Gavin Chuck

Executive Director, Composer

I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, a place that bursts at the seams with music. Everybody had a radio on during the day, and at night you couldn’t help hearing raucous dance hall tunes blared from speakers at competing street parties all around the city. When it wasn’t the partygoers, it was the churchgoers making a joyful noise up and down the crowded streets.

It was after I left for college in the U.S. that I really got into composition, even though I ended up becoming interested in music very different from what surrounded me at home. I still wonder about how the music from one half of my life is connected to the other. Two sides of the same coin, probably.

The third side of the coin is my research into musical meaning, which combines music theory and cognitive science. While studying composition at Oberlin and Eastman, I took to theory. Now that I think about it, I liked music theory even as a kid, studying outside the studios of my piano teachers from a text published by the very colonial Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Anyway, there was nothing in that Little Red Book about cognitive linguistics and anthropology yet I somehow managed to connect them with music theory.

Ultimately, I love that I’m bursting at the seams with music: teaching music at Northwestern University, writing about music, composing music, and, of course, putting on concerts and producing records of new music. All fantastic connections.