John David Beck, the choral director Escanaba High School, and his father, the late Conrad David Beck, who also taught at Escanaba High School, were the recipients of the 1995 U. P. Choral Leadership Award.
John David Beck has been the choral director at Escanaba High School since 1978. Before being hired there he was the only substitute music teacher in the Escan-aba area, and his father, Conrad Beck, was the high school choral director. Consequently, after his father's death in 1978, John substituted in music full-time at the high school while a course of action was implemented for hiring a new choral director. Ultimately John applied for his father's position, was hired, and continues his father's legacy.
John Beck was influenced by the example of his father while a student at Escanaba High School. He decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a music educator. He went to Northern Michigan University and earned his bachelor's degree in 1977.
John Beck's chorale was selected to perform at the Michigan State Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) directors' convention in Ann Arbor in 1981 and again in 1983. He has served as the representative for the Upper Peninsula in the MSVMA, and has participated in state festivals. In 1985 his chorale was among those featured at the fall conference of the Michigan American Choral Directors' Association in Lansing. He has long been a proponent for an Upper Peninsula location for state festivals. Mr. Beck's choral groups consistently receive high ratings at annual choral festivals. He has arranged exchange concerts with Flint area groups, directs a yearly musical, writes and arranges choral pieces for his own groups, directs the Youth Bell Choir and Senior Choir at Bethany Lutheran Church in Escanaba, and has been nominated three times for director of the MSVMA SATB Honors Choir.
Conrad David Beck (1925-1978) received a posthumous Choral Leadership Award for 1995. Mrs. Eleanor Beck accepted the award on behalf of her late husband.
Conrad Beck did his undergraduate work at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. He received his masters degree from the University of Michigan, and spent one summer at Oberlin. He taught in Iowa for two years and in Newberry, Michigan for four years. He was the Escanaba High School Choral Director from 1956 to 1978.
During the 1960's Mr. Beck attended the Music Education National Conference. Over the years his chorale consistently received high ratings at choral festivals, and was selected to perform a joint concert with Northern Michigan University's Arts Chorale in 1973. His chorale was also selected for the American Choral Directors' Association convention in Des Moines, Iowa in 1974, and in 1976 was selected to participate in a state choral gathering at Olivet College. In 1977 the chorale was selected to tour Romania by Friendship Ambassadors. With Northern Michigan University Conrad Beck worked to obtain a grant to establish the Upper Peninsula Select Choir. He also directed Bethany Lutheran Church adult and youth choirs in Escanaba and established a bell choir there. And, a man after our own hearts, he participated in and was a soloist for the Bay De Noc Choral Society.
Mr. Beck's life was too short, but his love for music and his talent for sharing that love and instilling it in those around him is still felt in his community. Those who do music know that a lot of hard work accompanies the accomplishments detailed above.