Reflecting on David

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Yellow Barn directors Seth Knopp and Catherine Stephan share their memories of David Wells:

David once crowed (yes, he sounded like Peter Pan!) that his festival, Yellow Barn, was about Food, Music and Love. David was true to his words. He offered sustenance with the generosity of a Jewish mother and ate with the pleasure of a Roman emperor. His approach to music-making seemed at once raw and instinctive, shaped by his intense connection to the senses, and yet touched with the nobility of deep understanding. I am not sure that I have ever met anyone who connects these as seamlessly as David did. And David’s love; so many have felt it in his intense desire to share what he heard and in his unquenchable thirst to learn.

Those of us who, moved by an artist’s music, often harbor hope that their art is a reflection of the human being, can look to David as a shining example that this can be so.

- Seth Knopp, Artistic Director

David spun many stories for me when I was his student, so I am going to spin one about him. Like all of David's students I had two copies of every score that I explored in my lessons with him: his copy and mine. I would play, and he would make marks. First he would underline something. Then he would circle it, then put little lines around the circle, then longer lines...there were times when his copy of the score looked like a Batman comic. Then he would start erasing as I remembered my intentions. We were done when his copy of the score was clean again. Along the way I would put marks in my score also, but I didn't have the courage to erase them. That is the difference between David and me. He has the courage to wrestle with something and come out clean. I still strive to make my score look like David's score. And that's David, too. He inspires us to face life and all of its challenges, and then let go, with grace.

- Catherine Stephan, Executive Director

Read David's history, view photographs, and listen to recordings of David