Choral Conversations — Greg Gilpin

Originally from the “Show-Me” state of Missouri, Greg resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education, K-12.

Greg is a well-known ASCAP award-winning choral composer and arranger with hundreds of publications to his credit.  He is also in demand as a conductor for choral festivals and all-district and all-state choirs, and is a member of MENC and ACDA.  As Director of Educational Choral Publications for Shawnee Press, Inc., Greg oversees creation of the educational music products for this distinguished publisher.

At home in Indianapolis, Greg is busy as a studio musician and producer in the recording industry. These projects include commercial jingles, CD projects, Broadway and Disney.  He has worked musically with Ray Boltz, Bill and Gloria Gaither, Sandi Patty, and David Clydesdale, as well as principal pops conductor Jack Everly and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Greg Gilpin is a talented, energetic, warm and funny person.  I have had the pleasure of working with him in Illinois as well as Washington.  The energy and enthusiasm he brings to workshops, not to mention his compositions, is remarkable.  If you have attended his workshops or performed any of his works, you will know this all to be true.  If you haven’t… what are you waiting for?  We are so pleased and honored that he was able to make some time for us to participate in our Choral Conversations Blog.  Thank you Greg!!!

When did you begin in music?  I started piano lessons before kindergarten.

Did you have an “a-ha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?  I think my first “a-ha” moment when I knew I loved choral music (and this is in hindsight) is hearing our high school choir sing “You Are So Beautiful” at the spring concert and saying out loud to a friend, “I want to be in that choir next year.”  I remember loving the choral sound.

What kinds of things inspire you?  I love to hear other people’s music; movie scores, texts are very inspiring, books, quiet time and other people’s stories and experiences.

What inspired you to become a composer?  At first, I wanted to express myself in a way I “thought” was disguising my true feelings but in reality was expressing them even more clearly.  Now, I so enjoy the fact that a text can be enhanced and expressed more powerfully through the musical form.  I just love creating an atmosphere of emotion and perhaps letting others feel something they normally would not feel simply by the written word.

What would you say defines your style?  I really pride myself in the diversity of my writing.

Tell me one thing that people might not know about you?  I’m an introvert.

What are you working on now?   In addition to editing, recording, and preparing a new release of choral music for Shawnee Press, I’m also working on a couple of commissions and preparing for my 2012 Carnegie Hall concert.

What is your all-time favorite choral piece by another composer?  I honestly have no one favorite.  I truly enjoy parts of so many works.  Most of the time I am more moved by a melody more then anything else.

Do you have any advice or tips for those interested in composing?  Don’t put every idea you have into one work.  I did this at the beginning and I see this in many young composers’ works.  Find that “one thing” and make it wonderful.

Would you say that music comes to you more often through slow, careful planning, or by sudden inspiration?  I think the “idea” of something comes to me with sudden inspiration.  The resulting work, if there is one, comes through more careful thought and planning.

What are your favorite texts to set to music?  The ones that inspire me!  The ones that make me hear a melody in my head and cause me to hesitate and think.

What is your favorite thing about composing?  I love the isolation when working and the satisfaction of discovering the music within the text.  It’s like a puzzle that leads you to a treasure.

 

INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO-TYPE QUESTIONS

  • What is your favorite word?  Try
  • What is your least favorite word?  Fear
  • What sound or noise do you love?  A storm
  • What sound or noise do you hate?  Fingernails on dirty glass or car paint.  I know, weird.
  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Personal finance
  • What is your personal favorite composition?  I must say I am proud of and enjoy “Why We Sing.”  I have a text and melody no one has heard that I play as a favorite.  It just has not found its time in the sun, yet.
  • What is on your iPod?  I don’t use one!  I still put in CDs.  Believe it or not, my radio is always on talk stations!  If I’m on vacation, I always bring Linda Ronstadt’s CD Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind.
  • Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with, living or dead, that you haven’t yet?  As a songwriter, I would love to write with and learn from Dolly Parton.  I’m also a big fan of Jimmy Webb.  Do you know his song “Shattered”?
  • If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only have the music of one composer other than yourself, who would it be?  I’m being redundant, and though I enjoy so many styles and types of music, especially instrumental music, I think I would want the stories and words of Dolly Parton to keep me company.  She would bring me laughter, love and tears.

Thank you again, Greg, for taking time to share with us.  Click here to check out more incredible choral music by Greg Gilpin.

If you are in the Washington area next summer, come and see him at our Summer Choral Clinic in July.

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