As a four-year-old Gary Hemenway’s first musical question to his mother was, “when do I get to play piano in church?” Raised in the small Eastern Oregon town of Pilot Rock, Hemenway’s early interest (largely due to his parents influence and AM radio) grew to encompass a wide variety of musical styles. As a pre-teen he was captured by the sounds of Andre’ Crouch and the Disciples, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Chicago, and The Temptations. But it was while under the tutelage of Dr. Dennis Plies, Dr. Thomas A. Miller, and the late Dr. Dennis Esselstrom at Warner Pacific College in arts-rich Portland, Oregon that Gary saw his abilities expand. With a passion for excellence and a newfound love for many styles of music countless doors have been opened to him.
Hemenway’s diverse abilities have afforded him plentiful opportunities working in the fields of soundtrack, production, direction, composing/arranging, teaching, workshops, & live performance work. His work has appeared throughout the world in Nike & Avia videos and events, and at the World Olympics. His live performance work has taken him throughout the U.S., South Pacific, Europe and Asia.
Amongst his many musical abilities choral work has become one of his greatest musical strengths. As the Music Director for the Oregon Symphony’s Northwest Community Gospel Choir for 17 years, he has enjoyed working with the Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony on their annual Gospel Christmas concerts. Gary also serves as the Artistic Director for the Walla Walla Choral Society.
His other credits include Weiden & Kennedy, Newton & Bard Studios, Will Vinton Studios, Scream Music, Kung Fu Bakery Studios, The Portland Rose Festival, The Oregon Symphony (David Byrne, Gospel Christmas, Rufus Wainwright, Byron Stripling, Carmen Bradford, Ted Louis Levy, Roberta Flack), Billy Graham Crusades, The Heritage Singers, and George Fox University. His greatest joy has been found in the people that he has worked with. They include Dr. Charles Floyd, Don Lewis, Scott Steed, Mick Gillette and Lenny Pickett of Tower of Power, Clipper Anderson, Mac Arnold, Graham Lear (Santana), Mark Schulman (Cher, Foreigner), Daniel Cox, Gary Hobbs (Stan Kenton), Anthony Jones (Pink Martini), Clark Bondy, Renato Curanto (Bernard Purdie & Esperanza Spalding), Tim Ellis, Saeeda Wright (Prince & Liv Warfield), Patrick Lamb, Gavin Bondy (Pink Martini), the late Chris Kent, Phil Baker (Pink Martini), Chris Lizotte, Steve Camp, Randy Stonehill, Mark & Sarah McMillan, the late Bruce Carter, and many others.
Gary has composed and arranged numerous vocal, choral and instrumental pieces in every style from classical, and film score, to gospel, jazz, pop, and rock. He has numerous recordings of his original compositions and arrangements. He frequently enjoys working with schools, colleges, choirs, and churches as a guest musician, clinician, director, and highly sought after accompanist. Currently he is the Studio Music Instructor of Jazz Piano at Whitman College in Walla Walla.
The joy of his life, his wife, Clairece, and three daughters, Sarah, Olivia, and Amelia, are all accomplished artists in their own right.