From a young age, Steven Gordon has been surrounded by music. With his parents, he attended orchestral concerts, witnessed jazz trios, and looked on at Stevie Wonder’s concerts. Now, as a high school senior involved with Samo’s Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Madrigals choir, Gordon has been spending more and more time in the spotlight.
While Gordon is a newcomer to Madrigals choir, he is a natural when it comes to piano — he has studied piano since age six.
“I was particularly drawn to the piano because of its immense sound ability to play such a wide variety of styles,” Gordon said.
When Gordon was twelve, his father introduced him to the work of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Inspired by Peterson, Gordon evolved into an accomplished jazz pianist as well.
“Music, including jazz, is such a fantastic medium of expression. It pushes me to discover and create, two qualities I believe particularly important,” Gordon said.
Not only is Gordon a pianist and a member of choir, he also plays clarinet, organ and guitar.
“Steven is just a boss. His musical abilities are astounding and he is definitely going places. Every time he plays the piano, I’m amazed- it’s as if it’s second nature to him. I can say, ‘Steven lets do a Coldplay song,’ and he can bust it out then and there,” senior Lucy Walsh said.
Many budding musicians claim their parents consistently nag them to practice, but Steven Gordon is not one of them.
“My parents never pushed me to practice, and because of this I think I came to love playing. Sometimes I do not feel like playing and will go many days without playing music. But I always find myself singing a melody, hearing sounds in my head,” Gordon said. “I practice so I can play with others. Music is about people, and the connections you form while performing.”
Last year, Gordon was the pianist for the California Honor All-State Jazz Band, receiving the Soloist Award at the Western States Jazz Festival. He was also recognized with an award for his musical composition in the 2009-2010 Reflections competition.
“In recent months, I’ve really started diving into writing my own music. Over the summer I worked on the music for a short film, and since then I’ve been writing music focused around a story or a character,” Gordon said.
The summer program which Gordon attended took place at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. It was there that Gordon became interested in composing music for silent films and where he took on projects with other student composers.
In addition to his duties as an instrumentalist, Steven Gordon is the president of the Jazz club and the co-president of Human Rights club, a Samo organization that raises awareness about issues that affect the community. Sure enough, he makes sure music plays a part in this club.
“Music has the power to bring attention to issues I care about that otherwise may be neglected. The Human Rights Club put on a benefit concert last year bringing attention to children’s rights abuses in the juvenile justice system,” Gordon said. “It’s important to bring together the musicians at Samo with organizations like Human Rights Watch. Playing with the Samo Jazz Combo at the annual human rights watch banquet hosted by Morgan Freeman was exciting, not only because the reception to the music, but because donors were excited to give to an organization supported by youth, musicians and members of the Human Rights Club.”
While much of Steven Gordon’s life is accompanied by a melody, he recognizes that music is only one aspect of himself.
“It is extremely important for an individual to be balanced,” Gordon said.
Therefore, in his spare time, Gordon enjoys running, “relaxing with friends,” swimming at the beach, taking hikes, practicing yoga and traveling.
“My parents have always made time and saved funds for us to travel, and I am very grateful to them for this,” Gordon said. “Traveling reminds me to take chances and enjoy the adventure. After all, that’s what life is one big adventure!”
Gordon’s most recent adventure was the “Phantom of Barnum Hall” band concert in which Gordon played the organ.
“Steven Gordon is an absolutely phenomenal musician,” band teacher Michael Corrigan said. “He played the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in Friday’s band concert as the featured musician.”
Besides this, Gordon has an upcoming musical performance at the Sheraton Delphina Hotel on Nov. 19 where he will play with the Samo Jazz Combo. Gordon’s long-term goal is to create his own film which will feature his original music.
“It’s a feeling like no other, performing for others and working with others to create music. When a song truly comes together, everyone playing just looks up and smiles — it’s that ‘aha!’ moment we strive for.”