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Bill Richert
Bill McGlaughlin, host of public radio's "Exploring Music" show, will conduct Salt Lake City's Gifted Music School Orchestra on Saturday.

Bill McGlaughlin has spent decades demystifying the classical music world for public radio listeners, where his Peabody Award-winning shows, "St. Paul Sunday" and "Exploring Music," remain popular. What many of his fans don't know is that McGlaughlin does more than talk about music. He's a freelance conductor and composer of note, and a former trombone section leader in the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony.

McGlaughlin is in Salt Lake City this week to conduct the Gifted Music School Orchestra for its Spring Gala Benefit Concert on Saturday. He's the latest in an impressive parade of classical music icons who've worked with the city's young orchestra.

Eugene Watanabe, the school's co-founder, has great connections that benefit his students, said Brigham City mother Susan Andersen, whose 12-year-old daughter McCall is a violinist in the GMS Orchestra. The students benefit each other, too, Andersen said, spurring one another toward high achievement at school and in music.

"In this orchestra, McCall is thrown into a group of kids that are all high achievers," her mother said. "When those kids are all together, striving to be the very best they can, they propel each other to high levels. That's what this orchestra does.

For McGlaughlin, the chance to conduct the group was irresistible. Though he knew of the musical talents of the orchestra's founder, Watanabe, it was Watanabe's dedication to providing opportunities to all children that impressed him most.

"Here you have a kid who can play at such an extraordinarily high level, and all he really wants to do is give that as a gift to others in his hometown," McGlaughlin said. "How can you say no? You'd have to have a heart like a Scrooge to say no."

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The Gifted Music School presents its third-annual Spring Gala Concert April 27 at 6:30 p.m. in Westminster College’s Vieve Gore Concert Hall, 1840 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City. Guest conductor is Bill McGlaughlin, host of public radio’s “St. Paul Sunday” and “Exploring Music” programs. The concert features the world premiere of “Lux Aeterna,” an orchestral work by California-based composer Michael McLean, and works of Dvorak, Piazzolla, Vivaldi and Gershwin.

The concert benefits children’s music education at the Gifted Music School, including scholarships for orchestra students and subsidies for other programs. Tickets are $25; $5 for students. To purchase, call 801-930-0310. For further information, visit giftedmusicschool.org

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