At four-years old Gary Hemenway’s first musical question to his mother was, “when do I get to play piano in church?” Raised in the small town of Pilot Rock in Eastern Oregon, 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 André Crouch and the Disciples, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Chicago, and The Temptations. 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 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, composition, arrangement, teaching, workshopping and live performance work. His work has appeared throughout the world in Nike & Avia videos and events, as well as at the World Olympics. His live performance work has taken him throughout the United States, 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 18 years, he has enjoyed working with the Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony on their annual Gospel Christmas concerts. Hemenway also serves as the Artistic Director for the Walla Walla Choral Society and the Director of Worship at Walla Walla Presbyterian Church. He enjoys sharing his talent and expertise as a Studio Music Instructor of Jazz Piano at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
His other credits include work with 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), Pink Martini, 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, Thomas Lauderdale, 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, Clark Bondy, Renato Curanto (Bernard Purdie & Esperanza Spalding), Tim Ellis, Saeeda Wright (Prince & Liv Warfield), Patrick Lamb, Gavin Bondy, the late Chris Kent, Phil Baker, Chris Lizotte, Steve Camp, Randy Stonehill, Mark & Sarah McMillan, the late Bruce Carter, and many others.
Hemenway has composed and arranged numerous vocal, choral and instrumental pieces in every style from classical to film score, from gospel to 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.
The joy of his life, his wife, Clairece, and three daughters, Sarah, Olivia and Amelia, are all accomplished artists in their own right.