Sophomore Writes Composition for Jax State Chamber Winds


David Clasgens will conduct "A Spectacle of Discovery" on March 4, 7:30 p.m., in Leone Cole Auditorium.

by Brett Buckner 

When David Clasgens was brainstorming ideas for a musical composition, he wanted it to reflect both the joys and hardships of his life. 

img_7585.jpeg“I had this simple theme in the back of my head for the longest time,” said Clasgens, a Jax State sophomore majoring in music. “I thought I could finally put that theme on paper through this composition. I then came up with the chord progressions for this theme and added a variety of counter melodies, harmonies, variations and embellishments to give it more life and flavor.”

The result was an original composition titled “A Spectacle of Discovery,” which will premiere Monday, March 4, as part of the JSU Chamber Winds Concert at 7:30 p.m. in Leone Cole Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

“What sets this performance apart is that David himself will be conducting the piece,” said Dr. Ken Bodiford, JSU’s director of bands. “It’s an opportunity that is both rare and indicative of his exceptional abilities as a musician and leader. It's not every day that a sophomore composer gets the chance to have their work performed by the top concert band ensemble, let alone conduct it themselves. It’s also not common for a sophomore to write a piece of this magnitude – he is a super talented student.”

Growing up in Nashville, Music City, Clasgens said he was “obsessed” with listening to classical music and film scores. He arranged the entire halftime show production for his high school marching band at John Overton High School for two years, as well as a few arrangements for the jazz band. More recently, he wrote “Pan is the Plan” for the JSU steel drum band. However, “A Spectacle of Discovery” is his first major work for a large ensemble.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to write like my musical heroes – John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Horner, and many other film composers,” he said. “The more I listened to their music, the more I started to notice their patterns and strategies in creating memorable themes.”

At JSU, he is focusing his studies on percussion performance. He is a member of the Marching Southerners, Chamber Winds, Jazz Ensemble I, Percussion Ensemble, INFERNO Steel Band and the Hardcorps pep band. While only a sophomore, he has already started thinking about what he’d like to do after graduation. While being a percussionist in a military band is a possibility, he said he would like to combine his love for music with a different kind of rush.

“I grew up traveling to theme parks all over the country, and I’ve always been a roller coaster enthusiast,” he said. “I think a composer for theme park rides would be a fitting gig for me considering my love for composing and riding roller coasters. I’ve also thought about writing music for films, commercials and video games.”