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home : features : people & places April 29, 2016

5/22/2013 8:09:00 AM
BMHS grad leads Chaparral Musicfest's first contemporary music workshop
Bradshaw grad and musician Owen Davis
Courtesy Photo
Bradshaw grad and musician Owen Davis
Courtesy Photo
Chaparral MusicFest offers workshops for all ages
The seventh annual Chaparral MusicFest offers numerous workshops and academies for children and adults.

Youth Choral Academy for ages 10-18, meets five days, May 28-June 1: Tue-Thur from 2:30-5:30 p.m.; Friday with adult chorus from 2:30-6:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-noon for dress rehearsal, concert at 3 p.m. $120 ($50 with Prescott residency).

Adult Choral Workshop for ages 16 and older. Study with St. Louis conductor Dr. Leon Burke. Meets May 29-June 2, from 6-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-noon dress rehearsal, concert at 3 p.m.

Contemporary Music Workshop with Owen Davis from May 28-June 2 for aspiring instrumentalists, vocalists, and composers of all levels, ages 15-20. Fee: $195 ($155 if under 18 with Prescott residency). Includes Friday dinner, Saturday lunch, performance shirt and one free ticket to the New Music Arizona Concert on Sept. 9.

Chamber Music Works for string, piano and woodwind players ages 13 and older. May 31-June 1. Fee: $195 ($155 if under 18 with Prescott residency). Includes Friday dinner, Saturday lunch, performance shirt and one free ticket to the New Music Arizona Concert on Sept. 9.

Suzuki Academy open to Book 1 and 2 students, ages 6-12. June 5-8 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fee: $250.

Community Drum Circle, June 8, 3:30 p.m., at the Prescott Public Library. All ages and skills spend an hour together making music and noise. Bring your own drums or use one of the ones we provide.

Percussion Workshop, June 10-15, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. A day camp for children ages 8-11.

No experience necessary. Fee: $85 ($50 if you reside in Prescott.)

Classes take place at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 630 Park Avenue, Prescott. Scholarships available.

Highlights at the Highlands, Sunday June 16, 3 p.m. at Highland Center for Natural History. Tickets $18, children $5.

Features highlighted performers from all the 2013 workshop - faculty and student performers.

Sue Tone

Owen Davis is fascinated with small sounds - hands rubbing together, the click of a ballpoint pen, a pencil scribbling - so on Valentine's Day he wrote a musical piece for three pencilists and audience participation.

Titled Pencil Trio in Three Words, it begins with up to 30 members of the audience writing "I love you" over and over on heavily-ridged paper, and amplified.

"When people write the 'I,' it makes three distinct sounds that are repeated each time. It turns into a canon," Davis said.

Then he asks the audience to come to the microphone and say "I love you" in any language to anyone, or tell someone face-to-face, or call the person sitting next to them on a cell phone, put it on speaker and tell each other "I love you." The cell phones generate an eerie warbling feedback.

"It creates such a great feeling in the room - of joy in the community," the 2007 Bradshaw Mountain High School graduate said. "The pencils eventually get dull. When you feel like you're done, step down and just enjoy."

The composition is about relinquishing control, he said, and has only been performed once.

Davis, a percussionist, also writes more classical compositions for cello, saxophone, piano, clarinet, duos, string quartets, and large ensembles. Currently, he is the interim executive director of the Chaparral MusicFest, now in its seventh year. He leaves Arizona in mid-August to begin a master's program in music composition at DePaul University in Chicago where he will study with five different composers. He also received a graduate assistantship to tutor freshman students in sight-singing and music theory.

"Composition education is an ambiguous thing. I mean, how do you teach people to compose? You teach to create a way to figure out the process of composition," he explained.

Davis spent his school years in the Humboldt Unified School District, starting with kindergarten at Humboldt Elementary School and ending with two years on the BMHS drumline. He studied percussion and music education at Northern Arizona University, graduating in 2012. While at NAU, he performed with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra alongside Maria Flurry, co-founder with her husband, Henry, of the Chaparral MusicFest and the Park Avenue School of Music in Prescott.

This is the first year the MusicFest will offer a Contemporary Music Workshop from May 28-June 2. Davis will lead the four-day, interactive contemporary chamber music workshop covering topics such as collaborative music performance, improvisation, performer/composer relationships, and getting (and keeping) gigs. The workshop is for aspiring instrumentalists, vocalists, and composers of all levels ages 15-20.

After earning his master's, Davis said he will possess the necessary tools to create his own career as a composer and performer.

"It's all self-employment. I know it will take a lot of sacrifice and hard work," he said from Dewey-Humboldt where he still resides near Humboldt El.

He already has put to good use new skills by co-founding the four-member music group Erasable Color.

"It's a business. You have to learn about investments, marketing, getting gigs," Davis said. "It's a testament to the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement. If it's not there, do it. If you don't know how, learn."

For more information on the Chaparral MusicFest, visit

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