Michael J. Bates, a longtime faculty member at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, died on July 8. He was 78 years old.
Dr. Bates joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff in August 1977 as an assistant professor of music. During a more than 40-year career at the university, Professor Bates taught courses in music history, music theory, and music appreciation.
In 1999, Professor Bates was appointed director of the UAPB Vesper Choir and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2018. “Dr. Bates was a choir director extraordinaire,” noted Laurence B. Alexander chancellor of the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. “For decades, he devoted himself to preparing students for the highest level of achievement in performances by the Vesper Choir. Dr. Bates seriously wanted his students in the choir to have an international experience as well. So, he assumed the responsibility of raising funds and making plans to take the choir on trips abroad.” Under Dr. Bates’ leadership, the choir built an international profile, performing in Spain and Italy as well as 23 states. In 2006, the choir sang at a mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Dr. Bates was from Rockford, Illinois. He studied at Bradley University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Memphis.