Gavin Daniel ’26: Performance, Composition … and Econ

Gavin Daniel ’26 at the North Carolina Music Teachers Association’s Young Composers Contest

Anita Cirba, Gavin Daniel ’26 and Jay Meachum at the North Carolina Music Teachers Association’s young composer contest.

Gavin Daniel ’26 discovered his love for music in elementary school piano lessons — his older brother played both the piano and the trumpet, and Daniel wanted to try it for himself. By middle school, he was performing in multiple wind and jazz ensembles, and by high school, he began composing his own arrangements outside of class. 

Now a sophomore at Davidson, Daniel spent the fall semester playing jazz, performing in the symphony orchestra and working with various musical mentors. Most recently, he composed and performed an original piece, written for three trumpets, and won second place in his age group in the North Carolina Music Teachers Association’s Young Composers Contest. 

“Music has always been a passion of mine,” he said. “It’s an outlet and a source of release for me, especially as an introvert. I knew no matter what I studied in college, I’d want to keep pursuing that.”

Gavin Daniel ’26 on stage at the North Carolina Music Teachers Association’s Young Composers Contest

Daniel grew up in Clemmons, North Carolina, and found an early musical advisor in Davidson’s jazz trumpet instructor Jay Meachum. Meachum, who worked part-time with students at Daniel’s high school, helped him sharpen his trumpet skills and encouraged him to apply to Davidson.

While focused on music, Daniel knew he also wanted to study economics. 

“I knew I wanted to double major in music and economics, and I knew I could combine those interests at Davidson,” he said. “I’ve always liked understanding and observing how economics work in the world around me. While there’s not a ton of overlap with music, I’ve always been passionate about both.” 

After a few years of composing on his own in high school, Daniel began taking composition classes at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). Now, he’s taking an additional class through Meredith College, where he’s pushing himself to create more challenging pieces. 

“It can be hard to compose for instruments that I don’t play,” he said. “I’m not always familiar with the range and idiosyncrasies, so I have to ask someone who actually plays that instrument and get their input. You always have to be thinking about what makes sense for each part and how everything will come together.”

Daniel’s composition instructor at Meredith, Tom Lohr, encouraged him to enter the Young Composers Contest this fall. As part of the competition, Daniel performed his contemporary classical piece in front of an audience, accompanied by Meachum and his former trumpet teacher, Anita Cirba. Winning second place solidified his confidence in his compositional skills, and he hopes to compete on a national scale next year. 

“I know that composition will be a part of what I do after graduating, but I’m not sure what that will look like yet,” Daniel said. “It could be composing just for me, or working with ensembles. Either way, it’s a skill I want to use later on.” 


  • December 8, 2023