Don Wright Music Education Wing
~ Scholarships and Endowment Funding for Music-Education Needs ~
Don Wright (1908 – 2006)
Speaking in 2004 to the CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, Don said “I want music to be every place it’s possible- it’s a beautiful power for good…” And so Don Wright has contributed much to the world of music, education, and ultimately the pure joy inherent to the musical life.
A man of true musical brilliance and generosity, Don Wright was a conductor, educator, composer, and philanthropist. Don’s passion for music began with the Cello at age 7 and from there his talent blossomed to encompass a love of music that became, what can only be called, a many splendored thing .
As a boy in Ontario, Don began bringing music to others professionally along side his three brothers in “The Wright Brothers’ Orchestra.” He soon went on to become director of music in many London, Ontario public schools and later, from 1946-1956, he managed a radio station (CFPL) where he dedicated his efforts to developing local musical talent. Ever the creator, Don founded a 14-voice mixed choir which was a popular Sunday night broadcast on over 450 radio stations in Canada and the U.S. from the late forties to the mid fifties. However, all of this was only the beginning! By 1957, Don had moved to Toronto where he formed “The Don Wright Singers” and composed the many commercial jingles that earned him the nickname “The Jingle King”. He composed scores for films and TV, and many CBC documentaries, such as Pierre Burton’s “Trail of ‘98” , “ The Opening of the Seaway”, and the Canadian choir tribute “Proudly We Praise” (Thompson, 1966). The sixties saw Don perform on Parliament Hill, Canada Day 1967, where he also experienced the unique honor of being presented to the Queen at the Centennial celebration.
Don compiled a thesaurus of excerpts from his life's work in music for educational purposes that covered vocal development and instrumental arranging. He went on to donate complete sets of “Fifty Years of Music with Don Wright” to music departments in post-secondary educational institutions across Canada, and was a guest speaker at many clinics and workshops on “ The Changing Voice” in Canada and the U.S.A.
The essence of Don Wright’s contributions to the worlds of music and education truly go beyond words. His life long love for music, from composing to teaching, has produced a legacy that includes the Don Wright Charitable Foundation (1966), through which he organized the provision of 34 scholarships for music students in 13 Canadian Universities. In addition, Don and his wife, Lillian, established a great many endowments and scholarships with hospitals and churches in their home province of Ontario.
It was Don’s passionate belief that the joy of music be spread far and wide, by many hands, and one of his most inspiring truths was the importance of music education. As Dr. Wright has expressed many times and in many ways-
“Music teachers have a dream to spread the joy of music –
I want to help them pursue that dream”.
The University of Victoria is an honored conduit of Don Wright’s passion to, “ make music come alive”. As the recipient of a $1 million gift for music education, the university will put the generous support toward scholarships, education initiatives and providing necessary resources and equipment. The endowment funding has also seen the birth of the University of Victoria’s Don Wright Symphonic Winds - a spectacular showcase of talented community members and students. The University of Victoria will help carry out the dream of Don Wright and other music teachers, ensuring that students and teachers are able to continue building and sharing the spirit of music everywhere.