Composer Mark Hayes coming to First Baptist

A familiar face — if not his music — will be in town next weekend for a full day of music workshops at First Baptist Church.

Mark Hayes, whose scores reside in countless churches and universities, will lead a workshop for choirs and one for keyboard accompanists.

“He’s an incredible talent. I’ve done his music for years,” said the Rev. Keenan Franklin, the church’s music director.

Probably best known for his piano arrangements, Hayes also writes for organ. In addition, he’s a popular choral clinician, said Franklin, who will take a rare spot in his choir Aug. 23 as Hayes leads worship.

The workshops next Saturday are open to the community.

Hayes’ church music is mostly found in Protestant denominations.

“He’s very eclectic,” Franklin said. “He did the ‘Te Deum’ and the ‘Magnificat’ in ’07 at Carnegie Hall. He’s won a Dove Award. That’s the range he works in.”

The Dove awards are for Christian musicians whose emphasis is more contemporary than, say, Bach.

Hayes lives in Illinois. He began piano lessons at 10 and developed his improvisational skills early on. His musical talents grew through the support of his family and through playing at church and school events, according to Alliance Music Publications Inc.

He has a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance, magna cum laude, from Baylor University in Texas.

His career grew to include international tours to Canada, Europe, the Far East, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Brazil. His compositions and arrangements are known for their unique American sound, drawing from diverse musical styles such as gospel, jazz, pop, folk and classical. Hayes has produced and arranged more than 50 recordings for various artists and publishers, 20 keyboard folios and four volumes of the Mark Hayes Vocal Solo Collection.

Hayes’ personal catalog includes several solo piano recordings, as well as over 500 published original compositions and arrangements, which are distributed by several leading publishers He enjoys teaching piano master classes and weekend piano improvisation seminars for church keyboardists. Hayes’ works are regularly featured at conventions of the American Choral Directors’ Association and the Music Educators’ National Conference.

“I think it’s important to bring someone from the outside, and to hear a fresh voice — especially someone who’s written the music,” Franklin said. “We can gain an understanding of why he wrote it.”

Allison Kennedy, reporter, can be reached at 706-576-6237.

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