Al G. & Gladys Stone Wright
for Music Education
The Lowell Mason House is excited to announce that it has received a substantial donation from Gladys Stone Wright of West Lafayette, Indiana, for the dual purpose of preserving the historic birthplace of Lowell Mason, considered to be the father of music education in the United States, while also advancing and promoting the field of music education for current and future generations. In recognition of the significant contribution, Lowell Mason House is establishing the “Dr. Al & Gladys Stone Wright Innovation Center for Music Education” to advance advocacy for music education and support the continuous evolution of innovative music teaching strategies in schools worldwide.
“We are indebted to Gladys Wright for support of Lowell Mason House as a way to honor the legacy of her husband, Al, and her own illustrious career as a music educator, band leader and strategic advisor,” said Dr. Thomas Reynolds, Lowell Mason House president. “The gift is indeed a keystone grant that will motivate future financial support for the historic Lowell Mason House, a structure that once completed, will become a national monument to the life and vision of Lowell Mason.”
ILowell Mason, born in Medfield, Mass. in 1792, was known for his ground-breaking work as the first supervisor of music education in Boston Public Schools. This work in 1838 led to music becoming a part of school curriculums throughout Massachusetts, and across the United States. Until his death in 1872, Lowell Mason was determined to ensure that all American school children would be “taught music as they are taught to read.”
No different than Lowell Mason, Gladys Stone Wright, together with her late husband, Dr. Al G. Wright, dedicated their lives to music education, ensemble leadership, and advancement of the professional field of music. Dr. Wright passed away on September 5, 2020 at the age of 104. He and Gladys were married for 67 years.
Background on the Wrights
Oregon native and Lafayette, Indiana resident Gladys Stone Wright pursued an award-winning career as a music educator, composer, and writer, with additional interest in history and historic preservation. Her many accomplishments include serving as high school band director in Oregon and Indiana school districts, conducting wind bands, and leading international music tours.
For nearly 40 years, Mrs. Wright has been President of International Music Tours and a board member of John Philip Sousa Foundation. Her other roles include founding president of Women Band Directors National Association, and roles with American School Band Directors’ Association, National Band Association, Tippecanoe Arts Federation and Tippecanoe Fife and Drum Corps.
Alfred George Wright known by all as “Dr. Al G. Wright”, was a London native and French horn player who emigrated to the United States as a child, settling in Michigan.
Wright attended the University of Miami in Florida on a full scholarship, and went on to teach music at the high school level in the state. He later became director of the Purdue All-American Marching Band in 1954, becoming only the second person to hold the position. Wright remained at Purdue for 27 years until his retirement in 1981.
During his time at Purdue, Wright is credited for adding auxiliaries to the marching band, bringing in well-known musicians as guest conductors, including Arthur Fiedler from the Boston Pops Orchestra, leading hundreds of performances at Radio City Music Hall, and directing ensembles on international tours to such places as Colombia, Venezuela, Japan and Europe.
Wright was a founding member of band associations in Florida, and was also inducted into the band directors “Hall of Fame” in Florida and Alabama. Throughout his career, he served on numerous boards of directors, including North American Band Conductors Coordinating Commission, National Interscholastic Music Activities Commission and Big Ten Band Directors National Association, and American Bandmasters Association.
Wright assisted former conductor of the United States Air Force Band, Colonel George Howard, in the development of the John Philip Sousa Society, which eventually became the John Phillip Sousa Foundation. Wright served as the Foundation’s president, CEO, and chairman of the board. Wright served as guest conductor, lecturer, and adjudicator in most of the 50 states, in five Canadian provinces, in Japan, Europe, and England. In 2003, Professor Wright was honored by Purdue University band alumni when a bust of his likeness was placed outside the Elliott Hall of Music next to the entrance to Purdue Bands. In addition, the Purdue Bands & Orchestras department chair position is named for Al G. Wright.
In 2016, both Al and Gladys Stone Wright were awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Midwest Clinic.