Alum Honored for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music

  • News Photo 4179
    Buryl Red receives a standing ovation during the presentation of the Award for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music, given by Baylor's Center for Christian Music Studies during the 2007 Alleluia! Church Music Conference July 17-20 at Baylor.
  • News Photo 4178
    Buryl Red with the Award for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music, given by Baylor's Center for Christian Music Studies during the 2007 Alleluia! Church Music Conference July 17-20 at Baylor.
July 20, 2007

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Buryl Red, a 1957 Baylor University church music graduate and world-renowned musical director of The CenturyMen, was honored with the Award for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music, given by Baylor's Center for Christian Music Studies during the 2007 Alleluia! Church Music Conference July 17-20 at Baylor.

The award recognizes a Baylor graduate who has contributed uniquely and significantly to some aspect of the broad scope of church music ministry. The award can be given for cumulative lifetime achievement or a singular contribution.

"Dr. Buryl Red's influence on the field of church music has been significant, and Baylor is proud of his many contributions, in particular his musicals from the 1970's that set the standard for this genre. His collaborations with Ragan Courtney, such as 'Celebrate Life' and 'Bright New Wings,' are superb works that have stood the test of time," said Dr. Randall Bradley, professor of church music and director of Baylor's Center for Christian Music Studies. "Buryl's ongoing work with the CenturyMen has kept him connected to church music throughout the years. When the history of the last half of the 20th century is written, Buryl Red is a name that will surely appear."

Born in Little Rock, Ark., Red earned his bachelor's degree in church music from Baylor in 1957. While a student, he was involved in the Baylor Religious Hour Choir and the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national professional music fraternity. He also received a degree from Yale University in 1961 and currently resides in New York City.

Red has been described by The Washington Post as "uncommonly creative," with his musical works as a composer, conductor, producer and arranger heard in such diverse venues as Carnegie Hall, "Saturday Night Live" and thousands of schools, churches and theaters around the world. He had more than 1,600 published compositions and arrangements, produced more than 2,500 recordings and supervised, composed or arranged the music for several hundred shows, documentaries and musical specials for network and cable television.

Several of Red's choral works including "Celebrate Life" and the first performing edition of Pergolesi's Magnificat are considered landmarks in their fields. He served as executive record producer for some of the most widely used music textbooks in the United States, including the new "Silver Burdett Making Music" series and was honored with the inclusion of his well-known song, "In Remembrance," in The African-American Heritage Hymnal published in 2001.

He also has been honored with many civic and professional awards and degrees.

Red serves as musical director of The CenturyMen, an auditioned men's chorus of professional musicians who are directors of music in Baptist churches across America and from around the world.

Red received the award during the annual conference banquet on July 19 in Barfield Drawing Room in Baylor's Bill Daniel Student Center. In addition, a permanent plaque will be on display in the School of Music, so future church music students at Baylor will "know who walked these halls before them," said Dr. Terry W. York, associate professor of Christian ministry and church music at Baylor and George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

"We feel that it is important for our Church Music students at Baylor to understand the story of the ministry for which they are preparing. We want them to have a reverence for the heritage that is theirs," York said. "We believe that the Award for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music symbolizes that story. We want our students to be aware of those persons whose names must be mentioned when the story is told.

"At another level, we want our Church Music students to be aware of how Baylor University has contributed to the story of church music ministry," he added.

For more information about the award, contact Bradley at Baylor's Center for Christian Music Studies at (254) 710-6522.

Below is the text of the Award for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music Citation presented to Buryl Red, July 19, 2007, and read by Dr. Terry W. York, associate professor of Christian ministry and church music at Baylor and George W. Truett Theological Seminary:

"An important facet of leadership is the ability to inspire. Inspiring leadership begins with being believable as a person. It then moves to the ability to cast a vision of something new, not just an improvement on what exists, but something new. The inspiring leader surprises those he or she would lead by exciting their imaginations and encouraging them to believe that they can do it, whatever "it" may be. Buryl Red has been and is that kind of a leader among church musicians, beginning with Baptists, but not with Baptists, alone. He has shown us new things and by his actions inspired us to believe we, too, can do and achieve those new things.

