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Bainbridge high schooler writes music for the Seattle Symphony

Webster Gadbois will have one of his original compositions performed next week in concert by the Seattle Symphony. - Courtesy of Elizabeth Gadbois
Webster Gadbois will have one of his original compositions performed next week in concert by the Seattle Symphony.
— image credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Gadbois

Music can produce tears and incite laughter. It can bring people together and hold memories.

And it can take a 15-year-old Bainbridge Island student to the prestigious halls of the Seattle Symphony.

Primarily a piano player, islander Webster Gadbois began his musical journey when he was just 7. He witnessed his father playing around on the keys and became fascinated. After learning a few major and minor keys, he started piecing together how a song could be written.

“After I figured out how it worked, I started hearing music in my head and started writing, and it just sort of took off,” he said.

He began his musical studies, learning theory and writing his own compositions. It has lead him to this moment, where the Seattle Symphony will perform his work before him and a packed audience at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

The symphony is hosting a night of performing the work of pre-college composers on May 1. Gadbois is one such honoree among the up-and-coming generation of composers.

The Bainbridge High School sophomore’s musical piece, “Arcus,” Latin for “rainbow,” was written earlier this year.

“When I wrote the piece, the winter weather was duking it out with the spring weather,” Gadbois said. “It was raining, and hailing, and out of all this chaos a rainbow appeared and it had all these clashing colors.”

The nature of clashing elements seemed to fit his composition, which carries a variety of tones and shifts.

“When you listen to the piece there are all these different colors, there’s a happy part, a sad part, a jazzy part, there’s tonality shifts throughout it, and that is what I think makes this piece unique,” Gadbois said.

For Gadbois, it is a new experience a few levels.

On one hand, his work will be presented back to him. And also, it is a new venture composing for multiple instruments.

“This piece is a new direction for my music; it’s really opened up a lot of educational experiences,” Gadbois said. “There is no piano. It is my second time trying to write with different instruments than the pianos.”

Gadbois hopes that the music will be enjoyed by others as much as he enjoyed writing it.

“I’m not as good expressing things with words, but when people hear my music they can understand what I’m feeling. I just want my voice to be heard,” Gadbois said. “And music transcends things like gender, race or even species. I even catch my dog listening to me play sometimes.”

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