Texas Tech University

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jennifer Jolley Premieres New Composition, Ash

Haley Kirychuk

November 15, 2018

Dr. Jennifer Jolley, TTU School of Music

Dr. Jennifer Jolley discusses the world premiere of her newest composition, along with her philosophy and musical influences.

Growing up in Southern California, Dr. Jennifer Jolley never saw snow. One day on the playground at recess, she noticed white particles falling from the sky and stared in wonder until her teacher told her it was ash from a wildfire. From that time Jolley has stood in awe of forest fires, describing them as "beautiful and at the same time ominous."

Now an Assistant Professor of Music Composition, her recent work for symphonic wind ensemble, Ash, draws on this concept. Eric Leung, conductor of Fresno Pacific University Symphonic Band in Fresno, CA, reached out to Jolley and asked her about the possibility of commissioning a work for his band.

Jolley describes her compositional philosophy as always considering her audience. For her this audience is always "first and foremost the performers who are going to be premiering it." She crafted Ash with student performers who live in a wildfire-prone area in mind. The word fresno means "ash" in Spanish. Jolley decided upon this overt connection and strengthened the link by composing the piece with big, bold chords depicting beauty and power; the mood is "incendiary," according to Jolley.

A compositional influence for this piece is S'io non miro non moro, a Renaissance madrigal by Carlo Gesualdo featuring sustained, open, slowly changing chords. When asked about the intended audience reaction to Ash, Jolley says she hopes they will "experience beauty."

The Fresno Pacific University Symphonic Band will premiere Ash at the Western International Band Clinic in Seattle, Washington on Saturday, November 17, 2018.