Oklahoma Baptist University

Division of Music to Honor William David Brown May 3

The Oklahoma Baptist University Division of Music will present the 2004 Distinguished Music Alumni Award to William David Brown, class of 1967, at its Annual Spring Banquet 6:30 p.m., May 3, in the universityís Geiger Center.

In addition to Brownís recognition, the banquet will feature scholarship and award announcements for the 2004-2005 academic year, an homage to OBU by graduating seniors, and dinner.

Brown, a native of Shawnee, graduated from Shawnee High School in 1963 and enrolled at OBU as a music education major with a principal in voice. He was given a "future teacher" scholarship by the Shawnee Classroom Teachers Association to attend OBU if he agreed to teach for at least five years. Of that commitment, he says "I'm sure glad I loved teaching so I could fulfill that contract!"

He was an active member of the Bison Glee Club, involved in planning the ensembleís trips and tours. He sang with their quartet, the "Fallen Angels," from 1965-1967, and served as the Glee Club's assistant conductor and president during the 1966-67 academic year.

While a student at OBU he received several awards for excellence in singing, including the Segal Voice Award.

At the encouragement of his voice teacher, Francis Spurlock, he attended the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony in Eureka Springs, Ark., on a full scholarship, and worked there under the direction of Dr. Isaac van Grove, a well-known opera conductor from the "golden age" of American opera, 1940-60.

After graduation, he worked in Laverne, Okla., public schools, teaching grades 1-12 as the first voice teacher in the system.

In 1968 he married Sharon Lawrence, OBU class of 1968. They have one son, Richard, born in 1972.

In 1969 the Browns moved to Kentucky to pursue graduate work at the University of Louisville. While there, he taught junior and senior high school students, and held a variety of roles and conducting positions in The Stephen Foster Story, a summer outdoor musical held yearly in Bardstown, Ky., on the grounds of My Old Kentucky Home State Park. In addition, he served as tenor soloist with the Louisville Bach Society, the Kentucky Opera Association, and the Louisville Chorus.

From 1970-1978 he was responsible for a complete choral program at Seneca High School. In 1978, he was selected to serve as a founding faculty member of a new Youth Performing Arts School.

"For this new concept, a magnet program, I designed and implemented the vocal program and wrote curriculum according to specialized needs of our auditioned students," said Brown. "Our students 'shared their day' with Manual High School which has now become the most prestigious school in the state."

In 1985, he became conductor and music director of The Stephen Foster Story (http://www.stephenfoster.com) in Bardstown. Following that summerís season in Bardstown, he led the company in a three-week tour of some of Japanís largest cities..

He was appointed to serve as a member of writing committee to design assessment questions in the arts and humanities for statewide education reform in Kentucky, one of the leaders in the nation.

"Our task was to write rich assessments of discreet tasks reflecting studentsí skills learned in arts/humanities courses," said Brown. "We saw that our only way to justify these areas' inclusion in the curriculums was to have them included in the state assessment or lose them all together."

He was a founding director of choir and voice faculty for the Kentucky Governorís School for the Arts, a three-week intensive, residential program for talented singers from all around the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This program is now included in the YPAS College/Career Day to provide scholarship opportunities.

His choirs have performed for a gubernatorial inauguration, legislative sessions, special events for state government, and have sung twice in Carnegie Hall, New York City.

In fall, 1997, he again led The Stephen Foster Story, now renamed Stephen Foster - the Musical, on a three-week tour of Japan, again to sell-out crowds.

He retired from the classroom in May 2001, after 34 years. He continues to teach private voice, lead workshops, and serve as adjudicator at festivals and assessment events.

He has received a number of significant awards, including High School Music teacher of the Year (presented by the Kentucky Music Educator's Association) the award for Choral Excellence (awarded by the Kentucky A.C.D.A.), first the Faculty Award from, then member of the Hall of Fame at Manual High School, only the third non-graduate of the school included.

"I have had a wonderful time in my career, and am satisfied that my students, both private voice students and in schools, are still singing in church and community choirs, music theaters, on cruise ships, in regional opera companies and several are at the Metropolitan Opera."

For more information, please contact the Division of Music at 405-878-2306 or via email at music@okbu.edu.

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