Arts & Entertainment

Kamiakin grad composes 9/11 'Requiem'

Rick Vale grew up learning to play all sorts of instruments. The piano first caught his attention at age 4. Percussion, oboe, violin, viola and flute soon followed.

But it was his first piano teacher who recognized another of his talents at age 5 -- songwriting.

"I starting writing while at Kamiakin and wrote some music for the play productions, gave a concert of original songs at Kennewick High once, and the Kamiakin Class of 1977 commissioned me for the Kamiakin alma mater (song) as their gift to the school," Vale said in an email to the Herald. "They still sing it, Scarlet and Gold."

His September Requiem will debut Sept. 10 at the Ceremony of Remembrance 9/11 event at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon.

The 11-movement piece blends jazz, gospel and Broadway sounds and also will feature two vocal solos and a sax solo.

The piece was written for the city of Mount Vernon's tribute honoring the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

Vale, who now lives in Anderson, Ind., graduated from Kamiakin High in Kennewick in 1976. He attended Eastern Washington University for one year, then went on to get his music composition degree from Cornish College for the Arts in Seattle. His parents, Tom and Marge Vale, still live in the Tri-Cities.

"While at Cornish, I performed with Seattle Opera, Civic Light Opera, Tacoma Opera and several Pacific Northwest companies while doing some voice-over studio work," Vale said. "I worked for a couple of summers in New York's off-off-Broadway, and upstate in summer stock."

Summer stock is any theater stage production performed during the summer months.

Vale gave up the singing and acting in theater for a while after he got married and became a father. That's also when he became a fulltime music pastor in Anderson, Ind.

"While there, I wrote several songs recorded by my friend Sandi Patty, and published many of my choral pieces," he said.

Patty is a renowned contemporary Christian recording artist.

"I still sing, but now it's big band jazz with the Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra, and I do the occasional solo artist gig with some Midwest symphony orchestras, singing mostly Sinatra-style concerts," Vale said.

Vale also has performed in venues from Carnegie Hall to Siberia.

"I still do some theater, but locally in the community theater, not far from my home," he said. "I stage direct and do set design. And I have a few large commissions every once in a while."

The September Requiem piece is one of those commissions, he added.

When he wrote the piece, he tried to recall his impressions of New York City the first few times he visited.

"The musical styles (in NYC) really stuck out, for me at least," Vale said. "The entire work begins with an introductory theme played on unaccompanied sax that stops rather abruptly before the second theme is introduced in the orchestra.

"That theme is then in the last movement sung as candles held by each choir member are lit and ends with sax and piano alone."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;