UVic Torch -- Spring 2004
Spring 2004,
Volume 26, Number 1

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Hitting the Wright Note - Photograph by Christopher Campbell Hitting the Wright Note
Jingle King: He made his mark writing music for commercial spots and now Don Wright is sharing his love of a good tune.
By CHRIS THACKRAY
Photography by CHRISTOPHER CAMPBELL


DON WRIGHT RADIATES A LOVE OF MUSIC. “I want to give it to everyone,” says the educator, composer and philanthropist. Over the phone from his home in Toronto, it’s easy to pick up on the 95-year-old’s seemingly boundless enthusiasm for music’s ability to enrich lives.

Students and young musicians are about to benefit from Wright’s philosophy. He’s donating $1 million to the Music Education department in the Faculty of Education. “These future music teachers have a dream to spread the joy of music and I want to help them pursue that dream.”

The impact of Wright’s support will reach far. It’ll fund undergraduate and graduate scholarships in music education. Music programs including Bandfest—a youth festival hosted each year by the university—will grow. More music education students will be able to attend international events. And money will be set aside for regular repairs and replacements of instruments and equipment.

Wright’s interest in young musicians and the teachers that work with them has generated 34 endowed, perpetual scholarships at 13 universities across Canada. Other beneficiaries include hospitals, churches and choral ensembles.

“This gift is a validation of the work so many people have done to build music education at UVic,” says Education Dean Budd Hall. “It’s a wonderful legacy. It means music education will be strengthened, particularly when music programs in schools are under pressure. This is the perfect gift at the right time. It’s great encouragement to students and teachers.”

“This means perpetual support for excellence in teacher education at UVic,” says Vice-President of External Relations Faye Wightman. “We are delighted that Don has recognized UVic in this fashion and chosen to support our students with such kindness.”

Part of a musical family, Wright mastered music at an early age. In his youth, he and his brothers founded an orchestra. “Everyone,” he says, “wanted to dance to it.” As a student at the University of Western Ontario, he conducted the orchestra, organized the school band, and introduced the “girl drum major” to Western football games. As an athlete, he set the Western track record for long jump—23 feet—unbroken for 40 years.

Wright taught music, classics and history at Sir Adam Beck public school in London, Ontario and in 1935 married Lillian Meighen, the daughter of former prime minister Arthur Meighen.

The music man made his mark in the earlier days of radio and television. Writing music for hundreds of advertising spots, he became known as Canada’s “Jingle King.” He also wrote a number of now standard books on developing the young voice and music suitable for children’s changing voices.

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