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For the week of October 15 - 21, 2003

Arts and Entertainment

Salmon River inspires essayist and composer

Express Staff Writer

With its project called The Whole Salmon, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts has undertaken an artistic exploration of the Salmon River and its impact on those who live within its reach. Through the eyes of a two artists, a writer and a musician, the project investigates both the past and present scope of the river.

On Thursday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., the center will present a discussion with two of those participants—writer and journalist Mark Trahant and clarinetist and composer Evan Ziporyn. The speakers will talk about their experiences on the river and illuminate the artistic process, as well as reflect on the meaning of the project within the larger scope of their professional work.

Trahant is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist who for many years was the author of "West by Northwest," a twice-weekly column for the Seattle Times. He is now editorial-page editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

As a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe at Fort Hall, Trahant brought an unusual perspective to the project. His lyrical, impressionistic essay weaves childhood memories of playing and fishing on the river with more recent experiences there.

Reaching farther back in time, Trahant points out that his ancestors, the Lemhi Shoshone, were in 1875 promised a reservation in the Lemhi Valley. Instead, they were sent to Ft. Hall. A treaty also gave the Shoshone-Bannock the rights to hunt and fish "in their accustomed places.’ However, the tribes did not clearly acquire those rights until the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed them in 1972.

"The great irony is that I am of the generation that benefited from all the legal challenges to treaty rights—something previous generations paid so high a price for—only to watch the fish fight for survival," Trahant writes in his essay. "Even now it’s an open question about the extinction of salmon."

Yet, he finds hope for both the fish and the river.

"The good news, despite all the woes, is that so many people throughout the salmon nation are working on restoration," he writes.

Trahant’s essay appears in the The Whole Salmon catalogue and on the center’s Web site—sunvalleycenter.org.

Evan Ziporyn’s musical composition for The Whole Salmon is his second commissioned work for the center. Two years ago, he wrote a piece that was performed by the Arden Trio. His music is influenced by his 20-year involvement with Balinese orchestral music, and his compositions reflect a comprehensive knowledge of world music as well as classical and folk works.

Ziporyn’s composition for The Whole Salmon is his first large work to incorporate natural sounds, all of which were recorded at river’s edge in August 2002. He reflected on the great pieces inspired by nature—Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, for example—and wrote his piece in four movements, each inspired by a different aspect or experience with the river.

A recording of the composition can be heard at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.



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