Paul Manz

NAUAA Jeff Ferris (1936) Volunteer of the Year: BS Music Education, 1982; MM Conducting, 1985

Paul Manz (center) is honored by President Haeger (r.) with the Ferris Award at Homecoming halftime 

Community cadenza

Maestro and educator Paul Manz is deliberately blurring the lines between art, entertainment and education. As key founder of the Prescott POPS Symphony Orchestra and band director at Prescott's Granite Mountain Middle School, he has integrated the POPS mentality—a hybrid of education and fun, family-oriented entertainment—into the public school community. Throughout his 30 years in the school system, his tremendous success has engendered thousands of dollars in scholarships, grants and support funds.

Manz's rubric for a successful public school music program reads like a primer for successful engagement in any volunteer organization. He advises, "Involve the community. In my middle school band and orchestra program, I go out of my way to invite and include administration and board members, and even the mayor on numerous occasions. These 'special guests' might introduce a number, or we may actually find a way to have them play with or conduct the groups." This strategy has fostered both symbiosis and program longevity: "The symphony is now a major supporter of music in the public schools. The relationship between the two entities benefits both...and when you make the music program such an integral part of the community, it becomes much more difficult for the board to make music cuts when times get hard."

Among Manz's impressive musical and academic credentials are instructor gigs at Yavapai College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and performances with renowned musicians such as Jerry Goldsmith, Roberta Peters, and Isola Jones. He conscientiously seeks to fortify community morale in challenging times; for instance, this year's POPS schedule included "Let Freedom Ring," a concert delivering "a Message of Hope for America." But Manz's primary focus remains the next generation. He specializes in outreach through classroom visitations, introducing the students "to symphonic music and concert etiquette." Last year a single "Music Memory Concert" drew nearly 4,400 Yavapai County students who found themselves delighted by the works of Vivaldi, Wagner, Bach, and Mancini.

The maestro's foolproof formula for youth engagement: "Involve the students. They need to be excited about what they are doing. Pick a good variety of music that includes both concert material and popular literature, and 'sounds good.' There are many good arrangements that are both playable and effective. If you choose well, you will find that the students are just as excited about the concert literature as the pop music. Encourage, encourage, encourage."

Manz might also have added, don't be afraid to indulge in theatrics or quirky humor, such as appearing in a Pink Panther costume to conduct Mancini. Guided by the precision and creativity of the conductor's baton, the Prescott community has learned that music appreciation is both a revelation and a pleasure. For this harmonious and profound gift, the NAU Alumni Association applauds Paul Manz with the Jeff Ferris Volunteer of the Year Award.