Meet Mitch Gilly: Sing’s arranger

Baylor alum Mitch Gilly does the arranging for every Sing act. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Caleb Wheeler | Staff Writer

All-University Sing requires weeks of long hours from all of those involved — but there is one man behind the scenes who works with students to ensure the best experience possible for performers and audiences alike.

Mitch Gilly, a freelance composer and arranger, received an invitation to take up the task of directing Sing when he was a graduate student at Baylor. Since then, Gilly has graduated, but he has continued to return to campus to compose and arrange for one of the university’s largest events.

“I enjoy working with the groups as we bring our artistic vision to life, and I get satisfaction putting new shows together and finding ways to make the songs connect with each other,” Gilly said. “More often than not, it’d be songs we would never think would be put together. So to me, it’s like a puzzle — trying to figure out how to seamlessly transition between the songs so it all sounds like one homogenous show and not like a Frankenstein of songs just mushed together.”

This will be Gilly’s third year arranging Sing, which typically has 20 acts. In his first year, he partnered with an arranger from Dallas, and each of them took half of the songs. However, last year and this year, he has worked alone.

“There were several weeks in a row where I was working 9 a.m. to 12 a.m., so 15 hours a day,” Gilly said. “It’s a massive undertaking, but it’s a lot of fun to do.”

Gilly said he works to ensure the students see their act come to life, and he is there to make that product as close to what they want as he can.

“Typically, they either pick the sound effects themselves, or if there’s a particular kind of thing, I can make a sound effect myself,” Gilly said. “And then after that, I just keep meeting with the groups until they are happy with the product that they have. And then, when it comes time, I rehearse the bands, and we perform.”

Dr. Scott McAllister, who was Gilly’s professor for six years, recommended Gilly for the position of directing Sing and spoke highly of his abilities.

“I would say [Gilly is] a triple threat as a musician: He is [a] wonderful composer, arranger and is a fantastic performer,” McAllister said.

McAllister said he has been impressed with Gilly’s ability to put together music for a great show while guiding the student musicians who play in the band.

“The School of Music is very proud to be involved in this,” McAllister said. “I went the last couple of years and was impressed. … [Gilly’s] not just doing a basic arrangement of a piece of music, but he actually puts his own composing skills to make the music a little more interesting.”

McAllister’s office is next to the Sing rehearsal space, and he said the audience can expect an eclectic and exciting roster of performances that will reflect the hard work that has been poured into the endeavor.

Caleb Wheeler is a freshman University Scholar from Tulsa, Oklahoma. My concentrations are in journalism and professional writing with a minor in legal reasoning. In my first year with the Lariat I am excited to experience what it is like to work for a professional publication and further my writing abilities. After graduation I hope to attend Baylor Law School.