Student Artist of the Month: Webster Gadbois

Gadbois playing his piece “Euphoria” with PHS Orchestra in preparation for the 2013 winter concert.

Webster Gadbois ’14 is a composer of classical music. His training in piano and composing has given him many opportunities to experiment creatively with music. Because Gadbois started playing at a very young age, his skill and interest have developed considerably. Currently, he studies composition at Juilliard Pre-College and is considering a career in the field. Gadbois has garnered much praise and recognition for his musical achievements, including the New Jersey Music Educators Association’s Grand Prize for Composition in the high school division. He maintains a site at

How long have you been composing music?

About nine years now. Once I started taking private piano lessons, I started hearing [music] in my head, so [my songwriting] … went on from there.

How would you describe your compositions?

That’s a hard one.  They tend to fall more into the tonal aspect of [music] … I would say [my music is] accessible, but it’s not entirely “oom chuck chuck” [i.e. electronic] or boring.

Why are you drawn to classical music, as opposed to other genres? What is it about that genre that appeals to you?

This is biased, but I would say that, in some sense, classical music is … bigger. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been hearing it for a long time, [but] with other music … if you listen to it long enough it starts to get a little boring … With classical music, the more you listen to it, the more you like it. It has the opposite effect on you.

What is your opinion on the fact that many musicians today depend on computers and technology to produce and compose their music?

I think with composers … you really have to have a foundation of writing [by hand]. Just practice your writing skills; it’s almost like writing words. It’s better to write [words] by hand at first, just so you can get the flow of it better, and then, go in and type it later; music’s kind of similar in that regard.

What artists inspire you the most?

I love early 20th century music right now. [My inspiration] changes, it really does. Honestly, I think that there’s a link between visual art, written art, and musical art … The process of thinking it through is really the same, overall. And honestly, if I look at [a piece of art] and I like it, I’ll study more into it, and if I like [the artist’s other works] … I’m inspired by [that artist], in some sense of the word.

Can you describe the best, or one of the best, experiences of your musical career?

I guess what got me into seriously considering music as a career—versus just doing it for fun—[was when] I went to summer camp in Colorado, up in the mountains, like 9,000, 10,000 feet up there … [It] was really an eye-opening experience, [seeing] how much people love music and care about it … That was really inspiring.

What are your future plans, relating to music?

This is probably one of the toughest questions … Ever since I was a kid I was told that my stuff sounded kind of cinematic. And I guess if I were to consider a career in nothing but music, I would … probably [consider] film-scoring, or maybe scoring for games, or something along [those] lines.