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
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.
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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