Wayne A. Hanmer, a choral music teacher in the Gwinn Area Community Schools, and Mary Trolla, retired choral teacher from Negaunee High School, were the recipients of the 1997 U. P. Choral Leadership Award.
Wayne Hanmer is a native of Caspian, Michigan. He earned his bachelor's degree in music education from Northern Michigan University, specializing in vocal performance and conducting. He has taught in the Gwinn Area Community Schools since 1982, fostering a strong vocal music program at all grade levels. The effect has been a remarkable increase of interest in choral music.
Mr. Hanmer has developed select choirs at Gilbert and K. I. Sawyer elementary schools. He sustained the high school choral program while teaching full time at the elementary level and developed Une Voce, a chorus to encourage boys' continued interest in singing. He directs Christmas and spring programs every year. His choirs and soloists consistently receive first division ratings at district and state competitions, and he has adjudicated students' vocal performances throughout the state. He facilitates his students' singing in the U. P. Youth Choir and State Honors Choir. His Concert Choir represented Michigan in Paris during the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
Outside of school, he served as assistant director of the Marquette County Boys' Choir for three years and developed the Gwinn Community Festival of Song, an event involving local and guest choirs and conductors which raises scholarship funds. He revitalized the chapel choir program at K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base to a level where fifty singers performed Handel's Messiah and various cantatas. He has served as a church choral director and cantor at other area churches, and has directed the Senior Choir at Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette since 1990.
Mr. Hanmer's personal development as a bass soloist has paralleled his career as an educator. Soloists are important to classical choral presentation, and for seventeen years the Marquette Choral Society has benefited from his superb bass voice and musicianship. He has soloed with the Choral Society more than any other person, a total of 25 times and in nearly a half of all the performances. Most notably, he sang the Chief Seattle role in the world premiere of Dave Brubeck's Earth is Our Mother in performance with Brubeck in 1992. In 1994 Mr. Hanmer sang another world premiere, the Gustav Gundlach Mass in A with the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In 1996 he traveled to the Czech Republic, Vienna and Budapest with the Michigan Technological University Chamber Singers and the Cabrillo College Chorus from Aptos, California as featured soloist for this Gundlach work.
Mary Trolla has been a leader in choral music in the Upper Peninsula for over 40 years. A native of Wakefield, Michigan, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Northern Michigan University. Her professional career in music education began in Negaunee in 1956, continued in Wakefield, and resumed in Negaunee, where she retired in 1986. Her teaching career also extended to the college level at Northern, where she taught a continuing education course.
Her school choirs consistently received top ratings at regional and state levels. She served as secretary of the U. P. School Music Association and was the organizer and manager of the District 14 Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA). She served as clinician for numerous school and church music workshops.
Miss Trolla has also contributed to church and community music. She has directed the Negaunee Male Chorus for the past ten years and the Negaunee St. Paul's Church Choir for 20 years. She has directed musical theater for the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council and has led many sing-alongs and impromptu choral groups. In 1984 she helped establish the Wakefield Community Ecumenical Choir and has directed it for eight of the past twelve years.
Her nominators highlighted her abiding respect for the great choral master works. They also say that she not only taught students the skills and tools needed for fine choral music, but was also an exemplary role model of fine character, respect and leadership. They appreciate her unique talents for teaching all levels of ability, for accommodating any learning style, and for instilling a work ethic.
Many of Miss Trolla's students have followed in her footsteps and have become music educators, winning awards of their own. They credit their success to her inspiring manner and excellent tutelage. Some who did not study music further also cite her influence in their career choice. One former student wrote, "Although music did not become my major field of study, I can unequivocally say that Mary Trolla was my most influential educator and inspiration for my career choice, and it was she who taught me the lessons I learned about people and leadership. She taught me these things through her choral teaching. For this reason I remain a strong supporter of choral programs, and the arts in general, because of all the things I learned through chorus that had nothing to do with music!"
Miss Trolla has lived her philosophy that everyone needs the arts. In her own words, "Other classes give a student a living. Mine gives life. ... When you put all the elements together - composer, music, musicians, audience - what you have is ... the miracle of music."