The University of Utah School of Music is the recipient of a million-dollar donation that will benefit the school's choral department.

The Kem Crosby Gardner and Carolyn Barnes Gardner Presidential Endowed Chair for Choral Studies will go toward developing the U.'s choral program. The announcement was made by Raymond Tymas-Jones, dean of the U. College of Fine Arts, during a University of Utah Singers concert on Saturday.

"This is fantastic news," said Brady Allred, director of choral studies at the U. "This will help our program tremendously."

Funding concert tours and recordings by the U. Singers will be made easier, Allred said. Up to now, whenever the group went on a European tour, it was Allred's job to get it financed. "We had some donors, and Kem Gardner funded the last two tours."

Increasing assistantships and attracting highly qualified students from around the country will also be easier with the endowment.

Since joining the U., Allred has had to be content with a budget of approximately $5,000 to $6,000 for the entire choral program. "But with this donation, we're looking at a budget in the $50,000 range."

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Talk of the endowed chair has floated around for a year, Allred said. "We sang for Kem at a function a year ago, and then he invited us to sing at a church event. At that time, Kem told me he was thinking about doing this. I think part of the motivation in giving this donation is the fact that Carolyn's mother was a musician and a pianist and a choral conductor. I think that had something to do with it."

The students in the choral department are thrilled, Allred said. "I'm honored that our hard work has gotten this attention."

Allred also quashed any rumors that he might leave the U. "I'm very happy here," he said.