Program Notes

JON DEAK (b. 1943)



This summer I have distinguished the “singing” lyricism of Dvorák and the “speaking” dialogue of Kodaly. Well, Jon takes it all a step further and actually talks while playing; there is nothing quite like it. I’m not entirely sure when I met Jon but I know I have been influenced deeply by his works in my own compositions. I still remember the first time I saw him do BB Wolf; I simply had never heard anything like this ever before. How can someone make a bass sound so convincingly like a wolf howl that the hairs raised uncomfortably on the back of my neck.

He’ll be playing two works on the concert. Here are his notes:

The text for "B.B. Wolf" (1982) was written in collaboration with Richard Hartshorne, a longtime mountaineering partner. The idea for the piece arose while coming into contact with wolves on wilderness climbing expeditions in Canada and Alaska. Although the composer is a serious environmental activist, the listener should not expect a solemn sermon on this subject; the authors are far too irreverent. It has also come as a surprise that the piece has been heard on many hundreds of concerts, recorded and translated into many languages. Most amusingly was when it was heard at a fancy outdoor barbecue in Jackson, Wyoming by Governor Sullivan, Interior Secretary James Watt and a Wyoming Congressman/rancher named Dick Cheney. They were amused, but clearly suspicious. After the concert the Governor quipped: "Never have we been lobbied so musically!"

"Sherlock Holmes in 'The Speckled Band'" (Scene I), 2009. This work was commissioned by the Valdosta State University adapted by the composer from text by Arthur Conan Doyle. The tense drama and intricate characterizations in the original Conan Doyle masterpiece become a huge technical and musical challenge for the solo performer, who must combine disciplines of theatrical pacing, sound effects, percussion and technical and musical difficulty, as well as convincingly portray three diverse and complex characters. We will only hear Scene I today, mainly since that is all that has been written.