Tuesday, April 6, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gregory Norman Short, 60, Music Composer, Teacher

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Gregory Norman Short, a Northwest composer and teacher whose work has been performed by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra and Tacoma Symphony, is remembered for his love of music and stories of Northwest Coast Indians.

He was trained in modern and classical European-American styles. He taught music privately and at community colleges. He also directed music for St. Francis Episcopal Church in Mill Creek.

But his success in creating new music blending mainstream sounds with American-Indian melodies and rhythms earned him recognition beyond the Northwest.

His pieces may be heard on several compact discs, including "Reflections of the Northwest" on the Koch International Classics label.

Mr. Short, of Whidbey Island, died Thursday (April 1) of a heart attack. He was 60.

"He was a remarkable composer, and is deeply missed," said Anthony Spain, founder and director of the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. "What was unique about him was his way of combining Native-American influences with orchestral music for a sound that was very compelling and far from being a cliche."

Born and reared in Toppenish, Yakima County, he studied music at what became Cornish College of the Arts. He earned a bachelor's degree in music and a doctorate in composition at the University of Oregon.

He taught privately and in public schools and colleges in Washington and, in the early 1970s, in Germany.

"He became very interested in ethnic music through some of his teaching, where he met Native Americans, and also through charity work," said his son, Aric Short of South Prairie, Pierce County.

"He did his doctoral thesis on a piece of Northwest Indian art. He was fascinated with Native-American music and culture."

Mr. Short used ethnic themes in many of the 300 compositions he created in the past 35 years.

One of his most popular pieces was the orchestral suite "The Raven Speaks," based on Northwest coast songs and stories.

Seattle Times classical-music critic Melinda Bargreen called the work "vividly pictorial and underscored with harp and percussion."

Another composition, "Mount Takhoma" is featured on a Koch International Classics CD to be released this summer.

"He was coming into his own as a composer," Spain said. "He was just at the point of being internationally recognized."

Also surviving are a daughter, Shiobhan Sheridan of Alpharetta, Ga.; mother, Norma Spence, Issaquah; sister, Tonya Shreeve, Seattle; and five grandchildren.

Services have not been set.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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