EarShot ICO Readings & Competition: Composer Spotlight – David A. Jones
Composer and horn player David A. Jones, from Olympia, Washington, is inspired by the music of Stravinsky, Debussy, Hindemith, Holst, and many others. David’s works include music for orchestra, wind band, string quartet, brass quintet, percussion ensemble, choir, and a variety of other ensembles. David is a recent recipient of the 2015 Barlow Student Composition Award at BYU, won second prize in the 2016 Vera Hinckley Mayhew Composition Contest, and was one of fifteen winners selected in Vox Novus’s “Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Nautilus Brass Quintet” call for scores in 2014. He has had works premiered by the BYU Chamber Orchestra, the Nautilus Brass Quintet, the BYU-Idaho Symphony Band, and the RixStix Percussion Ensemble. He is currently studying for his Master’s in composition at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he lives with his wife and child. David graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Composition at Brigham Young University – Idaho in July 2015, where he studied with Darrell Brown. David was selected for the 2016 EarShot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings & Competition for his piece Aspen. He answered these questions for SoundAdvice. The readings are free and open to the public on Friday, September 23, 7PM at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.
Composer David A. Jones
American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding our your piece had been selected for the 2016 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings and Competition?
David A. Jones: Honestly, I was quite surprised and amazed that my piece had won a contest of this caliber. I’ve learned in recent years that a composer really shouldn’t enter contests like this expecting to actually win; the sheer number of applicants and the rigorous and subjective selection process involved makes one’s chances of winning somewhat akin to winning the lottery. But that knowledge made me all the more thrilled and honored when I was informed that my piece had been selected for the ICO readings. I feel especially humbled after reading the profiles and listening to the music of the other winners; it’s an honor to be in the company of such talented and well-established composers.
ACO: You write that your piece seeks to capture the unique quality of aspen trees, which do not grow as individual trees but rather grow as colonies, all connected by their roots. Can you talk about your compositional process and how you went about conveying this idea through music?
DAJ: Aspen began with a few motivic ideas and gestures, or “seeds,” which are presented towards the beginning of the piece and which grow and develop and take new shapes throughout the piece. Some of these ideas are developed intentionally and concretely through the written music, but in many instances I’ve left it up to the performers to develop the gestures freely by means of unmetered, aleatoric sections. By tending carefully to the growth and development of these ideas, I sought to create a piece that is unified in its melodic and harmonic content, but which is allowed to expand and evolve organically.
ACO: What have you done to prepare for the readings since you found out your piece was selected?
DAJ: After I was informed that my piece was selected, I was instructed to send the score and a few of the parts to Bill Holab, a professional engraver, to look over and give suggestions on. His recommendations required a major overhaul of the format of the score and parts to bring them up to professional standards, and the changes took almost an entire week to complete. To my chagrin, even after making all of those changes, I still found a few obnoxious engraving errors in the score and parts after they had all been printed.
ACO: What are you most looking forward to about the readings?
DAJ: What I’m most looking forward to about the readings is the opportunity to meet and interact with professional performers and composers. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to form relationships with other musicians and share ideas with them, and to continue to improve my own abilities and develop my career as a composer. I’m grateful for the chance to hear my music realized by a professional ensemble, but as a student composer, I’m especially grateful for the opportunity for my music to break out of the university environment and to be heard in the professional realm.
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.
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