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A home-grown composer’s creative pursuit

Alumnus Trevor Gomes shares about his musical journey from Biola to Disney and beyond.  |  Tomber Su/THE CHIMES

 

Biola alumnus Trevor Gomes plays an influential role in Biola’s current music department, using his musical talents to teach, create and perform. Although serious about his responsibilities, he seeks to pursue his goals and impact Biola students while still having fun.

Adjunct and Assistant

As an adjunct faculty member, Gomes has worked as an accompanist, music director and composer on a variety of pieces for Biola’s orchestra and choruses. For example, his recent composition “How Do I Love Thee?” premiered during Biola Chorale’s performance at this year’s ACDA conference.

Gomes is also an assistant to J.A.C. Redford, a composer and orchestrator who has created many well-known film scores such as Avatar, WALL-E and Skyfall. Officially, Gomes currently works for Disney as an audition accompanist — though he takes on many personal projects as well.

“I get to do what I think is fun for a living,” Gomes said. “I love that what would have been my hobby anyway gets to be my job.”

Starting Out

He started writing music at 10-years-old, originally inspired by video game soundtracks from games such as “The Legend of Zelda,” “Final Fantasy” and “Chrono Trigger.” Once he realized music was his passion, at age 16 he knew he wanted to become a professional composer.

Gomes graduated from Biola in 2011 as a music composition major. Although he attended University of Cincinnati for grad school, he returned to La Mirada where he was born and raised. He admits it felt natural to stay in his hometown and continue to work with Biola.

“I just love Biola, I love the environment here and the mission statement,” Gomes said. “It’s something that I’m proud to be a part of.”

Flexibility and Personal Responsibility

Despite having a career centered around his passions, he feels a position as a musician can also be difficult because of its innate lack of structure. Most careers have specific schedules or work hours, but Gomes needs to have more flexibility and personal responsibility in his work.

“That’s the hardest thing, building some sort of structure into my life because it’s not there by default,” Gomes said.

When it comes to creating any new compositions, Gomes uses the same basic process. He usually creates what is called “absolute music,” or “music for music’s sake,” he said. This means the piece’s focus originates from his imagination rather than an external idea, starting with improvisation at the piano.

“It’s kind of like there’s an orchestra in your brain, and the more you get to know each individual instrument, the more that player in your brain has practiced and can play well,” Gomes said.

Uncertain Quality

However, pieces often turn out differently than expected. Live performers bring many unforeseen elements to his writing, as they perform music in unique ways. This can sometimes lead to failed performances, but occasionally it creates exceptional success.

“Most of what you write will not work out exactly as you imagine, but on the flip side, sometimes things sound far better,” Gomes said.

Gomes believes welcoming failure is an especially important thing to learn as a musician — or as any kind of creator. He shared how it was initially difficult for him to admit mistakes, but he learned the most from pieces that did not go well. These inspired him to move forward and try new things, which otherwise would not have been possible.

“Something that I really hope to teach my students is to feel very, very comfortable making mistakes when it comes to creativity,” Gomes said. “Be discouraged as little as possible by it and just keep going… recognize that’s just a very natural part of the process. And of course, enjoy the successes.”

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