Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Music student jazzed by first-place composition

  • Print

When 17-year-old Devon Gillingham wrote the jazz piece Remember to Forget for an international student composition contest, he didn't write it because he wanted to win.

"It was just sort of an excuse to finish a tune with a deadline with that extra motivation," Gillingham said.

Despite that, the piece has made Gillingham, a Grade 12 student at Transcona Collegiate, the winner of the first Essentially Ellington Gerhard W. Vosshall Student Composition/Arranging contest.

For that, he will get to see and hear renowned jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York City record his piece at the Essentially Ellington festival May 10 to 12.

Daniel Steinhilber, Gillingham's music teacher, told him about the competition last November.

Although Steinhilber didn't know his student's chances, he thought Gillingham had a good shot at winning.

"I thought that he was definitely in the running to win. You never really know who else is going to be out there, so you can't be assured that someone is going to win, but I knew that he would be in the top," Steinhilber said.

Steinhilber began working with Gillingham when he was in Grade 6.

Gillingham eventually moved on to Transcona Collegiate, and Steinhilber later followed him there.

In between, Steinhilber founded the East Side Jazz Band, a local group he invited Gillingham to join as an upright bass player.

Gillingham also takes a composing and arranging course in school that Steinhilber said was designed specifically for him.

"We knew he would be doing these things and we wanted to allow him to do that within the framework of the school and give him credit for it," Steinhilber said.

The inspiration for Remember to Forget came after hearing the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra play the Vitoria Suite, a piece written by Marsalis, Gillingham said.

He said both pieces are influenced by swing and Latin music.

"Just in listening to that album many times, because it's a great album, the tune I wrote sort of came out like that," Gillingham said.

His love for jazz comes out of the improvisational aspect of the performance and having musicians play a different tune every time they approach a piece.

"Listening to people like (Marsalis), what they can do with a set of chord changes and his mind has always blown me away," Gillingham said.

When Gillingham goes to New York in May, he'll be nervous at the prospect of professional musicians taking on his piece, he said.

"They're not intimidating, but they are to me, as a kid who's seen them and listened to them a lot but would have never thought that I'm going to be meeting these people any time soon," he said.

Steinhilber said he's excited to see where this award takes Gillingham.

"Devon is the type of student that will create excellence in whatever situation he's in. All I've done is try to provide opportunities to grow and for him to find the next level.

"I've seen him grow from this 12-year-old kid to this really mature musician who has limitless potential. I'm pretty excited to see where this is going to take him," Steinhilber said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 26, 2013 A2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Andrew Ladd talks about his injury

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google