Six Whitties who will change the world – Jackson Maberry

helenjenne

20091003-04-profiles-webUntil he took Introduction to Music Theory the first semester of his first year, junior Jackson Maberry had thought he would major in chemistry in order to satisfy pre-med requirements. Maberry now conducts two Whitman musical groups.

He grew up in a house that was centered around science and went to a high school without a music program. “I hadn’t taken any music classes of any sort prior to [music theory],” Maberry said.

One music theory class was enough to influence him. “It really struck me in that I’d always thought of music as [something where you] just do whatever you want to do,” Maberry said.

He said that he had thought of music as just black dots on a page but learned that it was a science, with rules.

“The neat thing about music that is harder to attain in other arts is that you can manipulate the rules of the musical language. You can control the emotional output of music, which is a very fascinating power,” he said.

Maberry declared a music theory major after the first semester of his first year.

“I sort of dropped off of the face of the earth of other departments,” he said.

The first semester of his sophomore year, he took a conducting seminar, which he loved. He has taken private lessons in conducting ever since.

“His passion for music is so evident,” said Susan Pickett, Catharine Gould Chism chair of music, who has taught all four of the music theory classes Maberry has taken. She was not surprised when Maberry decided to major in music theory.

Maberry currently conducts the Divertimento Chamber Orchestra, which he took over from alumnus Lee Mills. On top of that, “I added an ensemble of sorts,” Maberry said. This is the Divertimento Baroque Opera Company, which consists of many of the same members of the Divertimento Chamber Orchestra, and will put on a production of “Dido and Aeneas” this month.

One of his main goals with these two groups is to provide performance opportunities for student musicians, Maberry said. This involves a lot of time commitment on Maberry’s part, because in addition to the hours he spends rehearsing with the orchestra and with the different groups involved in the opera: comprised of the strings, the choir, and the soloists: “it’s a responsibility to be prepared,” he said.

To be entirely familiar with the score, Maberry said, he has to do a harmonic analysis of it and know what every chord is. “Dido and Aeneas,” for example, is 100 pages long, and Maberry estimates that he spends an hour studying for every two pages. It’s his charge, he said, “to know the music like you know your own life.”

Maberry hopes that through orchestra and opera, he can share music with people from all walks of life, not just Whitman students.

To work on this, and reach out to the greater Walla Walla community, he has passed on posters to be put up in wine tasting rooms around Walla Walla and put bulletins in the music and student affairs departments at Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College.

“I’ve only tried to court two very specific types of people [so far],” he said. “Wine tasters and college students . . . I’ve still got some work to do.”

Just as Maberry hopes to get people in Walla Walla who aren’t Whitman students to the concerts, he plans, after Whitman, to take music to somebody who needs it. Although he does plan to get his doctorate someday, he is unsure if he will go immediately to graduate school. He knows that he wants to teach.

“I’d like to be involved in educating others about music,” said Maberry.