Jill and Michael Gallina have achieved national prominence as award-winning composers of musical plays and choral music for youth in elementary, middle, junior and senior high schools. Their clever creations in story and song have consistently won awards from the Parents Choice Foundation, American Library Service and ASCAP. Their music has been featured and performed on the Disney Channel, The World's Largest Concert, PBS, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Sing for the Cure, The New York Philharmonic, The Boston Pops, and in a documentary on children's rights for the United Nations. The Gallinas are inspiring music directors all across the English-speaking world with their music and educator workshops. They have presented in service clinics at numerous state Music Educator conferences as well as colleges and universities including, Villanova, LSU, College of NJ, Concordia College, Westminster Choir College and many more. Their chorals have sold millions of copies and their musical plays have hundreds of performances across the globe each year. They are educating, enlightening, and engaging today’s youth with their consummate talents and creativity.
Jill , you and your husband Michael are “The Rodgers and Hammerstein” of elementary musicals! What was your first published musical, and when? How did that come about?
JG: The first play I ever wrote by myself was Santa and the Snowmobile. I had written it as a poem with music and sent it to Marjorie Farmer the late head editor of an educational music publisher. She gave me a play format to follow and asked me to set it as a musical play which I did. It became a best seller and Marjorie Farmer became one of my first mentors. The first musical we wrote together was Of Mice and Mozart. Michael had always been giving me great lines and suggestions for my musicals, so we decided to write one together and it became our first collaboration. We hadn't come up with a title for the play and we were discussing the story of having mice who lived in the woodwork of Mozart's house tell his story. Our daughter Kim (who was 10 at the time) piped up with "Why don't you call it ‘Of Mice and Mozart!’ ". Thanks to Kim, that became the title of the play!
What are a few of the most rewarding things you enjoy most about what you’ve done as composers/clinicians through the years?
JG: Professionally, having our music performed from schools and concert stages and by orchestras such as the Boston Pops and The New York Philharmonic. Personally the most rewarding thing has been meeting so many dedicated and talented teachers around the country. Many of them have become close personal friends and we are so grateful for their encouragement, support and inspiration! We are truly blessed!
What is one of your favorite or funniest memories from a project or “from the road?”
JG: One hilarious incident comes to mind. We were on the road with one of our colleagues. One of our musicals was being performed and we went backstage with our colleague to wish the cast of students and a few adults, good luck . One of the women with wild hair walked by and our colleague (thinking it was a wig and she was wearing it because she was probably in the show), went up to her and said with a shocked expression, "Funny, great wig!". It turns out it was her REAL hair! We laugh about it to this day!
What did you want people to take away after seeing a performance of MR. PFISTER’S CHRISTMAS TIME TRAVELERS?
JG: The meaning in Mr. Pfister's Christmas Time Travelers is to remember to keep the message of love, joy, and the true (Holy) Spirit of Christmas in your hearts and minds throughout the entire year!