"Another important facet of leadership is the ability to call forth excellence. The name Buryl Red evokes images of excellence, memories of excellence, and expectations of excellence. Uncompromising and indefatigable is Buryl's commitment to excellence in stewardship of God-given giftedness. Those who would work with him must take on that same commitment. His leadership teaches, by example, that excellence within our giftedness has a place on the list of offerings that includes a pure heart, the widow's mite, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

"In 1969, the Radio and Television Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention established an auditioned men's chorus of professional musicians who were directors of music in Baptist churches across America and from around the world. The chorus was called the CenturyMen. Not long after this group was established, Buryl Red became their conductor. This is an elite, highly skilled, highly talented group that reflects Buryl's leadership traits of inspiration and excellence. How do I know they're that good? Well, I've heard them sing many times and...I auditioned for the CenturyMen about 30 years ago and didn't make it in.

"The CenturyMen, under Buryl Red's leadership, have performed in several nationally televised venues and their recordings have been Dove and Grammy Awards finalists. This group's stunning commitment to excellence in musicianship and discipleship has inspired audiences from small Texas churches to the great performance halls of the world.

"When I contacted the officers of the CenturyMen simply to inform them that we were going to honor Buryl tonight, they immediately responded that they would like to be present. Indeed, after this banquet, those members of the CenturyMen who could in any way make adjustments to their schedules will perform a concert of gratitude. Tonight is not an officially scheduled performance of the CenturyMen, but you will see and hear their love and admiration for our honoree.

"In many ways, the CenturyMenhave been a part of the pulse and conscience of Baptist Church Music Ministry. To look at them, gathered, is to see our friends and fellow ministers of music. To hear them sing is to hear a faint echo of heaven, to be reminded that our work as ministers of music is indeed to encourage and lead those who are marching to Zion.

"In 1972, Broadman Press published the musical Celebrate Life, book and lyrics by Ragan Courtney, musicby our honoree, Buryl Red. It is, indeed, a classic. It is the apex of the Christian Musical genre. Nearly twenty years later, when The Baptist Hymnal, 1991 was published it contained For Thine is the Kingdom and In Remembrance, taken directly from the musical. Further, we discovered that Celebrate Life had brought new life to one of the great Easter carols within the hymnal's pages. For who, having sung or heard Celebrate Life, can begin to sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today, without hearing "He is alive and I love him, I am alive and He love's me....ah...." rushing to our heads and hearts as introduction? Still in print, Celebrate Life continues to be performed, inspiring followers and seekers, even now, a quarter of a century after its first publication. Celebrate Life is certainly not Buryl's only exemplary choral work. One could easily make the case that his 1973 musical It's Cool in the Furnace had equal impact in the world of children's choir music. Yes It's Cool in the Furnace is his, as are the musicals Hello World (1969), Lightshine (1972), Beginnings (1974), The Weaver (with Ken Medema), and many others.

'Buryl, your exemplary leadership in these ways, and many others, has brought new life to many of our hymns and our favorite passages of scripture (Let there be, let there be, let there be light...and there was, and it was good. And the morning stars sang together, and the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy) and your music gives us the incipit of the stellar song.

"You brought new life to our choirs and our congregations. No matter how good our choirs are, we look up ahead and there you are out in the lead with the CenturyMen. No matter how creative we might become in the production of seasonal musicals and other major works, we look up and there you are with Celebrate Life. That's leadership. That's excellence in leadership. Your leadership has given hope and courage to at least two generations of ministers of music. Buryl, you have burst a few wineskins along the way, ( I mean even if we decided not to perform "We Are Three Kings", we had to at least think about it)...you have burst a few wineskins along the way, but in the resultant spray and outpouring, you have baptized all of us, no matter our denomination, into a newness of life: church music with imagination.

"My dear brothers and sisters in Christ and in Church Music, will you join me in welcoming to this podium, the quiet conscience of our craft, Dr. Buryl Red."

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