Brighton High School Orchestra Commissions Gates

Carma Wadley

Deseret News | Friday, April 25, 2008

"It's a gorgeous piece," adds Jeff Cardon, who plays the bass and is president of the orchestra. "It's epic, but soothing, too. It's packed with so many 'wow, in your face moments.' It keeps you on the edge of your seat because you don't know what to expect next."

"I love the piece. All the brass is just brilliant," says Kyle Gibbons, who plays the trumpet. "And the harmonies just jump out. You have to speak the language to really get it, but Mr. Madsen has taught us to speak the language. He and Gates — they're both brilliant."

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."

Gates has been so pleased with the whole experience that he planned to donate the work to the school. "We didn't feel quite right about that," Madsen says. "Our principal, Rebecca Laney, suggested that the school make a donation in Dr. Gates' name to the charity of his choice, so that's what we're going to do."

Not that you could in any way put a price tag on the experience, he says; it has been priceless.

Gates hopes to have "Brighton Processional" published so it can be played by other high school orchestras — at least, the better ones, he jokes, not the average ones.
But that's what high school orchestras are all about, he says. They are about stretching, rising to the challenge, proving to yourself that you can achieve something more. And they are about falling in love with music, if not professionally at least personally, for a lifetime.

"What happens in this room," he says, "can put students on the right track forever."

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