Charles R. Loring II

Charles R. Loring II

Died September 6, 2008

Ray prepared for Yale at Perley High School in Georgetown, MA, where he studied piano with Fred Noonan, the White House pianist to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Ray made his mark early, winning a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship during his senior year, which he used for studies at Brandeis University’s Graduate School of Music, under Seymour Shifrin, Arthur Berger and Harold Shapero, where he earned an M.F.A. in 1972.

Ray composed his first film score in 1971, the short film Ruby. During the course of his career, he went on to compose scores for more than 100 episodes of PBS/WGBH Boston’s NOVA series. Ray also contributed music to many other PBS, Ray at the keyboard, composing his music Discovery Channel and History Channel episodes plus creative work with museums and historical visitors’ centers throughout America, including the Harry Truman Museum, the theater at the National Archives Rotunda, the Museum of the Mississippi and the Brooklyn Historical Society. In 2004, he was commissioned to provide an arrangement for the Astoria Jazz Band, for inclusion in the 9th Annual Festival of Women in Jazz Composers at the Kennedy Center. Some of Ray’s compositions can be found on YouTube.

Ray taught music, performed and conducted at Endicott College from 1980 to 1992 before turning to full-time freelance music composing. Even then, he lectured regularly at Amherst College and Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts. He returned to teaching on the music faculty at Gordon College, also in Massachusetts, which became a passion for him. In 2007 Ray, an avid hiker, was honored by the Appalachian Mountain Club with the 4,000 Club plaque for completing the ascent of the 48 peaks over 4,000 feet high in New Hampshire. Ray was nearing the top of Nubble Peak in New Hampshire on a cold, stormy sixth of September, 2008, when he suddenly stopped breathing and his hiking companions were unable to revive him. At the time of his death, Ray was within 16 mountain ascents of achieving his goal of climbing the 100 highest mountains in New Hampshire.

According to Michael Finegold, conductor of the Essex Chamber Music Players, a memorial to Ray Loring, featuring the words of John Greenleaf Whittier’s “June on the Merrimack” which Ray had set to music, is in the works.