Rifle, CO; ... 29, 2003--On July 6, 1994, 14 ... ... Smoke Jumpers from Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Colorado and other western states died when fierce winds fanned towering flames up
Rifle, CO; September 29, 2003--On July 6, 1994, 14 firefighters, including Smoke Jumpers from Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Colorado and other western states died when fierce winds fanned towering flames up Storm King Mountain (just west of Glenwood Springs, CO). They had been spending the better part of the day clearing brush and digging trenches to slow the spreading fires, when high winds forced them to run for cover. With nowhere to run, outpacing the fast moving flames was impossible on the steep slopes. Forced to take cover inside their protective shelters as the flames whipped over them, 14 never made it through the firestorm.
In September 1998, Colorado musician and JavaMusiK recording artist Jeff Van Devender sat at the piano in the music room of the school he just started teaching at. The window of his new room happened to have a perfect view of Storm King Mountain. Van Devender had witnessed the terrible tragedy in '94, not knowing until he got home that evening how awful it really was.
"The smoke created a mushroom type cloud which glowed as it hung over the mountain," he remembered. "As we headed home (Gypsum at the time), the walls of Glenwood Canyon revealed a reddish-orange color which was eerily quite beautiful." Upon turning on the TV however, the scope of the tragedy began to unfold as continuous news updates blanketed the airwaves reporting the passing of so many heroes.
As Van Devender sat in his new workplace, in the shadow of Storm King, the melody began to flow. He remembered the images he had witnessed, flames cresting over mountain ridges, glowing smoke hovering in the mid-day sunlight, emergency personnel working to restore order and, most of all, the brave souls who came from other parts of the country and sacrificed their lives while trying to save material possessions and the beautiful environment surrounding a resort community. "The powerful story just took over & before I knew it, everything was in place," he remembers.
Storm King Sacrifice turned out to be a descriptive piece from beginning to end. The listener can visualize the mountain sitting in all it's splendor, before being attacked by the flames. Suddenly, a stark progression of 14 chords climbs toward it's final ascent leading to an unmistakable, overwhelming silence. In the end, despite the best efforts of those who sacrificed so much, the mountain burned, then revealed it's own new life, reflecting nature's inevitable cycle.
More information about this piece and other music by JavaMusiK pianist Jeff Van Devender is available at www.soundclick.com/javamusik and www.javamusik.com. The song Storm King Sacrifice is available on Van Devender's latest release, 'Bending Chords,' and is available at www.cdbaby.com/vand2 or 1-800-289-6923. Proceeds from the sale of each cd purchased through www.cdbaby.com/vand2 will be donated to a firefighter memorial fund.
Jeff Van Devender can be found performing every weekend in Estes Park, CO at the Stanley Hotel & Glenwood Springs, CO at Glenwood Caverns Exclamation Point Restaurant & during the ski season in Aspen, CO at the St. Regis Hotel. He also plays for St. John's Episcopal Church every Sunday in New Castle, CO. Van Devender lives in Rifle, CO and is an elementary music teacher in Parachute.
Colorado pianist Jeff Van Devender witnessed the Storm King Fire in 1994 which killed 14 firefighters. Several years later he wrote Storm King Sacrifice for piano at the base of Storm King Mountain, a touching and descriptive tribute to the fallen heroes who lost their lives battling the elements on that fateful day.