Salmon River inspires essayist and
By GREG MOORE
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
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 good news, despite all the woes, is
that so many people throughout the salmon nation are working on restoration," he
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
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
A recording of the composition can be
heard at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.