Playing for Patrick, Pomfret, Connecticut
November 1, 2015
Playing for Patrick was a tribute to Patrick Wood who died at twenty-three in 2006 by his own hand. Music had sustained him his whole life, but in the end, it was no match for the depression that ravaged him. In honor of his talent, his humanity, and his sonorous piano, five of his teachers gathered at Pomfret School in Connecticut in 2015 to play in his memory. Ann Warde first guided Pat’s love and voracious appetite for music when he was six years old. Howard Frazin and Deborah Yardley Beers taught him theory and technique at the Longy School of Music in Boston. Kathleen Sadoff prepared him for the Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts. Margreet Francis, from the Hartt School, steered him through advanced repertoire until he graduated from Pomfret School as the top scholar and went on to major in math at Stanford University.
Patrick attacked the keyboard as if he were born to it. He understood everything his teachers told him. He loved the language and the emotion of music. He could sight read like a laser beam. He would sit with Ann on her old fashioned piano stool at age seven or eight, his legs dangling halfway to the floor. They would be working on a Beethoven sonata, and he would mark notations on the music that he thought might be an improvement–an improvement on Beethoven.
Fortunately, Ann had a good sense of humor, and so did all of his other teachers. Patrick could play well, but his fingers couldn’t keep up with his sight-reading, and he didn’t like to practice. These teachers knew that about him and let it slide. They humored him. They overlooked the fact that he didn’t do his homework and that he sometimes needed to giggle during his lessons more than he needed to learn a piece of music.
They also built his confidence. When Patrick was nervous about a performance, it was Deborah who first eased him beyond the fear of recitals. She helped him know what to do on stage. It was off stage that was difficult for him.
Not long after Pat’s death, Ann Warde shared the trials of an exceptional and sensitive mind, a mind that sees faster and farther than others: “Because Patrick was so different from those around him,” she said. “I think it was hard to show him acceptance and understanding in a way that he could believe. The inclination was to step back and admire, but that stepping back was perhaps in itself a disconnecting, as if we were sitting in the audience and clapping enthusiastically, rather than being next to him on stage. “If his abilities pushed people away, he might have been enmeshed in a conflict as he was attempting to pursue his own way and at the same time feel connected to human society. Although his abilities were amazing, he needed to be connected to the human family.”
Lisette, Pat’s mom
November 1, 2015