Gannon band hosts memorial concert

The Gannon University Concert Band will host a memorial concert to celebrate the life of Bruce Morton Wright at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The concert, to be held at the Waldron Campus Center in the Yehl Ballroom, will honor Wright, who died of multiple myeloma in July.

Wright, of Erie, received his Bachelor of Arts in music from Gannon and Mercyhurst College in 1969 and achieved a Master in Public Administration from Gannon in 2000.

Wright founded the Gannon University Concert Band in 1995.

Not only was Wright the music director and instructor of fine arts at Gannon, he was the director and founder of many other orchestras and theatres.

In 1978, Wright founded the Erie Bayfront Orchestra and the Erie Opera Theatre five years later. Wright was also the conductor of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the Lake Erie Ballet Orchestra and the Bemus Bay Pops.

During Wednesday’s performance, there will be an eight-minute CNN interview, which is a segment about Wright and his work with the Erie Chamber Orchestra.

Dana Barrett, who succeded Wright as director of the Gannon University Concert Band, said Wright brought a lot of culture to the community.

“He was a very caring, friendly, talented, warmed-soul person, who was all about providing concerts for everyone and anyone at no cost,” Barrett said.

The death of Wright was difficult for the band members to cope with.

“Wright told the band he was retiring last spring,” Barrett said. “The students just thought he would be around for a little bit longer on campus, just not conducting.”

Barrett and the band members are holding this event because it is important to the Gannon community.

“They want to have this concert for themselves as much as for Wright and for the people who knew him,” Barrett said. “This has been an enjoyable preparation for them to have some kind of connection to him and to play something in honor of him.”

The Gannon University Concert Band consists of 38 students, in all college levels.

Molly Long, a sophomore physician assistant major and a member of the concert band since her freshman year, said the concert is important to her because Wright had a big impact on the band and he left his mark here.

“I hope the audience will understand how much we loved Bruce and how important he was to the university,” she said.

People who attend this concert will not only enjoy the music, but will be able to reflect and get a sense of what Wright’s life was all about.

“People will be able to think back not necessarily on his death, but to celebrate Wright,” Barrett said.

“He was all about creating music with everyone and then giving it to everyone.”

The band will be playing a number of pieces such as “Georgia on My Mind” by Hoagy Carmichael, “A Copland Tribute” by Aaron Copland and a special piece by Wright.

Also, the Rev. Shawn Clerkin will perform a Leonard Bernstein’s Mass solo, “Simple Song.”

Many band concert instruments will be used to play the variety of pieces that the band has to offer.

Instruments will include flutes, clarinets, trumpets, horns, percussions, three types of saxophones and much more.

COURTNEY HERZING

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