Wright brothers top-flight musicians

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 25, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
GRANITE QUARRY —Students in the after school strings program at Granite Quarry Elementary performed a song that few have heard before Wednesday.
The class played Baron Wright’s “Fighting for Our Country” during the spring concert.
Baron Wright isn’t a famous composer, at least not yet.
He’s a 9-year-old Faith Elementary School student who’s been writing music since the age of 6, when he began his first piano lessons.
“At certain times I just have this feeling that I want to write a song and I’ll just go over and play something,” he said.
But Baron doesn’t do it completely by himself. His brother, Alden Wright, 13, notates the music for him. He joined the string ensemble on piano during the song’s performance Tuesday.
Alden said no one ever sat down and taught him how to notate music. It’s just something he picked up.
“I just kind of figured it out from reading so much music and just looking at it,” he said.
Alden, who also plays trumpet in the Southeast Middle School concert band, dabbles in composition as well.
Diane Freeman, the boys’ piano teacher, said they have excelled since they began taking lessons with her three years ago.
“They just latched on to it so quickly. It’s like the more I introduced to them, the more they wanted to learn,” she said. “They started composing right off the bat.
“Not the average student sits down and composes music.”
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Baron first stepped into the spotlight when he won the 2009-10 PTA Reflections spotlight for “Fighting for Our Country,” which he originally wrote for piano.
After beating out the county competition, he claimed the top prize in the state from out of 5,000 entries.
Susan Trivette, education director for the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, decided to arrange the piece for string instruments after hearing it.
“The melody is exceptional,” she said. “The ending is most effective. It’s four notes at the end that leave you hanging.”
Trivette said winning the state PTA Reflections contest is not an easy feat.
“It’s a real accomplishment to compose a song,” she said.
Martha Smith, the after school strings instructor at Granite Quarry, said she was surprised by how complex “Fighting for Our County” is, considering the fact that Baron wrote it at age 6.
“I was amazed at the chords and the structure,” she said. “He has harmony, chords, unique rhythm and form — that requires higher-level thinking skills.”
Smith said the piece is “haunting,” with more mature sounds.
Linda Jones, executive director of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, said she was “knocked out” when she heard the ensemble perform Baron’s song.
“It was wonderful, it really caught my heart in a way,” she said. “It has a surprise when the notes dipped down low, it was like he dipped down into your soul at that point.”
Trivette, who oversees the after school strings program for the Salisbury Symphony, said this week is the first time she’s ever seen a group perform a piece a student composed.
“It’s unique that it happened,” she said.
Smith said in her nine years as an after school strings instructor she’s seen her fair share of talent, but Baron is unique.
“I haven’t had one student like him before. I’ve had some really good players, but not composers,” she said.
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Baron decided to pick up violin after he started listening to country music on the radio.
“I liked the sound of the violin, so it made me want to play,” he said.
Smith said although Baron’s only been playing the violin since October, she’s noticed his natural talent.
“He can pretty much sight-read every piece you put in front of him with only a few mistakes,” she said. “He’s got a really good ear and sense of rhythm.”
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Tammy Wright said she’s not sure where her sons got their musical bone.
“Neither one of us play the piano,” she said. “Their dad plays the guitar, but doesn’t read music.”
Alden said both of his grandmothers took piano lessons growing up, but their grandmother Pat Payne said she never learned how to play quite like them.
“They picked it up so fast, in no time they were playing so well,” Payne said.
Wright said the boys’ love of music sparked when they received a keyboard for Christmas years ago.
“Right away they loved it and wanted to take lessons,” she said.
Freeman said the boys branched out to other instruments after discovering their interest in music.
Smith said Baron has taken his violin lessons very seriously, refusing to put tape on his fingerboard as a guide. “He just wanted to play by ear and find the notes on his own,” she said. “And he did.”
Payne said the piano at her home is hardly ever quiet when the boys are around.
“They fight over who’s going to play what,” she said.
And the brothers also enjoy sharing their talents with others.
They perform for their congregation at Organ Lutheran Church on a regular basis and play at local nursing homes. “We love to travel around and just play,” Baron said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.