Despite the hard work that comes with planning and organizing any large event, Ron Patrick remained as enthusiastic as ever about his “Music for Fun” concert series right up to the very end.
A retired music teacher in the Schalmont School District and an adjunct professor in the music department at Schenectady County Community College, Patrick died during the second week of March after a long illness. But a concert he had planned will go on as originally scheduled on Sunday at the First United Methodist Church, thanks to the efforts of his wife, Christine Patrick, and local musicians who couldn’t think of a better way to honor his memory.
“He had this thing all planned back in January,” said his wife, who took over the reins after her husband died. “He had sent out the music to everybody, and when he called them and said the date, April 29, he added, ‘I’ll probably be dead by then.’ I can remember hearing him say that to everybody, and it made me realize I better make sure this concert happens.”
‘Music for Fun’
WHAT: A tribute concert to Ron Patrick
WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 603 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 377-4670, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Offers of help
After Patrick’s death, Christine started receiving phone calls from musicians offering to lend a hand with the concert. She got so many offers that the venue, usually the Schenectady County Library’s McChesney Room, had to be changed to the church just a few blocks away.
Patrick played the French horn himself, and Sunday’s concert will have a brass theme with 20 horns, a tuba, a euphonium, a timpani, a bass drum and a gong. Two of the horn players will also perform as vocalists and a third will play the fiddle.
“Usually, he might get 13 or 14 musicians for something like this, and that would be a big group,” said Christine Patrick.
“But this is the biggest group we’ve ever had, and when I started getting all these phone calls I realized that all these horns would be way too overwhelming for the McChesney Room. So, we got the Methodist church, and at least it’s in the same neighborhood. A lot of people who showed up at the library used to walk to the concerts because they lived downtown, and at least now they’ll still be able to walk there.”
Patrick was a native of Oneonta who graduated from Oneonta High School in 1967. He received his undergraduate degree in music education from Ithaca College in 1961, and earned his master’s in French horn performance at Indiana University in 1963.
He studied French horn performance and orchestral playing at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, and in 1964 moved to Schenectady, where he began his long teaching career as the junior high band director at Draper High School. Patrick was the fourth- and fifth-grade band director at Pinewood School in the Mohonasen district when he retired in 1999.
Teacher and friend
He played in ensembles and orchestras at both Ithaca College and Cornell University, and performed with other groups throughout his career, including the Albany Symphony, Lake George Opera Festival, Berkshire Symphony Orchestra, Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, Schenectady Horn Quartet and the Schenectady Chamber Players, to name just a few.
“He was very well-respected as a musician, and he was one of those guys that everybody, if you were a musician in the area, knew,” said William Meckley, chairman of the music department at SCCC.
“Along with playing in the Albany Symphony, he did a lot of freelance and I can remember playing with him in the pit for a few Broadway show type things. We must have played together 100 times.”
Patrick was also an enthusiastic teacher and an amiable friend and colleague, according to Meckley.
“He was vibrant and funny, and he had that rare combination of being very sharp-witted but also kind-hearted,” said Meckley. “He was a really nice guy, and as a teacher he was very demanding of his students but he also cared about them a great deal. He didn’t like it when they didn’t work as hard as they should have. He wanted everyone to succeed.”
The two dozen or so musicians that will perform on Sunday include both adults and children.
“Many of them, even the adults, were his students,” said Christine Patrick, a pianist who has been leading rehearsals for the event at the SCCC band room. “Some of them will be professional musicians, and we’ll also have a few high-school kids and even a few middle-schoolers.”
The concert, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, is free. The music performed will include Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”
“He loved inventing concert series,” Patrick said of her husband. “He loved making sure people had the opportunity to listen to music.”