Daniel R. Perkins is First Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professor

September 19th, 2007 by Adam

PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Daniel R. Perkins, professor of music and director of choral activities, has been named the first Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professor at Plymouth State University.

Alumni Wallace R. and Meredith Bristow Stevens, class of 1962, established the University’s first endowed professorship in May to celebrate and recognize extraordinary faculty who “Educate the Educators.”

“Dan Perkins is a perfect match to Wally and Meredith’s vision,” said President Sara Jayne Steen in announcing the inaugural selection. “In selecting him, the committee acknowledged his excellence and his creativity in providing opportunities for students who will themselves be leaders in working with the next generation of students.”

The Stevens-Bristow distinguished professor must have a record of excellence in teaching, advising or mentoring; evidence of scholarly activity or creativity that is recognized nationally or internationally, and exhibit outstanding contributions to the profession, University or state.

The endowed professorship, held for a term of three years, will provide Perkins with an annual stipend to support his work, reflecting the donors’ belief that those who are extraordinary educators of educators should be aided and honored.

“I am extremely proud of our numerous alums who are teaching, literally throughout the world, with the passion and intensity they observed and felt during their time in the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance,” Perkins said. “PSU has provided an environment in which our students and I have the freedom to explore, travel and work internationally, and collaborate with excellent colleagues. It is a great honor to be the recipient of an award that supports this work.”

Perkins came to Plymouth State in 1991. In the ensuing years he has developed a choral program numbering several hundred students that is widely known and respected. Both the Plymouth State Chorale, and the 25-voice select choir, the Plymouth State Chamber Singers, present a repertoire that is well-rounded and multi-cultural and encourages work by contemporary composers. Members of the ensembles travel each year, sometimes internationally, performing in venues such as York Cathedral in England, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy, townships in South Africa, and sites throughout Canada and the Eastern United States.

In addition, the All New England Choral Festival held at PSU each year gathers more than 325 educators, high school singers, and college students in a daylong study and celebration of choral works, where Perkins’ groups are known to perform with a high level of subtlety, artistry, nuance and passion.

In January, 2008, the Chamber Singers will travel to Vietnam, where Perkins is Principal Guest Conductor of the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet, for collaborative performances with the National Opera and Ballet in Hanoi, the Pedagogy School in Hue and the Music Conservatory in Saigon, as well as in primary schools.

Off campus, Perkins serves as music director of the Manchester Choral Society and of the New Hampshire Master Chorale. The latter is a four-year-old auditioned regional chamber choir, founded by Perkins. He also conducted the New Hampshire Friendship Chorus in their tours to Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Brazil and was guest conductor of the Dartmouth Handel Society and Interim Conductor of the Dartmouth Concertato Singers.

In addition, Perkins is a cofounder, with Professor Trish Lindberg, of the award-winning Educational Theatre Collaborative, and pianist for the Ruggieri Chamber Soloists.

Perkins earned a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance at Brigham Young University and both Master and Doctor of Music degrees in choral music at the University of Southern California. He studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Helsinki, Finland, where he researched Finnish choral music, worked with chamber and opera/oratorio choirs, and was classical music editor for an entertainment newspaper.

According to Wallace Stevens, both he and his wife, Meredith Bristow Stevens, are proud to be associated with the University and felt the creation of a named professorship was a perfect way to increase their involvement.

“I was, and continue to be, impressed by the product produced at the University. It’s all about the people and how exceptional they are, not just bricks and mortar,” Stevens said. “This is demonstrated daily on the PSU campus by its students, faculty and administration.”

Both Stevens and Bristow graduated from Plymouth Teachers College in 1962. They believed then, as they do now, that the educators who prepare teachers deserve special support in their work.

“I love the idea that the professorship touches the lives of professors who are educating educators,” said Bristow Stevens. “If this allows a professor the opportunity to explore a new idea then everyone ultimately benefits. By underwriting this professorship we can provide an experience that the recipient might not otherwise have had.”

Stevens currently serves as Chair of the Plymouth State University President’s Council—a group dedicated to raising funds for endowments and developing University resources that will advance the mission and vision of PSU. He and his wife met in their first year at Plymouth Teachers College and have been married for 43 years. They have three sons and six grandchildren.

PSU has been preparing successful teachers and education professionals for over 130 years—the University was founded in 1871 as the New Hampshire State Normal School, then became Plymouth Teachers College in 1939. Today graduates of the program continue to make a difference in classrooms, schools, and communities across New England and beyond.

Persons interested in receiving information regarding PSU’s endowed professors program and learning how they can honor extraordinary faculty members can contact Angela Matthews, director of development at (603) 535-2212 or amatthews@plymouth.edu.

For more information contact Christopher M. Williams, director of public relations, at cwilliams@plymouth.edu or (603) 535-2476.