On Saturday, June 24, family, friends and supporters of Robert Burton — former teacher and director of Meadowdale High School’s choir and founder of MHS’s renowned jazz choral group The Impressions — will gather to celebrate his 90th birthday. Appropriately, this celebration will take the form of a grand MHS alumni reunion, to catch up, reminisce and, of course, to sing a little.
The MHS Impressions, Choir Reunion and Birthday Bash will take place at the Edmonds Waterfront Center (220 Railroad Ave., Edmonds) starting at 5 p.m.
A lifelong Edmonds resident, Burton started the newly opened Meadowdale High School’s music program in fall 1963, taught bands and music theory, and formed the first MHS Choir and select vocal ensemble The Impressions in 1964. He joined his fellow MHS faculty and staff in recognizing MHS’s first graduating class in 1965. Burton’s family figures that some 2,700 young people participated in the vocal music program alone during the years Burton taught at Meadowdale High School.
The Grand Burton Reunion’s RSVP list indicates that students from each of these 26 graduating classes are planning to attend the June 24 event, some coming from as far as Japan, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.
According to an announcement from reunion organizers:
While choirs were standard features of many high school music programs at the time Burton began teaching, vocal jazz ensembles were still relatively early in their popularity. It’s fair to say that the success of Burton’s Impressions over the following decades helped to inspire and generate vocal jazz programs in other parts of the region, which included notable and outstanding music programs at schools in the Edmonds area and throughout the Northwest. Meadowdale High School vocal music programs led by Jeff Horenstein today are among the most highly regarded programs in the state.”
For Barbara Burton, who is organizing this event with the help of her brother Richard Burton and sister Carol Burton, this event is about more than just celebrating her father’s landmark 90th birthday. They believe that their father created a program that built community, creativity, confidence and joy.
The announcement concluded:
By celebrating Robert Burton’s 90th birthday, those gathered will be celebrating the joy of singing together, and being together, across all differences and abilities.
Learn more at www.mhschoirimpsreunion.com.