Henry Bridges Jr., Founder of Community School of the Arts, Passes Away at 91

Henry Bridges Jr.—founder of Community School of the Arts (CSA) in Charlotte, NC; former Guild trustee; and 1994 Guild Leadership Awardee—passed away on March 20. Henry officially founded CSA in 1971 and became its first teacher, serving 20 second- and third-grade students, selected from an applicant pool of 150, who met with Henry at a Church five days a week to study piano, choir, sight singing, and music theory. While Henry served as executive director he led the School to expand its outreach lessons to nearby schools, centers, and the former Piedmont Courts housing community, and experimented with trends in private instruction.

"Religion, the arts and education are all central to life," Henry told an interviewer in 1989. "They are really three facets of the same thing. You don't go to a museum without having some kind of transcendental experience. The same can be said of dance, music and theater — they're all interrelated. Central to the core of the universe are a belief in God, creativity and consciousness. That's what the arts are all about.”

Henry was also a dedicated member of the National Guild community. Lolita Mayadas, former director of the National Guild, remembers Henry’s role in supporting the Guild during difficult times:

"In the early eighties, during one of the most critical periods in its history the Guild found itself without an executive director, without a functioning board president and without the means to survive. Into this vacuum stepped Henry Bridges, the founder and director of Charlotte’s Community Music School in North Carolina. Henry was the Guild’s Vice President, having served as a Board member since 1975. With his laid-back, courteous manner, and gentle sense of humor he could easily be taken for a classic Southern Gentleman. But behind that graceful fa├žade there lived a determined and natural-born leader. Without fuss or fanfare, he just took charge. Never has a “coup” such as this been greeted with greater relief. This much is certain: were it not for Henry, the Guild would surely have folded."

You can learn more about Community School of the Arts and Henry’s legacy here.

Published: March 21, 2018