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Orville Wright—music was his life
Orville Wright, who died last Thursday in Massachusetts, USA, started his musical training at a very early age in Trinidad & Tobago taking piano lessons, in addition to sitting the Associated Royal School of Music exams, reaching Grade VIII in both practical and theory. While studying classical music, he developed a flair for playing calypso, and thus began his non-classical music track.
Wright left Trinidad in 1970 to further his education and studied arranging and composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston; he graduated in 1974. Soon after he began a 28-year affiliation with that institution; first as a faculty member for 13 years, and then as chair of the ensemble department for 15 years.
While teaching at Berklee, he played keyboard accompaniment for a number of Broadway shows that were playing in Boston at the time, including The Wiz, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Cats. Wright was also adept in the playing of the steelpan and taught a steelband class at Berklee during his tenure.
He wrote arrangements for a number of US-based calypsonians, most notably King Wellington, and led his own quintet in Boston for 15 years. While at Berklee, he led a team of fellow faculty members in performances and classes at the Polish Jazz Camp near Warsaw, Poland, between 1990 and 1992. He travelled extensively, teaching and playing in South Africa, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico.
He recorded an album in Japan as a member of the Berklee All-Stars. From 1992 to 2002, Wright served as a consultant to Pan Trinbago. During that period he reviewed and rewrote the criteria for steelband competitions in Trinidad. He also served as the chief adjudicator for the Pan is Beautiful and Panorama competitions.
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