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dotsU of U Dedicates New Music Library
in honor of Emma Ray Riggs McKay
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June 22, 2001 – University of Utah representatives, music lovers and community supporters will gather on Sat., June 23 to celebrate the dedication of a new music library that, in addition to providing a stimulating study space and computer and technology lab for students, will house a remarkable, rare music collection for public enjoyment and research.

An open house for the library, named in honor of Emma Ray Riggs McKay, is scheduled from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m., and the dedication begins at 6:00. Representatives from the McKay family and the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation will join Music Department Chair Edgar Thompson, Music Director April Greenan, and Fred Esplin, vice president for university relations to celebrate the opening of Utah’s newest cultural treasure. Joyce Bennett, wife of Utah’s Senator Robert F. Bennett, will perform in a flute trio, along with the University’s honors string quartet.

“The library is one of the many extraordinary things to come out of the renovation and construction of the new David P. Gardner Hall,” according to Thompson. “This is the first time in the history of the department that the majority of music resources are located and accessible right within our own building.”

The library will not only be used by university students as a place to study, but will also be a research and resource center for all music lovers and scholars worldwide. The entire collection of manuscripts, music scores, and photos are currently being indexed and will be available online starting Sat, June 23 at

“I am thrilled by the amazing community support we have seen for this project,” said Thompson. “The financial support from the McKay family and the Quinney Foundation, in particular, has been outstanding and our gratitude to them has no bounds.”

April Greenan commented that, “The generous gift from the McKay family has made it possible to build and establish this marvelous library and museum. And the support from the Quinney Foundation will allow us to acquire books, scores, and recordings in perpetuity, to ensure that the library survives and thrives.”

Greenan added that, “It is very fitting we name the library in honor of Emma Ray Riggs McKay (known as Ray to her friends and family), who was an accomplished musician and lifetime supporter of musical endeavors at the U. Not only are we celebrating the dedication on her birthday, but she was born in 1887, the year Thomas Edison introduced his phonograph.”

Born in 1887 to Emma Louise Robbins and Obadiah H. Riggs, who were teachers at the U of U, Ray was [according to her father’s memoirs] “a ray of sunshine entering our home.” She had a fine contralto voice and often joined her four brothers in singing performances. She spent hours practicing on the piano under the guidance of her mother, who taught music at the university. Before finishing college, she moved to Cincinnati and enrolled in the Conservatory of Music, majoring in piano.

Ray eventually returned to Utah and was one of six students who graduated from the U in 1898. Following graduation, she accepted a teaching position at Madison Elementary in Ogden. In 1901, she married David O. McKay, future president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ray insisted their seven children learn to play the piano, and often accompanied her sons on their
instruments. Ray, her husband, their seven children and their spouses all graduated from the U.

The McKay Music Library contains the Maurice Abravanel Studio (dedicated last October), the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Reading Area, the Mariska Aldrich Memorial Archive and the Walter and Helene Druke Shaw Collection. The library will also display on a rotating semester basis work by students in the university’s art department. “We are excited about collaborating with the art department to display university students’ work,” stated Greenan. Several music students will join art students on an advisory committee to determine which art goes up and when. “It is exciting to see the emphasis on interdisciplinary efforts. It helps our students not to be so encapsulated, and it provides an opportunity for art students to see first-hand the process involved in getting their work up and displayed.”

The library contains thousands of scores, manuscripts, recordings and musical equipment in the collections previously mentioned. A sampling of inventory includes: a Bosendorfer piano that plays piano rolls and has an mechanical attachment to convert the rolls into CDs; over 10,000 LP recordings, many of which capture rare, historical and cultural events such as the Apollo landing and presidential speeches; piano rolls featuring music from Gershwin, Bartok and Debussey; and 40,000 scores, many of which are on rare wax irreplaceable cylinders, and include original recordings from Thomas Edison.

Summer hours for the library are weekdays from 9:00 until 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 until 5:00 p.m. For more information about library resources and hours call (801) 581-6691.

Media Contacts:
Coralie Alder, U Public Relations Director:
(801) 581-5180



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