In love with the sound of music

Published 1:28 pm Monday, November 17, 2008

PROCTORVILLE — Jon Bradley and playing music. It’s a love affair that has gone on for decades with none of the passion dying anytime soon.

“If someone called me right now and needed me to play a job this afternoon, I would run home and get the French horn and play,” Bradley said.

Interestingly, no one would guess from his day job that Bradley has such a symbiotic relationship with the arts. Bradley is the assistant principal at Fairland High School.

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But in his off hours, it’s a different story. For the past 30 years Bradley, who took up the French horn in the summer after sixth grade, has been an enthusiastic member of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. That really follows because before moving to the front office, Bradley was a band director and music teacher for 22 years.

Now when he performs, the tables are reversed. He’s part of an ensemble and that means he must follow the lead, instead of providing it. But it’s an arrangement that works for Bradley.

“It is very relaxing to play. I can enjoy my music and there is no administrative responsibility,” he said. “ Being a band director, you are in charge and have to make sure everything is ready, rather than just show up and do your job.”

The HSO performs five classical concerts each fall-winter season, plus three pops concerts during the summer. There are usually three rehearsals before each concert on the weekends when conductor Kimo Furomoto flies in from California.

Except for symphony members who are also Marshall University professors, the orchestra is made up of part-time musicians like Bradley, who also joins in the Lincoln Brass, the educational outreach program the HSO offers area schools.

“We go to elementary schools and show the instruments and talk about what fun it is to doing something like band, or choir or string,” he said. “It is fun to do sports. I am not anti sports. But I am still doing my music and a lot of kids don’t do sports after they leave school.”

As Bradley sees it, all the arts, not just performing music, offer a path of enjoyment for all – artists and their audiences.

“It is fun for me, but also for those people out there,” he said.

So he’s upset when he hears about arts programs getting cut from school curriculum.

“It shouldn’t be the first to go,” he said. “There is research that shows kids involved in the arts have better test scores, better attendance. There is a lot of success related to the arts.

I have done it so long and I still enjoy it and look forward to it, that it is my love, my passion.”

The Huntington Symphony Orchestra will have its “Winter Dreams Holiday Homecoming” concert Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. Performances will be at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center at Marshall University. For more information, call 304-525-0670.