WBU professor's composition performed by Navy band

Dr. Gary Belshaw, assistant professor of piano pedagogy at Wayland Baptist University, visited Annapolis, Md. on May 11 to hear the U.S. Naval Academy Band perform one of his original compositions.

The composition is titled "Wind Sculptures" and is a concerto in three movements for trombone and band. The piece was completed in the summer of 2000 as his doctoral dissertation for Texas Tech University. The composition was premiered Dec. 5, 2000, in a concert by the Texas Tech Symphonic Winds, featuring Don Lucas, professor of trombone at Tech, as soloist.

The recent performance was part of the Annapolis Music Festival, an invitational program for East Coast school bands. LTJG Kenneth C. Collins conducted the concert band's performance, with Lucas featured as soloist again.

Belshaw said the honor came almost as a fluke, as a band member was visiting with one of his former instructors at Tech. She listened to part of the composition and wanted to hear the rest.

"They asked for a tape and a copy of the score. Then the band leader called two weeks later to tell me they were going to play the piece," Belshaw said. "I was completely elated. I thought for as new as this piece was, to have contact with a group that prestigious was too good to be true."

Belshaw said his amazement was how the whole chain of events happened so quickly, since most composers sent many scores out before ever getting that type of success.

"I have sent out scores and people may never actually get around to listening to it. They not only listened to it right away but set something up to play it right away," he said.

The 64-member Naval Academy Band, commonly called "The Navy's Oldest and Finest Band," is in its 148th year of service to the academy and the nation. Belshaw said just standing on the Naval Academy campus was awesome, given its rich history and patriotic feel.

Another affirmation of his work came when the Naval Band directors told Belshaw they would love to play more of his work.

"They can't really commission me to write something, but they did say they'd play nearly anything I wrote," Belshaw said. "That's my plan for the summer, just writing everything I can."

While in Annapolis, Belshaw also attended the first rehearsal of "On a Lake, Five by Five," a set of five miniatures for solo trombone and trombone quartet he composed this spring for Lucas. The composition will be performed at the Texas Bandmaster's Association Convention in San Antonio this July.

Belshaw is in his first year at Wayland. He holds a PhD in Fine Arts with an option in music composition from Texas Tech. He is a native of Maryland, having graduated high school there.