History was made on April 2 as the Medfield High School Auditorium was given a name, but not just any name, a famous name: Lowell Mason.
Medfield residents gathered in the MHS Auditorium to celebrate and honor the father of music education in public schools by renaming the facility after him – The Lowell Mason Auditorium.
The dedication ceremony, organized by the Lowell Mason Foundation, celebrated Mason’s legacy with various musical selections from the Boston Latin School Orchestra, Boston Latin School Chamber Choir, Medfield High School Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble.
The Boston Latin School Orchestra was the first of four performances of the night. Directed by Paul Pitts, the orchestra showed its remembrance by playing two selections composed by Lowell Mason including “Nearer My God to Thee” and “When I survey the Wondrous Cross.”
The Medfield High School Concert Band, directed by Doug Olsen, followed the Latin School Orchestra with a performance of “In the Time of Lowell Mason.” The Boston Latin School Chamber Choir also sang tribute to Mason with its selection of “O Mason” composed by Lowell Mason.
Olsen, Director of Music at MHS, was pleased with the outcome of the dedication ceremony.
“I thought the night was a great representation of Lowell and his lasting contributions to music and music education, historically up to present day,” said Olsen. “The speakers did a wonderful job on encapsulating time and Lowell’s values and how his legacy lives on not only in Medfield but nation wide.”
Olsen said the ceremony was also a great opportunity for the musicians of both schools.
“It was a great opportunity for both schools to come together to support each other,” said Olsen. “Lowell is a national figure, his work was vital to creation of public school music curriculums … It sends a great message to the students that music is important.”
Guest speakers included William McManus, retired Associate Professor and Chair of Music education in the School of Music, Boston University; Richard Colwell, professor Emeritus of Music Education at the University of Illinois and the New England Conservatory of Music and Caleb Mason, the great-great-great grandson of Lowell Mason.
Caleb Mason said Lowell was a key contributor in not only influencing music in schools but hinted he contributed to music all around us.
“Is it possible that the smash hit television show 'Glee,' a show about children singing would even exist if not for Lowell?” said Caleb.
The idea to name the MHS auditorium after Lowell Mason came from two Lowell Mason Foundation board members.
“We have two music teachers on our board: Tom Reynolds and Tim McGee and they couldn’t believe that our auditorium didn’t have a name and that it wasn’t named after Lowell Mason,” said Karen Scotti, co-president of the Lowell Mason Foundation.
The process of naming the part of the high school after Mason was easier than the current on-going project to move Mason’s birth-house from Adams Street to its new location on Green Street – scheduled for April 19.
“We went to the school committee and made a presentation and two weeks later the committee voted in favor of naming it the Lowell Mason Auditorium,” said Scotti.
Scotti credited Olsen, and foundation Board member Reynolds for choosing the musical selections to perform at the ceremony.
“Since Lowell Mason first taught music in the city of Boston, Tom Reynolds thought it would be nice to invite a Boston based group,” Scotti said. “Since [Reynolds] knows Paul Pitts, who is the music director at Boston Latin School, that’s how we got the Boston Latin Orchestra.”
Caleb Mason concluded his speech with what he thought Lowell Mason’s message would be.
“I think the lesson to take from Lowell Mason is to go forth in our own time of rapid change and divisive redderick, and carry Lowell’s combination of generosity, intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness and love of what we do to the world around us, to be a generous and kind force for positive change," Caleb Mason said. "I think that is the larger message of what Lowell left us.”