Longtime BJSO maestro Crawford Gates dies at 96

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Crawford Gates, the longtime musical director for the Beloit Janesville Symphony, the Rockford Symphony and the Quincy Symphony, died Friday at the age of 96.

Gates joined the Beloit College music faculty in 1966 and immediately was directing the Beloit Janesville Symphony until he passed the baton to Rob Tomaro in 1999. He served with the Quincy Symphony from 1969 to 1970 and with the Rockford Symphony from 1970 to 1986.

He was a musical composer and several of his pieces were performed by the various symphony orchestras he directed.

Current musical director and conductor for the Beloit Janesville Symphony, Rob Tomaro, said Gates will be remembered not only as a great conductor, but as a skilled composer of music.

"During his 34-year tenure as music director and conductor of the Beloit Janesville Symphony, Dr. Gates, in addition to his conducting career, also ascended to prominence as one of the most innovative and groundbreaking composers of contemporary American symphonic music," Tomaro said in a written statement. "Building upon the legacy of our orchestra's founder, Maestro Lewis Dalvit, the BJSO flourished under Maestro Gates' baton to become one of the most respected regional orchestras in the Midwest.

"To this day, the legacy of his love and warmth pours forth from our orchestra into the performances we offer to our community. Crawford loved the BJSO and gave his heart and soul to every performance, and I think of him and honor him every time I step onto the podium of the orchestra he built for us here in Rock County," Tomaro said.

The Janesville Beloit Symphony will dedicate its upcoming concerts on July 3 and 4 in Beloit and Janesville to Gates and feature some of his music, Tomaro said.

Prior to coming to Beloit, Gates taught at Brigham Young University, where he earned his master's degree, from 1948 to 1960. He earned his doctorate degree at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Gates was born in San Francisco, California and was raised in Palo Alto, California.

Gates passed away on June 8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on June 23 at the LDS chapel at 2255 South Wasatch Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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