B. Cecil Gates

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Brigham Cecil Gates (1887 – August 31, 1941) was born in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii on August 16, 1887, the second of twelve children of Jacob F. and Susa Young Gates.


Following early training in music from teachers at Brigham Young Academy, John H. McClellan and others in Salt Lake City, and the New England Conservatory of Music, he taught piano in St. George, Utah.

From 1907 to 1910 he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to the Eastern States mission which was headquartered in New York City. He studied in the Scharwenka Conservatory of Music in Berlin from 1910 to 1913, graduating with high honors.

On June 30, 1917, he married Gweneth Gibbs in the Salt Lake Temple. Their children are Gweneth Mulder; Emma Lou – Mrs. Reed E. Ashton; B. Cecil Gates, Jr., who died at the age of eighteen; Helen – Mrs. Owen I. Gardiner; and Ruth – Mrs. B. Keith Duffin.

From 1913 to 1925 he was head of the Music Department of the LDS University, the predecessor of LDS Business College. During this period he began what later became the McCune School of Music, assembling an excellent faculty. The school gained national recognition for the high quality of its administration and teachings.

In 1920 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized its General Church Music Committee, Gates was one of its original 13 members.[1]

From 1916 to 1935 he was assistant director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He also was a member of the General Board of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association from 1918 to 1929. With his sister Emma Lucy Gates Bowen he organized the Lucy Gates Grand Opera Company of Salt Lake City in 1915 and there conducted many of the world’s great operas.[2][3] In 1926 he was appointed chairman of the Music Department at Utah State University. He also composed a significant number of choral and orchestral works, popular with people at all levels of musical background and ability.

Gates also served as director of the Salt Lake Oratorio Society.

Gates died in Salt Lake City after suffering from a debilitating illness for several years before his death.


The B. Cecil Gates Opera Workshop, which is part of the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center at BYU is used for the rehearsal and preparation of student productions of opera. It is also used as a large lecture classroom.

The Gates Opera Workshop is a rectangular room just off the de Jong Concert Hall stage. An oversized doorway permits transporting of large scene pieces back and forth from stage area to the workshop room. A capacious storage area is located in the west side of the room, and access to it from the tunnel is possible, permitting trucks and equipment to be moved in easily (Special Program, 8).

Among works by Gates are an arrangement of The Lord's Prayer, the Easter cantata Resurrection Morning, My Redeemer Lives, How Long Oh Lord Most Holy and True (words by his brother-in-law, John A. Widtsoe), "Hear My Prayer" and "The Festival Overture".


  1. ^ "General music committee inherited a rich legacy: Observes 70th anniversary", Church News, 8 September 1990.
  2. ^ Registry of the Utah State Archives collection of papers on Emma Lucy Gates Bowen
  3. ^ Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First 100 Years (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975) Vol. 2, p. 733