A torrential downpour Tuesday night could not keep the friends and admirers of the late Morris Long from a concert honoring his legacy.
About 400 Severna Park Middle School students and their teachers dedicated a conductor's stand and chair to the memory of Long, the school's former band director who died of bone cancer in January. And members of one of the six groups on the program performed one of Long's favorite works. "He would've been pleased, and I know in my heart he was," said his wife, Beatrice Long, who was seated in the front row as the guest of honor. "I thought I could see him standing somewhere and smiling."
Long retired from the job he loved when he had a stroke in February 1995 and discovered a week later that he had bone cancer. He died Jan. 18.
"Many who knew him said he loved this school," said Principal Judy Jenkins. "The school community believes this is a fitting memorial to Mr. Long."
For Mrs. Long, Tuesday's night concert was the first time she had returned to the school since her husband's last concert in December 1994.
"It was hard," she said, flanked by her three sisters, Long's three sons and a grandchild. "I wish he had been there."
Long had directed the school's concert band for 22 years, earning a reputation as a strict disciplinarian who could be demanding and sometimes harsh.
But he also was willing to spend hours after school helping his students and was a tireless organizer of fund-raisers to help buy music and equipment.
After the intermediate band played "Fantasy on a Fanfare," Jenkins saluted Long by showcasing the stand and chair. She credited him with starting two programs to help students appreciate the beauty of opera and musicals.
The intermediate band then played one of the themes from Sibelius' "Finlandia," one of Long's favorite works.
The audience responded with a standing ovation in honor of the students and Long.
Many of the band members said Long was instrumental in encouraging them to play their best.
"He taught us how to work together as a group," said Aaron Paquette, an eighth-grader who plays clarinet. "He knew a lot about music, and taught us how to work on our music."
"He cared about us kids," said Mike Horr, another eighth-grader who plays clarinet. "He always worked to make us better."
Eighth-grader Adrienne Wineholt, a flute player, said the students chose to honor their late director "because he worked here for a long time, and he should be remembered."
Pub Date: 5/23/96