CLAIM TO FAME: Connor Gibbs ’17, a high school chorus teacher by day, uses much of his free time to compose music for voice and all kinds of instruments. Although it has only been two years since he finished his bachelor’s degree in music, his works have been performed at his collegiate alma mater and around the world.
MUSICAL JOURNEYS: In 2018, Gibbs traveled to Texas, England, and Cyprus to participate in composition workshops and hear his music performed. This spring, one of his works for string orchestra was premiered in Lviv, Ukraine, while the Wagner College Choir premiered a choral work in Staten Island. This summer, he is traveling to Boise, Idaho, and Pavia, Italy, for more concerts featuring his songs and a string quartet.
POSITIVE FEEDBACK: “I do hope that the musical events will lead to further opportunities for me to write new music and see it brought to life,” he said. “It can be a little addicting to get some special treatment on your own artistic creation, especially in a world where music and the arts can be underappreciated.”
INSTRUMENTAL ARRAY: Gibbs has written pieces for all of the instruments shown in the photo, taken in the chorus room at Springfield Central High School in Western Massachusetts, where he teaches. Gibbs is holding a bassoon; to his right are an alto saxophone and a French horn; behind him, a violin, cello, and bass. Next to his left foot lie an oboe, clarinet, and flute. Behind the flute is a waterphone. One side of a glockenspiel is peeking from the photo’s right edge, and the small pianos are part of the expanded toy piano project that Gibbs created.
EXPANDED WHAT? Gibbs has created an instrument that links together five toy pianos, modified to produce pitches across nine octaves, giving the array a range greater than that of a grand piano. He has incorporated the waterphone, which can be bowed or drummed to produce an ethereal sound, into a piece called “Void” that also employs the glockenspiel and toy piano. “I get interested in weird stuff,” he admits.
INSPIRATION: Gibbs loves exploring the full variety of instruments, from E-flat clarinet to alto flute, in order to learn more about them. But his main aim is to entertain his listeners and create memorable moments that linger in the ear. He is inspired by the Impressionist music of Claude Debussy and the melodies of Franz Schubert. Go to his website to enjoy his music for yourself!