Axtel family has centered lives around music
Growing up, the Bastian children did not sleep in.
Throughout their childhood in Axtell, their mother, Gay Bastian, woke everyone up before dawn to hone their piano skills.
“When they were young, they had to get up at 5 a.m. to practice,” Bastian said. “So we would always get up then and everyone would be on an instrument.”
The family had multiple pianos so each child could practice. Then Bastian would move between rooms to help the young musicians.
Her husband, Dr. Bevan Bastian, a radiologist at Gunnison Valley Hospital, would put in ear plugs so he didn’t have to hear the pre-dawn symphony. “He loves music—just not at 5 a.m.,” Gay Bastian said. “He doesn’t want to listen to scales.”
The Bastians have lived in Axtell since the early 1990s. Bevan Bastian grew up in Vermillion, a tiny settlement near Sigurd in Sevier County. Bevan and Gay met at the University of Utah where he was in medical school and she was working on her master’s degree in vocal performance.
When both graduated and after they married, they moved to Rochester, N.Y., where Gay attended the Eastman School of Music and Bevin did his residency at a hospital there. After completing his residency, he accepted a position in Rock Spring, Wyo., and the family moved to Rock Springs.
Then Dr. Bastian got a call from the administrator of Gunnison Valley Hospital. The decision to move to the Gunnison Valley “wasn’t that difficult,” Gay says. “He was coming back to his roots.”
While all the children have grown up and moved out of the house, the oldest daughter, Jessica Egan, remembers making the most of the early mornings when she was growing up.
“My sister and I would have a race to see who could be the first one to play a note on the piano,” she said. “So our alarms would go off and you’d hear this ‘thud thud thud’ as we were running to see who could be the first one.”
Egan, now of Farmington, played with the Utah Symphony in its annual Salute to Youth concert in 2003. She and her siblings have won multiple competitions and played with the Utah Valley Symphony and the American Fork Symphony. She said she and her siblings are grateful for the 5 a.m. practice sessions.
“It enabled me to get the necessary skills so that I can enjoy it,” she said. “It’s more fun when you can sit down and play whatever you want.”
While Gay focuses on voice and piano, she can also play some violin, accordion, saxophone and French horn.
Each of her children is proficient in piano and music theory, but so far they have studied things besides music in college. The three oldest Bastian children have earned degrees in chemistry, biology, public health and food science. The three youngest children are still in college.
Bastian is happy with her children’s choices of college majors and said the most rewarding part of her children’s musical talents is to be able to play and make music as a family. She said the competitions the children won were “a precursor to the real fun.”
“The real fun was when we played together for programs and little concerts. That’s where the real joy is, just playing together and enjoying the music together,” she said.
While all of the children can play the piano, one daughter has also learned to play the accordion.
“We do a lot of playing together, her playing the accordion, me singing, and if we can, we get the other kids to come in with other percussive instruments,” Bastian said.
Bastian said with all her children spread out, they don’t get to play together as often as they used to, but she is happy with their accomplishments, musical and otherwise.
Egan, now the mother of three, said that while she probably won’t continue the early-morning practice tradition, she will help her children learn to play the piano so that they will be able to enjoy music and serve in church and other capacities.
“I’m not going to push them with it, but I think they should reach a certain level of competency,” she said.
She said she is grateful for the musical focus of her youth. “I’m glad I did it,” she said. “I’ve definitely been able to serve a lot and enjoy a lot because of the skills I have. I’m grateful for it.”