Chaco Canyon Symphony

Gary Gackstatter is an active artist, composer, conductor, clinician, performer and teacher, teaching at STLCC Meramec as Coordinator of Music and conductor of the Symphonic Band and Meramec Orchestra since 2007. He has served as conductor at Cowley College, Southwestern College and Wichita State University, and has 12 years of public school teaching experience. He holds a BME from Southwestern Oklahoma State and a MMP/Conducting from Wichita State University. His groups have been featured at Missouri Music Educators Association, Kansas Music Educators Association and Kansas Bandmasters Association state conventions, and have won many regional and state awards. Gackstatter is a two-time Kansas Governor’s Arts Award Winner and is the 2017 Missouri Humanities Council Excellence in Education award winner.

Gackstatter has been the clinician/conductor for district and state festival bands, orchestras and jazz bands, as well as over 400 high school band and orchestra clinics since 1990. An active performer, Gackstatter has won the WSU Concerto-Aria competition, and has toured and recorded as a soloist and member of the 5 Man Trio, with five CD’s of original acoustic music, performing on acoustic guitar, bass, mandolin, trumpet and trombone. He is directly responsible for many art events including symphonic debuts, band/orchestra festivals, internationally known guest artists, and projects combining multiple art forms. His published compositions (with C. Alan Publications) are performed internationally and his vision to combine the various arts genres in performances has gained national attention.

Gackstatter has composed six symphonies, each combining music with other arts. He has arranged symphony debuts for Sam Bush, R. Carlos Nakai, Laura Love, Trio Globo, Three Dog Night, Kansas, John Gorka, Barbara Higbie, John McCutcheon, Tom Chapin and the Paul Winter Consort. He has conducted premiere performances of Elmer Bernstein film scores To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape, and two symphonies by cellist Eugene Friesen: Grasslands and Carl Sandburg’s Prairie. His most recent work is Symphony Chaco: A Journey of the Spirit.

Gackstatter has authored three books: Your Musical Journey (Kendall-Hunt), a music appreciation textbook; Pen and Ink, a book of his writings and drawings, and, most recently, The Spark: Notes from the Podium, a series of short meditations on teaching music.

Also a pen and ink artist, Gackstatter’s work has been featured at several shows including the St Louis Art Fair.