Photo courtesy the Ellensburg Daily Record
Herbert A. Bird, CWU emeritus professor of music, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Kittitas Valley Community Hospital.
On Saturday, November 17, at 11:00 a.m., there will be a Requiem Eucharist in memory of Dr. Bird at Grace Episcopal Church. It will be followed by a celebration of his extraordinary life at 1:30 p.m. at the Canyon River Ranch, which will include a performance of his favorite music for strings, the Schubert Quintet in C major, D. 956, which will be performed by the Kairos Quartet, featuring special guest artist Kara Hunnicutt. Seating at the Canyon River Ranch will be limited to 175. Contact Barbara Hodges, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 509-963-1500 to RSVP.
The Bird Family asks that memorial gifts be made to the Herbert A. Bird Scholarship in music through the CWU Foundation.
Born November 17, 1912 in Rockford, Illinois, Dr. Bird began taking violin lessons about the age of seven. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music at the Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music. Drafted into the military in 1942, Dr. Bird served at various camps throughout the United States, where he performed on the violin for USO and other service clubs, at churches, and in hospitals. He ended his military career in the Army Special Services, playing what he termed “society jazz” for the Officers’ Club.
Dr. Bird went on to earn a master’s degree in music education at Teacher College at Columbia University in New York, where some of his classmates were from Washington State. He heard about a position at Central Washington College of Education and applied. CWCE President McConnell sent word to Wayne Hertz, music department chair, who just happened to be at New York University at the time. They got together and Dr. Bird agreed to take a position at Central in 1947.
In 1955, he went to Boston University for a year to work on his Doctorate of Musical Arts, which he received in 1957. He then returned to Central where he taught strings and music theory, conducted the orchestra, and offered individual music lessons until his retirement in 1978. During that time, he enriched the learning experience and lives of countless students. He was also active as a solo performer, with chamber groups, and orchestras.
After his retirement, Dr. Bird loaned to a violin, made in 1747, to the CWU Music Department. It was made by Carlo Testore, a contemporary of those who crafted the world-renown Stradivarius violins. It’s now played by violinist Carrie Rehkopf in the Kairos Quartet. She will be playing the Testore at the November 17 event.