Reunion '98 features a special 90th birthday tribute to the music school's professor emeritus and former dean Craig McHenry '30, M.S. '46

Top Drawer

A personal tribute by Mary I. Arlin '61

This year’s Reunion concert, "A Little Night Music," was especially festive as alumni, faculty, and friends gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of Craig McHenry ’30, M.S.’46, retired longtime professor and dean of the School of Music.

Craig came as a student to the Ithaca Conservatory of Music in 1926; he is one of the last links to the College’s founder, W. Grant Egbert (1867–1928). A fine cornet player, he performed with the famed Patrick Conway band while still an undergraduate; he was an equally talented cellist. Following his 1930 graduation, he joined the faculty, mastering the challenging arts of teaching conducting, brass instruments, theory, and sightsinging. For 20 years he conducted the College orchestra. He instituted the annual concerto program, and from 1931 to 1957 was the musical director of numerous musicals and Gilbert and Sullivan operas. [He is pictured here circa 1942 in a photo courtesy of Laura Hammond Burchard '43.]

After Craig was appointed dean of the School of Music in 1957, he was instrumental in revitalizing the curriculum; his philosophy of education recognized the need for thorough musicianship within a well-balanced curriculum. He received an honorary doctorate from the College in 1979 and was the 1995 recipient of the alumni association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dean Arthur E. Ostrander gave opening remarks at the Reunion concert. Marti George Rideout ’70, minister of music and liturgy at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Burke, Virginia, opened the recital with a chorale by Joseph Jongen, five chorale preludes from Bach’s Orgelbüchlein, and Toccata by Theodore Dubois. Glenn Guiles ’75, associate professor of music and chair of the performance department at the Crane School of Music of the State University of New York College at Potsdam, performed Three Dances by Michael Head and Camille Saint-Säens’s Sonata for Oboe and Piano, accompanied on piano by assistant professor of music Diane Birr. James Wallenberg ’74, a violinist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, performed Mozart’s Duo in G Major with Debra Moree, associate professor of viola. The recital concluded with a selection of Broadway tunes sung by soprano Patrice Pickering ’73, who has spent the last nine years performing in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

As the audience joined Pickering and Birr in singing "Poem for Dr. McHenry" by Deborah Erftenbeck ’71 to the tune of High above Cayuga’s Waters, Craig and his wife, Fran, came to the stage and were presented with a bouquet that had been wired to them by Marianne T. Ling ’67 in Guildford, England. Everyone sang "Happy Birthday" as Craig blew out his 90 candles.

As a special birthday gift, we presented Craig with a book of more than 200 letters, reminiscences, mementos, and photographs from alumni and former faculty. To give the audience a sense of the admiration we alumni have for Craig, I read random excerpts from a few of the letters. "Your musicianship, dedication, vitality, and enthusiasm are still a constant inspiration" (Dorothea Haniman Tonnesen ’34). "You did a great job of building the music department into the highly respected School of Music. It reflects your own excellent musicianship, top-drawer standards, scholarship, and executive ability" (Dorothy Voorhees Taylor ’43). "To this day, I still try to imitate your conducting style and technique" (Anthony Cappadonia ’48). "Your kindness and caring to all the music students . . . made a difference. That was the attitude I took into my teaching career" (Robert Parada ’59). "The name Craig McHenry is synonymous with the Ithaca College School of Music that I first knew and loved" (Roland Bentley, M.S. ’61). "I was always impressed with your genuine concern for all of the students in the School of Music and with the obvious love you had for your job. (Your attendance at all those hundreds of student recitals was certainly proof of that!)" (Henry Slechta ’64). "Thank you for your high standards, which we as students aspired to meet" (David ’75 and Diane Schorge ’75 Mathie).

As a College and as a music school, we are indebted to Craig. The special 90th birthday recital was a very small token of our sincere appreciation for all that he has done for the School of Music and for each of its students.  


Professor Mary I. Arlin '61 teaches music theory in the School of Music.

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Web pages created by Andrejs Ozolins. 19 Oct 1999