Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soprano & Choral Director Patricia Pates Eaton, Mentored by Irene Britton Smith From Age 6

[Irene Britton Smith (1907-1999)]

On July 23, 2009 AfriClassical posted:
“Irene Britton Smith, African American Composer Who Taught Reading in Chicago Schools for 40 Years.” The post noted: “Today proudly launches a new web page on Irene Britton Smith, who was born in Chicago Dec. 22, 1907 and died in the city Feb. 15, 1999.” Much of the narrative of Smith's career as an educator involves her mentoring of students in music, both in school and in the community. Barbara Wright-Pryor is President of the Chicago Music Association, Branch No. 1 of the National Association of Negro Musicians. She put us in touch with Patricia Pates Eaton, who vividly recalls the guidance she received from Smith:

Irene B. Smith was my first grade teacher at Forestville School who recommended my first piano teacher, Muriel Rose, to my parents when I was 6 years old. She took me to rhythm band rehearsals at her church, Cosmopolitan Community Church, on Saturday mornings when I was 6 years old. She attended my piano recitals and orchestra concerts when I became a member of the All Chicago Youth Orchestra. She enrolled me in scouting and I sat on the citywide girl scout council representing the Cosmopolitan Community Church where Rev. Mary Evans was the pastor. I visited with her every year until the end of her life. When she came to New York on her way to Europe, she visited me. There is no time that I am asked how and why I became a musician that I don't mention her name because I stand firmly on her shoulders. When she went to study with Madam Boulanger, Leonard Bernstein and David Diamond were in her class. She had the photos of all of them in an album. She also taught my oldest brother, Henry and ALL of Jesse Jackson's children. Jesse's children were among her last and they were taught at that little school in Lake Meadows.”

I have just retired from teaching music in the NYC Public School System, however I continue to be the Principal Conductor of the All City High School Chorus and I conduct a community choir, The Brooklyn Ecumenical Choir of Bedford Stuyvesant.”

Patricia Pates Eaton earned a Master of Arts at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She describes her duties: “Responsible for all supervisory activities related to the ALL CITY HIGH SCHOOL CHORUS: Administration of the staff, selecting and arranging the music, coordination of all musical programs including an annual performance; fundraising for trips.”

Patricia taught at Wadleigh Secondary School, and at Martin Van Buren, Washington Irving, Grover Cleveland and Andrew Jackson High Schools of the New York City Department of Education. She also taught at Du Sable High School in Chicago. In her role as a Music Teracher, she did the following: “
Directed choirs that received superior ratings in choral competitions; prepared choirs for radio broadcasts, general assemblies, operetta workshops, Broadway and variety shows, coordinated festival pieces with band and orchestral accompaniment; recruited teachers; coordinated after school band program; member of the principals advisory board.”

Patricia Pates Eaton performed as Patricia Pates. As a professional chorister with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, she has performed in productions of
Aida, Boris Gudonov, Cavelleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Peter Grimes and Samson and Delilah. She has also worked with The American Opera Society, Opera Orchestra of New York, Schola Cantorum, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, New York Philharmonic, Symphony of the New World, and the Houston Grand Opera’s Broadway production of Treemonisha by Scott Joplin; and she has toured with the Robert De Cormier Singers and the Howard Roberts Chorale, as well as singing at the “Theatre des Westens,” in Berlin, Germany.

In her career as a soprano soloist, Patricia has “...sung recitals in Chicago and New York; performed roles in the Rome Opera production of the Civil Wars by Phillip Glass, 'X' the Life And Times of Malcolm X by Anthony Davis, Don Giovanni, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Porgy and Bess, How to Succeed in Business, George M, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to The Forum, Annie Get Your Gun, and The First Water, a multimedia production encompassing the Black arts, visual and musical.” The musical legacy continues to the next generation. The mezzo-soprano Patrice P. Eaton is the daughter of Patricia Pates Eaton, whose memories of Irene Britton Smith are now a part of

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