Award-winning BHSU musician finds inspiration at Sanford Lab; will premier original composition July 11

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, July 2, 2015/Categories: 2015









           Black Hills State University student Jesse Dunaway, music education major from Rapid City, takes a tour of the Sanford Lab in Lead to gain inspiration for his original composition "Homestake Mine." Dunaway will perform the composition, Friday, July 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Homestake Opera House in Lead. Dunaway&rsquos performance includes nearly 20 performers and tells the rich history of the Homestake Mine from the first discovery of gold to its transformation into one of the world&rsquos top research facilities.







           Jesse Dunaway



The inspiration for Black Hills State University student Jesse Dunaway&rsquos most recent composition came from a unique and unusual source &ndash the Sanford lab, an underground science research facility in Lead. His composition, "Homestake Mine" links music, history and science in a one-of-a-kind performance.

Dunaway, an award-winning music education major from Rapid City, is one of many BHSU students who has had the opportunity to conduct research at Sanford Lab. The BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab provides students unique and innovative educational opportunities and national and international collaborations that propel them in their future professions.

The composition brings to life the rich history of the Homestake Mine from the first discovery of gold to its transformation into becoming one of the world&rsquos top research facilities as Sanford Lab. His work is one of the many collaborations between BHSU and the Sanford Lab. The BHSU Underground Campus at the 4,800 level of Sanford Lab, offers unique research opportunities for students in a variety of disciplines including mass communication, physics, genomics, education, art and music.

Dunaway will perform his original composition "Homestake Mine" at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 10 at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead.

Following the performance at 6:30 p.m., Emily Graslie, host and writer of You Tube&rsquos "The Brain Scoop," will talk about the relationship between art and science. Graslie, who is a Rapid City native, also is the Chief Curiosity Correspondent at Chicago&rsquos Field Museum and has built a successful career out of educating others on a variety of science-related topics. Friday&rsquos events are a kickoff to the annual Neutrino Day July 11 at the Sanford Lab and in Lead. Neutrino Day, Sanford Lab&rsquos free science day, is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day includes science-related activities for kids, displays, tours of the visitor center and keynote speakers on a variety of science topics. For a full schedule of Neutrino Day events, visit

Dunaway spent more than a year writing "Homestake Mine," and said he is eager to showcase the final product to the community.

"I usually write a lot of my own music, perform it and record it to establish credibility. To have another party recognize the work I&rsquove accomplished and approach me is a treat. I really liked that," Dunaway said.

Dunaway writes nontraditional, vocal and instrumental compositions, filled with unique sounds and new and improvisational instruments. His work earned him first- and second-place finishes in South Dakota Music Teacher Association composition contests and he&rsquos written several original compositions over the years for the BHSU theatre and music departments.   

Writing a composition on such an iconic site is a privilege, Dunaway said. To gain inspiration for his piece, Dunaway toured the underground facilities at Sanford Lab.

"You have all this high tech, sophisticated equipment combined with rail cars and basic mining tools. You see the past and the future in the same place," Dunaway said. "I wanted to tell a story of the development of Homestake Mine. It&rsquos a symbol in the Black Hills."

Written in five movements, the performance includes nearly 20 performers, a variety of instruments and parts of a recorded interview with a former Homestake miner.

The first movement, "The Gold," is the story of first discovering gold in the Black Hills and the thoughts one might have had from not only the rich discovery, but seeing the picturesque Black Hills for the first time.

"The Gold" is one of Dunaway&rsquos favorite movements in the composition. The melody, created with a baritone soloist, French horn and pianist, offers a more gentle sound, which Dunaway said depicts the sun coming up over the Black Hills.

"Normally my compositions are very bombastic and heavy. This movement is quite delicate," Dunaway said. "It really shows the growth I&rsquove made as a musician. The delicate nature of this movement is something I hope to strive for in my career and life. This was a proud moment and milestone."

The second movement, "Down in the Mine," represents the strong men who spent years working in the mine. Dunaway uses a variety of percussion instruments in the second movement to develop a rhythm that imitates the machinery miners used. The improvised instruments include a wrench, an anvil and a tire hose.

"Using the machinery as percussion is a risky step to take. There&rsquos not a lot of control over the volume of an impact wrench or air compressor," Dunaway said. "But the melodies and harmonies created are rewarding."

In his third movement, "Son Don&rsquot You Cry," Dunaway honors the community of Lead and Deadwood after the Homestake Mine closes. A unique aspect to the movement is an interview Dunaway completed with former Homestake miner, John Daum. Pieces of Daum&rsquos interview will play during the movement, offering a first-hand encounter to the history of the Homestake Mine.

"I wanted to create a movement that people could relate to," Dunaway said. "To have John speak and have the audience hear a real person tell their story is something so many in the area can relate to."

The fourth movement, "Sanford Lab," represents the new discoveries made in the mine and how they are similar to that of first discovering gold in the 1800s. The fifth and final movement, "Into the Future," elaborates on Homestake Mine and Sanford Lab&rsquos importance. The movement is a collective piece that includes orchestration from the first four movements, meant to encompass all the things that the Homestake Mine and Sanford Lab represent.  

"I am part of a great opportunity, this creative and collaborative effort," Dunaway said. "I was moved by all the history and culture that the Homestake Mine brings to the area."


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