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
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
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
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
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
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."
"Is there something happening in the field of music education that makes
coming together important now?",
"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
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.
"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
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
After a 2006 concert by The Concord Band, a reviewer wrote in The
"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
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
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
For additional information, contact Peter Norton,
Concord Band Publicity.
Visit our website at