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Brighton High School Orchestra Commissions Gates

Carma Wadley

Deseret News | Friday, April 25, 2008

That kind of response tickles Gates. "There are some people who maintain that classical music is dying. Here's a perfect example that it's not. I respect the students' enthusiasm for the piece. That's something that, as a composer, you can't demand. You can't even expect it. It happens spontaneously, and when it happens, it's a marvelous thing."

So many pieces, he says, "die before they even get to be performed. For a composer to meet this enthusiastic response is the best thing that can happen."

"We had the strings piece in our music library," Madsen explains, "and last fall we decided to play it. I thought it would be nice if we invited Dr. Gates to come to the concert." That led to an invitation for Gates to come to the class to talk about his career. "I casually asked him if he still had any composing time and if he'd be interested in doing something for us."

Gates was interested, but his busy schedule meant it would have to wait until spring. "He called me in February," Madsen says. "He delivered the piece by the end of March."
Composing is an interesting thought process, Gates says. "One night after I had gone to bed, the tune just came to me. I got up and wrote it down in about five minutes."

From there, of course, it was expanded, refined and polished. It is a four-minute composition done in a three-part format, "and I wanted to add a surprise at the end."
And yes, he says, it is challenging. "I had heard the orchestra play, so I knew where they were. But I wrote above that level. I wanted them to have to reach for it. I knew they could do it."

In fact, he told the students during a recent rehearsal, "I thought of you the whole time I was working on this. This is not a typical high school piece, but I know you will rise to what you can do. I love you all. This has been such a happy experience for me."
It has been a great experience for the students as well.
"It's an incredible opportunity to have a local composer come here," says Courtney Riech, who plays the cello. "As students, we're so lucky to be able to work with someone who is so renowned."
"I didn't know him before," flutist Cindy Lodder says, "but now I've listened to a lot of his music and I really like it. I love this piece. It's really pretty. This experience is just awesome."

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