Henry Aldridge’s love of music began when he was a student at Bright. He and classmate Fontaine Patten Moore, both 1955 graduates, hope to inspire current students with the creation of the Aldridge/Patten Fund for Visiting Artists.
The first visiting artists in this program, members of the highly-esteemed Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet, spent all day on Monday with students. They began with a short concert during morning meeting, and then held sessions for each grade. In the afternoon, the quintet performed again for grades K-5. It was a full day of music, just what Aldridge and Moore had hoped.
“Miss Bright was a person who believed very firmly the classroom experience was not enough. We had plays, movies, what she called manual training or shop, athletics and, boy, did we have music. We had a ton of music. We started with rhythm band in kindergarten and first grade and we had recorders and flutophones and ocarinas, and we played “Country Gardens” every chance we got, which by the way was written by my cousin Percy Aldridge Grainger. And at Christmas, we would sing and come up from the basement singing “The First Noel” acapella until we got to the auditorium,” Dr. Aldridge told the students at the afternoon concert.
“We remember the music strongly. Our idea was we wanted to do something that would help and make even better the music program you already have. That is why we thought of this initiative, and we hope it will continue for many years.”
Dr. Aldridge, who is emeritus professor of electronic media and film studies at Eastern Michigan University and an organist, told the students that he met Mrs. Moore when they were in kindergarten in 1948 and instructed the students to look for them in the photograph in the hallway of the second generation students in 1952.
After the concert, Head of School O.J. Morgan said: “We owe this to Henry and Fontaine. Through their generosity, we will be able to do this every year and maybe twice a year from now on. They have made that possible. We have a lot of gratitude to send their way.”
Music teacher Stephanie Bowling invited the quintet and coordinated the events of the day.
The visiting quintet included Michael Moore, tuba; Stuart Stephenson, trumpet; Michael Tiscione, trumpet; Nathan Zgonc, trombone, and Jaclyn Rainey, French horn. The pieces they played were kid-friendly and most of them easily recognized by the students as either nursery rhymes, children’s songs or themes from movies. They played “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” for junior pre-kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, for instance. The most popular pieces were “The Pink Panther” theme song by Henry Mancini, complete with finger snapping, and the “Star Wars” theme by John Williams.
For each grade, the musicians talked about their instruments, explained how they make sounds and demonstrated each one by playing specific songs. Tiscione showed the students a couch shell and played it by blowing into it to show them an early trumpet. Rainey brought a 12-foot-long garden hose connected to a funnel that she played to demonstrate the French horn. Another highlight was that several students from each grade got to try the instruments, which proved difficult for some and easier for others to get enough air to blow and make a sound.
The students were given a chance to ask many questions, such as how the musicians chose their instruments, how long they have been playing, their favorite places to play and if they have played in front of famous people. Most of the musicians said they began playing at the end of elementary or beginning of middle school, some starting with piano at a much younger age.
To view the afternoon concert, visit our Facebook page: