind Instrument Scholarship, a $3,000 award that will be given by audition each year to the best incoming freshman wind instrument major. The scholarship will be renewable.

The Whites said good planning and frugal living made the gift possible.

“Even lowly paid professors in the arts can amass considerable wealth through self discipline, frugal living and planning,” they said. Rather than indulge in “immediate gratification” of material goods upon retirement, they chose to endow the scholarship, which recognizes musical excellence.

“As part of our financial good fortune, we decided to assist the School of Music in its pursuit of excellence,” the Whites said. “These scholarship recipients will be role models in the many ensembles of the School of Music as well as in their solo recital performances each year.”

“They always have had a real love for and a commitment to undergraduate performance,” Harbinson said of the couple. “Combined, they have given more than 60 years of teaching to Appalachian. To give financially like this, after you have already given so many years to an institution as a faculty member, is remarkable.”

The gift will be a significant addition to the School of Music’s scholarship program, Harbinson said. In fact, it will be the second-largest scholarship awarded to music majors.

Music has always been significant in the Whites’ lives. They met at Youngstown State University where Elmer White was an assistant professor of music and director of bands, and Lynn White was a student. They have performed together professionally in various orchestras and ensembles throughout the eastern United States throughout the past four decades.

Although retired, they plan to continue to perform as guest soloists and with various ensembles. They also plan to attend classical and jazz concerts throughout the United States.

The music school’s new recording studio nears completion thanks to a pledge from Charlotte businessman Robert F. “Bob” Gilley to raise or give $250,000 to the project in the next five years. As a result of his pledge, the Appalachian State University Foundation loaned $250,000 to the music school project so completion won’t be delayed. Gilley has a bachelor’s degree (1957) and master’s degree (1958) in music from Appalachian.

A number of other donors and foundations have contributed more than $250,000 to various scholarship endowments and to the School of Music’s recording studio project.

“Private contributions are so critical to our program,” Harbinson said. “We can not be a great music school without it, no matter how hard we work.”

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Picture Caption: At $3,400 each, a concert-grade tuba is out of the price range of many music performance majors. Private gifts to the Appalachian State University Hayes School of Music are being used to purchase specialty instruments such as tubas, bassoons, and baritone saxophone. The instruments are important components of wind ensembles, orchestras or marching bands. (Appalachian photo by Jane Nicholson)