Artists of Promise Winners Composed of Talented Musicians

Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Josh Gottry

Josh Gottry, CGCC Adjunct

Josh Gottry is a freelance musician who has been part of the adjunct music faculty at CGCC since 2003. He plays percussion professionally, is an active composer with about 125 published compositions, and teaches percussion, both privately and as a percussion specialist with Gilbert Public Schools.

At CGCC, Mr. Gottry has taught music theory courses, music humanities courses, percussion ensemble, percussion lessons, and composition lessons. One of those courses in particular, MTC240 Music Composition, has resulted in notable success from his CGCC students through the Artists of Promise competitions.  

We talked with Mr. Gottry to learn more about his course and some of recent accomplishments of the Coyote musicians. 

What do students learn in your composition class?

Mr. Gottry: The composition class is structured as weekly private lessons, allowing me to customize instruction for each student based on experience and their focus area of composition. Students typically start by writing solo works for their own instrumental or vocal area, then shift to solos for other instruments and/or small chamber ensembles. As students continue, their projects tend to become more substantial in length, complexity, and ensemble size. The course can be repeated for credit up to four times, so I consistently see significant growth over multiple semesters of composition study and practice. In addition to the private lessons, we meet twice each semester in a studio masterclass setting to share and offer peer feedback on projects in process. Composing is such a solitary activity, that these studio sessions can be very beneficial in terms of community support and engagement in the creative process.

What is the Artists of Promise competition?

Mr. Gottry: The Maricopa Community College District Artists of Promise competition encompasses multiple art forms and provides an opportunity to highlight excellence in the arts by Maricopa Community College students. In addition to written feedback on all entries, the top three students in each category receive cash prizes, and there is an evening reserved each spring semester for a special showcase and performance featuring the first-place winners.

How have your Music Competition students placed in this competition?

Mr. Gottry: Our CGCC students have done quite well! In the 2021-2022 school year, one of our composers was selected as the first-place winner for his solo bassoon composition. Last year, student composers from our campus claimed the top three places in the competition, with the winning performance being a work for mixed instrumental chamber ensemble. This year, CGCC students claimed the top two places in the competition. The winning work, a woodwind quintet, was performed by a CGCC student ensemble at Paradise Valley Community College on March 19, 2024.

The 2022 Winning Composition is a performance by Joey Kluesener of Steven Fuller-Andelich's work for solo bassoon.

Performance by Joey Kleusener of Steven Fuller-Andelich's solo bassoon composition "The Trees I Saw Dancing" at the 2022 Artists of Promise concert. Photo by Bivona Photography, LLC. 

How has your class and other CGCC courses prepared them for this success?

Mr. Gottry: All the adjunct and residential faculty in the music program at CGCC strive to help students make connections between each area of their music studies. These students are taking private lessons in voice or on their primary instrument, take multiple semesters of music theory, study music history and culture, and play or sing in ensembles. All these different ways that they interact with music can influence their creative efforts as composers. Additionally, we encourage our students to interact with colleagues and other professionals in their community. The arts world thrives on connection and collaboration, so those peer and professional relationships are vital to their success in this program, in competitions like the Artists of Promise, and in their future professional activities.

What other opportunities are available for your students?

Mr. Gottry: For many of these students, participation in this composition class is their first structured activity as a composer. Completing a couple of pieces in that first semester of study is in itself a huge accomplishment. However, we are always looking towards next steps and next opportunities. The district competition provides them with professional feedback and comparison with their local peers, but there are numerous other national and international student composition contests available for those that choose to do extra. We also encourage them to secure performances of their pieces, either on or off our campus, by students or in some cases by professionals. Completing a piece and seeing it laid out professionally is great, but there is nothing like hearing someone else bring your music to life in performance!

How do your professional activities influence your composition teaching?

Mr. Gottry: I think one of the greatest assets to me as a composition teacher is my activity as a composer. Like my students, I'm spending time each week working on the creation of new music. I have struggled with writer's block and ideas that I can't seem to figure out where they go next, just like my students, so I know some of the tools to work around and get past those struggles. I have gotten to the editing phase of composing that is much more detail oriented and less creative, but I know the value of a professionally engraved score, so I can help motivate and guide my students as they make those edits and fine tune their work to both look and sound exceptional. I've secured high-profile performances, publication contracts, performance royalties, and composition competition wins, so I am prepared to equip these students not only with musical skills, but also professional skills that will serve them well in the other parts of being a successful composer. I love being a teacher and engaging with the remarkable creativity these students bring to their lessons, but it is only because I am an active composer that I am able to best serve them in their efforts.

The 2023 Winning Composition is a performance by a CGCC student ensemble of Killian Marksberry's work for mixed chamber ensemble entitled "Proximal Conversations." Bivona Photography LLC.

Performance by a CGCC student ensemble of Killian Marksberry's work for mixed chamber ensemble entitled "Proximal Conversations" at the 2023 Artists of Promise Concert. Photo by Bivona Photography, LLC.

Performance of Don Basemore's woodwind quintet from the Artists of Promise concert. Photo credit: Bivona Photography LLC.

Performance by a CGCC student ensemble of Don Basemore's woodwind quintet "Unfamiliar Woodlands" at the 2024 Artists of Promise concert. Photo by Bivona Photography, LLC.

CGCC is thankful for those efforts from Mr. Gottry and the rest of the adjunct and faculty members who enable our students to embrace the arts. Explore more about the music program and other opportunities available at