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The Music Man: After decades of service, Michael Hanes says goodbye
Hanes pours over the score for a musical piece and raises his baton high to have the ensemble hold a note for a specific period of time during rehearsal Monday at Altgeld Hall.


CARBONDALE - Whether or not most Southern Illinoisans realize it, the 40-year musical career of Michael Hanes has touched their lives.

From those who have played with the Marching Salukis at SIUC sporting events spanning three decades to the thousands more whose spirits were lifted by the band's anthems.

From band directors of nearly every area public school who count him either as a mentor or peer to the countless students Hanes directly affected as a leading SIUC music professor and band camp instructor.

For anyone who has enjoyed the high culture of McLeod's Summer Playhouse musicals or the pop culture of an infectious McDonald's jingle composed by one of his commercially successful students.

It becomes clear that the influence of this SIUC director of bands will remain legendary, long after his retirement in August.

"They're going to be huge shoes to fill," said School of Music director Robert Weiss. "Mike has been an icon in the School of Music for decades. It's hard to imagine the school without him. It's going to be a different place without Mike Hanes around."

Weiss says Hanes' career has been extraordinary not only in quality, but in quantity. Until he resigned as director of marching band in 1996 after more than two decades, Hanes was performing the work of three School of Music faculty members. When he retires, his current work as director of bands and percussion ensemble will become two positions.

"I'm honored they're able to split my job into two jobs," he says, but Hanes is modest on the impact he's had on students and the community alike.

"Most teachers have that privilege," he says. "The things I was chosen to do were things I just naturally had an enthusiasm and love for. I just feel very lucky in that regard."

Right place, right time

Hanes, a Millikin graduate originally from Decatur, intended to stay at SIUC only one year when he arrived on the campus in 1964 as a music graduate student.

He then planned to go back to teaching high school band. However, SIUC offered opportunities he couldn't pass up.

The first life-changing event was love at first sight with the lead in "My Fair Lady." At that time, Mary Jo Hanes, a Carbondale institution in local theater, was a voice student playing Eliza Doolittle.

"When we announced we were going to be married, people didn't even know we were dating. We were both so active. Our dates started late at night because we were both involved in rehearsals," says Hanes, who will celebrate his 40th anniversary with Mary Jo this September.

Professionally, Hanes began to work with the Marching Salukis as an assistant to Donald Canedy, the band's director at that time. When Canedy left for another position, Hanes took over the post in 1965.

"Suddenly I was teaching college," says Hanes, who went on to become a full professor. "I was just in the right place at the right time."

Hanes led the Marching Salukis to recognition on more than a few occasions including the band's nationally televised performance at the 1982 World Series in St. Louis.

Hanes' only time away from SIUC was to serve in the Vietnam War for three years as a band conductor.

"He's an icon in the department," says Thomas Bough, the Marching Salukis' current director. "He's dedicated his whole life here and it's inspiring."

Among the many other ways Hanes shaped music in Southern Illinois was his involvement co-producing and musically directing the SIUC summer playhouse for more than 20 years, and conducting for the University Wind Ensemble for the last 30 years.

His tireless efforts have netted him several awards including "Outstanding Teacher" and "Outstanding Alumnus."

"I'm a person who likes to be involved." Hanes says. "SIU certainly allowed me the opportunity to grow. It allowed me to wear so many different hats. You can't get burned out with the kids and the kind of people you work with. You get older and the students stay the same age. It's a good thing."

Concurrently, Hanes has always been active in the community including adjudicating for area bands, parades and festivals, as well as acting as a consultant for professionals and music education programs internationally.

"He's one of the most valuable liaisons we have with area directors. They not only respect him as a band director, they come back and ask his advice, invite him to critique their bands and constantly ask him to judge competitions," Weiss says. "In fact, he's already been asked to direct the All State Honor Band in January. That's the top band in the state. Quite often they bring someone in from outside Southern Illinois, someone nationally known."

A farewell note

Monday evening, Hanes will conduct his final concert with the University Wind Ensemble, one of the many SIUC music traditions he helped develop to acclaim.

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After a recent two-hour rehearsal, Hanes tells the 55 brass, woodwind and percussion players who make up the ensemble: "I don't want to see anyone sleeping in the halls. I want to go up and down the halls and hear my music being played constantly. Find the time. See you tonight (at another rehearsal)."

The students take Hanes' drive for perfection to heart.

"The first thing Mike Hanes ever told me was if you're going to make a mistake, make a big one and then don't ever do it again," remembers Timothy Carr, of his fourth-grade band camp experience with Hanes.

"Then I screwed up and played right in the middle of the rest. He said, 'Good! Now, don't ever do it again.'"

Carr, now a trumpeter with the ensemble and School of Music senior, sees Hanes as a role model.

"Mike Hanes embodies all this university wants to be," he says. With Hanes at the helm, every university music student has an opportunity to play and to be challenged, Carr says.

"It's the broad variety of music, beyond Sousa," that attracted Carr to the ensemble and the chance to "take on pieces that are sometimes above the level of the ensemble."

Whether listening to the wind ensemble, percussion studio or marching band, fresh and original sounds always balance the traditional.

Monday's performance includes the narrative work "Evolution," by noted American composer Dana Wilson, which traces Western music from Gregorian chants to rock. Another work, commissioned in part by the SIUC band department, will have one of its first stage performances at Monday's concert: David R. Gillingham's "Lifesongs," which includes a 100-voice chorus.

While this will be Hanes' last performance, he says he will still be active in the community and music department.

"I feel very good about what I've been able to do here," he says. "It makes it easier to leave, but maybe it will be to hard my keep fingers out."

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