FI School Music Students Receive the Gift of Instruments

by Jane Ahrens
Musicians Alan and Mary Ann Raph
Musicians Alan and Mary Ann Raph

“It is just another testament to the power of our community and the far-reaching effects of the Internet.”  ~ Music Teacher Chris Dollar

Earlier this summer the Music Department at Fishers Island School identified the need for an instrument to be used by the students in the instrumental music program. The school started an online campaign to raise funds to buy a baritone saxophone through an online “crowd funding” website named indiegogo. The goal was to raise $4500 to purchase this instrument to help improve the balance of the instrumental ensembles and to give students a chance to experience performing on a new instrument.

Many in our great community began their support of the campaign by giving to the cause and by spreading the word. The call went out via individual emails, social media, and by posting, not once but twice, by Jane Ahrens on and our island Facebook page FishersIsland.NY.

The music department was contacted by a gentleman named Alan Raph from New Fairfield, CT. Mr. Raph is a retired musician (Trombone and Bass Trombone) whose accomplishments as a music educator and performer are too numerous to mention here – but highlights include NYC studio recordings and performances with Quincy Jones, Phillip Glass, NBC Opera Company, Paul Whitema, Bolshoi Ballet, American Opera Association, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Mel Torme, just to name a few. He also has performed as part of Broadway shows, motion pictures, and television shows such as Sesame Street, Bill Cosby, Name That Tune, The Godfather, The Producers, Midnight Cowboy, Hamburger Hill, Bananas, Kundun, Fog of War, Secret Window, and Taking Lives. In addition to his performance accomplishments he is published by many of the leading music publication houses including Carl Fisher, Alfred Music, Theo Presser, and Kindor Music. Mr. Raph currently directs the Danbury Brass Band, which has been performing for over 30 years in the New York Tri-state area.

The Raph’s donated baritone saxophone.

Mr. Raph and his wife Mary Ann, also a musician (Violin and Viola), were looking for a place to visit that they had never been to before. They decided that they wanted to find out more about Fishers Island and began to research the island in preparation for a visit. During their research on, they became aware of our campaign as a result of Mrs. Ahrens’s postings. Mr. and Mrs. Raph contacted us to let us know that they owned a baritone saxophone that they had purchased for their daughter, but was no longer being used. As musicians themselves and ardent supporters of the arts and arts education, they wanted this instrument to be actively used by student musicians. On Wednesday August 13, 2014, Mr. and Mrs. Raph made the journey from their home in New Fairfield, CT to Fishers Island to donate their baritone saxophone to the Fishers Island Music Department. Alan and Mary Ann spent the day on Fishers Island having a tour of the school, lunch at the News Café, and a tour of the Island, all the while taking advantage of the beauty and uniqueness of our community.

Another amazing instrument donation happened that same week. Ted and Ashley Harrington contacted Fishers Island School with the desire to donate a piano to the Music Department. This beautiful instrument, a Weser Bros. Upright Piano, was manufactured in New York City circa 1914. The instrument was moved out of the Harrington’s house, through some tight clearances and to the Fishers Island School by Tom Shillo and his team from Z&S Contracting.

The Fishers Island School Music Department is extremely grateful for these two instrument donations and they will be used to further the music education of our students here on Fishers Island.

Because we have reached our goal of obtaining a baritone saxophone, the online fundraising campaign will be coming to an end. The monies raised will be used to outfit, restore, maintain, and keep these instruments in good playing condition. We can’t thank everyone enough for their support of these efforts and your continued support for the performing arts education programs at Fishers Island School. If you have instruments that are not being used and you would like for them to be put in the hands of eager and passionate students of music, please feel free to contact Music Teacher Chris Dollar at or call the Fishers Island School at (631) 788-7444.

Music educators Alan Raph and Chris Dollar.
Music educators Alan Raph and Chris Dollar.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

A Fishers Island Community Center Program and the accompanying Fog Horn eNewsletter serve as the communications resource for the Fishers Island community. The content – news, calendar, links and photos, milestones, ads, and more create a clear image of Fishers to those on and off the island.

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