Wildcat honors his late brother through music


Photo credit: Carlos Gonzalez

Nearly three years after Chico State student Aaron Drange passed away, his brother Phillip honored him with their shared passion: Music.

Phillip spent about two and a half years writing a 14-minute-long piece and divided it into three movements. Each movement is dedicated to how Phillip dealt with each step of his grieving process.

Phillip wrote:

The first movement begins with a pleasant tone representing life with innocence intact. It quickly morphs into a more anxious tone, representing the immediate panic, confusion and fear of Aaron’s death. The second movement represents the mixed feelings surrounding Aaron’s funeral. The tone shifts between bleakness and beauty, as the funeral both solidified that Aaron was gone, while showing how much he was loved. The third movement was written for choir and band. The words were written in the months following Aaron’s death as I tried to figure out how to live life without him.

The piece was performed in Harlen Adams Theatre April 22 by 40-50 people in the wind ensemble and about 20 people in the choir. His teachers and choir were all on board to assist with the performance.


“Since Aaron was a student, teachers were eager to help,” Phillip said. “Dr. Royce Tevis was eager to do this in the spring and all the teachers got on board. Students on the ensemble were eager to help.”

Music is a big part of the Drange brothers’ lives. Phillip plays percussion and Aaron played saxophone and piano. Music helps him understand and he puts everything through the lens of music.

Phillip continues to play in his pop/ jazz band “The Upstairs Neighbours,” which his brother was a band-mate in. They covered Sea of Love featuring Aaron, which Phillip said was “very touching.”

To honor Aaron’s life, Chico State offers the Aaron Drange Memorial Scholarship in which each semester, the music students are offered a $500 scholarship to continue their musical career in college. However, they are trying to raise enough money to double it to $1,000. Donations are being accepted.

“The memory is always there. No one is really gone,” Phillip said.

Julia Maldonado can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.