In the spring of 2017, I and several of my peers had the unique privilege of teaching classes at a minimum-security prison as part of an internship. Because it was a not-insubstantial drive from school, we carpooled, and after a wonderful experience working with the inmates, I spent the majority of the drive home observing as we passed through a handful of small towns. On the side of the road about halfway home, a sign proclaimed that this stretch of highway was dedicated in memoriam of Wichita Joe and Danny Díaz. That moment stayed with me – not only were those two of the coolest names I’d ever heard, I was full of questions. Who were they? What lives did they live?And who had them memorialized here?
Time passed, and despite intensive internet searches, I found no clues. Instead, I began imagining them in my head, sending them on journeys through unknown lands and wondering what their real-life personas would think. When Jeremiah Jacks, director of bands at Spring View Middle School, reached out to me as part of his quest to collaborate with female composers, I knew it was time for these stories to take shape. The Adventures of Wichita Joe and Danny Díaz is a brainchild of this curiosity – though I’ll never know their real stories, their names will remain, both on the side of the road near Miami, Arizona and in this piece.
Run time: 4’+, depending on number of soloists.
Perusal score (PDF)
Listen to two excerpts of the MIDI preview of The Adventures… below:
(N.B.: if your ensemble performs this piece, send me the recording and I’ll feature you here!)