April 14, 1995 in Seven

Zephyr Will Work The Scales With ‘, The Fish Music’

Travis Rivers Correspondent
 

What is in a name, anyway? Composers sometimes name their music with such formal titles as “sonata” or pictorial ones like “Fountains.” But what about one called “Yes, the Fish Music,” a new work to be heard tonight at The Met?

Zephyr, Spokane’s 20th-century classical music series, will present David Jones’ “Yes, the Fish Music” along with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Trio in E minor, the Concertino a Tre by Ingolf Dahl, in its season finale concert.

Performers in tonight’s concert include Spokane Symphony clarinetist James Schoepflin, St. Louis Symphony violinist Elisa Barton, cellist Peter Rejto of the Los Angles Piano Quartet and Zephyr’s founder and music director, pianist Kendall Feeney.

“Yes, the Fish Music,” the latest in a series of Zephyr commissions, was written by Eastern Washington University composition professor David Jones. The title of the work - a composition for clarinet and piano - is taken from the title of a poem by Richard Brautigan.

“When I was in high school,” Jones says, “I was one of those kids who just had to be different. When everyone was supposed to be reading Robert Frost for their literature class, I was reading Richard Brautigan.”

Brautigan was a San Francisco writer whose poems, stories and novels with their whimsical titles and odd imagery developed something of a cult following in the 1970s and ‘80s. “Yes, the Fish Music” is a poem in a collection Brautigan called “The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster.”

“A few years ago, I set some of Brautigan’s poems for voice and chamber ensemble. ‘Yes, the Fish Music’ was one I started but never finished,” Jones says. “When I was playing the first movement of the piece I was writing for Kendall and Jim, my wife said, ‘It sounds like fish going upstream.’ So I decided to call the first movement ‘Coho Mojo.”’

The other movements are fishy as well, Jones admits. The second movement is called “Catfish Blues” and the finale, “Beluga of the Ball.”

“When it came time to name the whole piece,” Jones says, “I remembered that great title of Brautigan’s poem.”

Jones was born in Stockton, Calif., and grew up in Seattle, where he began studying clarinet and piano and writing music. Later, he earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington. He studied composition there with William Bergsma and William O. Smith.

“I was a little late getting my bachelor’s degree,” Jones says, “because I took about five years off trying to be a free-lance composer, but earning my living playing jazz and dance gigs, being a church organist, playing for dance classes, being a music copyist - just about everything I could think of.”

Jones joined Eastern’s music faculty last fall after having won prizes for his compositions from national and international organizations such as the International Trombone Association and the International Horn Society. In addition to his degree from the University of Washington, he holds a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston and is completing a doctorate at Indiana University.

Asked to describe his musical style, Jones says, “I don’t think I could put some kind of ‘-ism’ on my music. Rhythm is a really strong element in it because of my experience playing jazz and pop music and because I’ve studied a lot of ethnic music from various parts of the world. And the element of dance is pretty strong in my music, too, because I played for dance classes so long.

“I think my music is accessible to audiences, not because I’m trying to write down to them or writing to sell a lot of music, but because I believe that music is to be listened to and enjoyed.”

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ZEPHYR Location and time: The Met, tonight, 8 Tickets: $12, $8 for students, available at The Met, 455-6500, Street Music, 624-7722, and at G&B;

This sidebar appeared with the story: ZEPHYR Location and time: The Met, tonight, 8 Tickets: $12, $8 for students, available at The Met, 455-6500, Street Music, 624-7722, and at G&B;


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