|ABOUT THE CLUB >>||Bob Byrnes|
Mr. Bob Byrnes
Mr. Bob Byrnes became the second director
of the UNI Varsity Men's Glee Club in 1974.
Born and raised in Osage, Iowa, Bob
graduated from the University of Northern
Iowa in 1972, and earned a master's degree
in music from UNI in 1974. He taught at UNI
since 1972 in the School of Music, was
also an administrative assistant and campus
carilloneur, in addition to directing the
Men's Glee Club.
Bob directed the Glee Club for 30 years.
During that time, he led the group to new
and extraordinary experiences. In 1980, the
Glee Club became the first of any group
from the University of Northern Iowa to
perform in Europe. Since then, members of
the Glee Club have traveled to perform in
Europe every other year. Byrnes directed the
Glee Club before enthusiastic audiences
in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany,
Holland, Switzerland, and Italy, including
performances at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1996, 1998, and 2004.
Under Bob's aegis, the Glee Club began
producing and performing in the annual Christmas Variety Shows in 1978. Since the 11th production of the shows in 1988, all performances have been sold out. The move to the 1,550-seat Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in 2000 only broadened the show's appeal. To date, the UNI Varsity Men's Glee Club can boast more sold-out performances at the GBPAC than any other group, student or professional.
The Glee Club produced it's first Christmas album entitled "Christmas at UNI",
and it's first compact disc, "Twelve Songs for Christmas", during the Byrnes' era. Bob
secured funds for the Glee Club's tuxedos, another first. And Bob was instrumental in
establishing The Les Hale Endowment Fund, to ensure the future of the Glee Club.
The Glee Club and University community suffered a tremendous loss when Bob suffered a major stroke. On Friday, May 28, 2004, over 40 Glee Club members and alumni gathered at Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls, and sang for Bob. As the men sang "Brothers, Sing On!", Bob died. He was only 54 years old.
Funeral services were held on Tuesday, June 1, 2004 in Waterloo. Over 120 Glee Club
members and alumni came from all over the country to sing at Bob's memorial service.
Robert Byrnes is buried in Fairview Cemetery, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Byrnes' final lesson to the Glee Club was, "Whatever you do in your life, you have to work damn hard to really make it special." It was Bob's goal that the UNI Varsity Men's Glee Club be "one of the best choruses on the planet."
Bob's commitment to the Glee Club will never be forgotten.
To ensure that Bob's legacy lives on forever, the Bob Byrnes Kingpin status was established as part of the Les Hale Endowment Fund, to provide financially for the future of the Glee Club at UNI.
For personal accounts of Bob's impact on the Glee Club, we invite you to read Stories from the Boys.
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