Artist Spotlight: Jesse Dochnahl

Paul Karner

This week, senior saxophonist Jesse Dochnahl was named one of the winners of the 2006 Lawrence Symphony Orchestra concerto competition, along with pianist Jestin Pieper. On March 10th Jesse will perform Darius Milhaud’s “Scaramouche” suite in Memorial Chapel accompanied by the LSO. We thought we’d jump the gun a bit get a sneak peak at one of Lawrence’s blossoming virtuosi.Where are you from and what is your major?
My home is in Montana – a mile high with over 6 million trout and about 650 folks. I’m majoring in music education and saxophone performance.

How long have you been involved in music?
Part one: I remember sitting in the back of my family’s Volkswagen bus on our trips across the Olympic Peninsula listening to Enya, Johnny Clegg, and Manheim Steamroller. Part two: We stopped by San Francisco. I was totally rapt by two independent street entertainers. One played the saxophone and the other tied balloons into poodles ‘n’ such. Naturally, I knew I wanted to be a balloonist, but I was too little. I warmed up to the trade by starting the saxophone in 4th grade. Wanna see a poodle?

What kind of experiences or opportunities led you to pursue music as a career?
I drove 65 miles every other week to get saxophone lessons in Bozeman. I enjoyed that. I’d say that’s the “experience” that could lead any musician to a career: digging the creativity. Also, my family has always been encouraging. If you’re going to contribute to overpopulation and have a kid, play some Enya.

What musicians or performers have been particularly inspirational to you?
Great performers that are passionate about teaching are my favorite – classmates, friends, professors – lighting fires everywhere. Professor Jordheim has been my leading source of musical inspiration and guidance over the last few years. I’d rather be anywhere else other than Appleton if it were not for him. The mountain peaks of elevated bliss in Outagamie seem to be missing.

Are there any other personal musical endeavors of yours that you’d care to mention?
Yes, please. I’ve got to take this privileged opportunity to thank an incredibly wonderful friend for her support. She needs to know that I, along with the whole darn campus (she’s touched so many people with her exceptional presence) wish her and her family the very best through inconceivably difficult times. We hope that she keeps the intense strength and courage blazing. We heard you, C.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope for the simple life. I’ll teach in the mountains, perform, learn, love, live on my mountain bike with three granny gears to spare, hike naked, practice the washboard, and possibly become an amiable old hermit in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The future could be like a mountain stream. And, why not? It flows so easily with effortless effort, influenced but not blocked. Plus, I like the organic smell of a wet rock.