17 Mar Matt Fry
When Rose Pate, president of JM Arts at Jordan-Matthews High School, walked in on an early rehearsal of Brigadoon, she found their director, Matt Fry, with arms extended and legs a-leaping as he demonstrated the dance routine from the wedding scene. Once again Matt was working his fun-loving magic with J-M students, who under his spell presented the Lerner and Loewe musical with the mysterious made-up name in March in the Jordan-Matthews High School Auditorium. This is the first time in four years that Matt’s students had a chance to perform in “one of the classic works of American musical theater,” and, needless to say, they were gleefully conscious of how much their abilities were being stretched and their acting and musical skills increased.
The Harmony Grits and Village Voices, Fearrington’s own community choruses, know well Matt’s gifts as a director, inspirer, and above all a master of the vocal arts. On Mondays and Thursdays, after a hard day’s work teaching choral music, voice, and drama at Jordan Matthews he speeds to Fearrington — no longer on his motorcycle, he avers,
to instruct us (superannuated) grown-ups. He enters the Gathering Place exuding energy, a grin on his face, a joke or two on his tongue. But behind the jovial facade is a heart intent on straightening up our slipshod sound. He says we pay attention and his high schoolers do not, that we are easy to direct and that they are perpetually distracted; but it is clear that, when they do pay attention, they can hear what is said or sung. They “get it.” Sometimes we do not. One attribute, however, both groups share: we are grateful for this modern-day Merlin who knows how to administer the proper dose of perfectionism while honeying the cup.
Supporting JM Arts (Facebook) is one of the ways in which we Fearrington choristers, both collectively and individually, show our gratitude for Matt’s tireless service to us. This means more than giving money to help send several of his students to music camp in the summer or subsidize shows like Brigadoon. It means giving time. Whenever possible, many of us attend the musical performances of his students, both at Jordan-Matthews and elsewhere — sometimes even here at Fearrington. Occasionally we have joined in school choral concerts. As a result, we’ve been surprised to realize that the gift of time is rewarded in the very act of giving. When we journey this week to otherworldly Brigadoon, we know that the miracle will not be in front of us on the stage, but in our hearts. Why don’t you, dear readers, come too?