It was just another day of proof reading music when a composition crossed veteran musician Gordon Mathie’s desk – and caught his eye.
“It was a strange thing,” Mathie, an Ohio resident, said. “I noticed it was commissioned by the Troy High School Band, so I wrote to Mr. Nutting.”
“He then wrote me I think a typed letter, and I mean typewriter,” Troy High School Director of Bands Brian Nutting said. “I swear it was typed by something other than a computer.”
“They’d been trying to find out who did start this program and who wrote the school fight song,” Mathie said.
"I immediately called him and said, ‘I want to meet you in person, can you come to Troy? We would love to honor you,’” Nutting said. “It’s appropriate that we would do so as the founder of the instrumental music program. And the rest is history.”
Mathie started the program when Troy was still Troy Township and the high school was Big Beaver High School.
“When I started in 1949, we had nothing," Mathie said. "No music, no stands, no uniforms, no instruments, no music rooms. So I taught in boiler rooms, hallways, libraries, et cetera. We started in September, and in December, we played a concert. And so the program has just blossomed since then.”
Though Mathie only taught in Troy for two years before landing a spot with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, he helped lay the foundation for Troy’s very large, very successful instrumental music program. And tonight, he’s back to conduct a Troy band concert for the first time in more than 60 years.
“You’re going to hear in the concert three very good bands, which is just amazing to me, when I started about 40 kids who’d never played an instrument,” Mathie said. “It’s a great band program. Credit should go to Mr. Nutting.”
The concert is free and starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 in the Troy High School auditorium. It will feature a mix of holiday, classical and jazz music.