SOMERS, Wis. – UW-Parkside Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities, Dr. James Kinchen, received the prestigious Morris D. Hayes Award from the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) for his exceptional contribution to choral art. The WCDA board celebrated the honor with Dr. Kinchen on January 16.
“I am honored beyond words to have been chosen for this coveted award,” Dr. James Kinchen said. “It means a great deal to me as recognition of my efforts to build a substantive, qualitative body of work and to serve the choral profession during my three-plus decades here in Wisconsin. The award also has a more personal connection as the man for whom it is named was conductor/clinician of the 1968 Florida All-State Choir in which I sang as an 11th grader!”
The Morris D. Hayes Award was established in 1985 and is reserved for choral musicians of outstanding merit. Awardees must be a current or former resident of Wisconsin who have demonstrated a commitment to choral music – whether through teaching, conducting, or service to the art, and who have made outstanding contributions to choral music in Wisconsin.
Dr. Kinchen received the award during the WCDA annual meeting where he was also invited to be the conductor/clinician for the WCDA All-State Bass Clef Choir. Each year, the all-state choir draws from elite choristers across the state to share a high-impact choral experience under the musical leadership of a highly respected choral artist. He virtually met with students and deployed the latest technologies to sing together.
“My hat’s off to the WCDA for their vision of how to make this happen for these wonderful singers in the midst of a pandemic, as well as to the coordinators and section leaders for putting the necessary structure for success in place,” Dr. Kinchen said. “The virtual environment poses challenges to student and clinician alike, but we had a great time singing, making community, and learning more about many things together.”
In addition to the Hayes honor, Dr. Kinchen was featured in the “Choral Conversation” section of the December Choral Journal, the official publication of the American Choral Directors Association. In the article, Dr. Kinchen talked about his personal life along with discussing his training in classical music, his selection of repertoire, and the importance of African American traditions to his career.