Kellogg High School grad composes piece based on Sunshine Mine Disaster

The following story was published in the Shoshone News-Press this morning, and originally was published in the Coeur d'Alene Press last Friday, here. Nick was a good friend of Inland Empire Girl, and they graduated from Kellogg High School the same year. Also, "The Deep Dark" is a great book written by Gregg Olsen retelling the story of the Sunshine Mine Distaster that happened here in the Silver Valley on May 2, 1972. I met Olsen when he came to interview my mom for the book "The Deep Dark", and ended up working with him on some other things. He is a wonderful writer, and a wonderful person as well.

Tomorrow at 11 a.m. there will be a memorial service at the Miner's Memorial statue at the Big Creek exit off I-90. It is always a very moving service that remembers the 91 men who died in this tragic event.


Nick Thorpe composed an original piece inspired by the Silver Valley mining disaster in the 1970s.

Composer enters the 'Deep Dark'


Staff writer

It took 30 years for composer Nick Thorpe to find his way back to North Idaho. Born in Wallace, Thorpe followed his music career to New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He began as a trumpet player but evolved to write full compositions for Disney, Carnival Cruises and several Vegas shows.

His 8-year-old daughter prompted him to finally leave Los Angeles."It was one of those things where I just couldn't let her grow up there," Thorpe said.

Now living in Coeur d'Alene with his wife and daughter, Thorpe is using his talents to reconnect with the past. Inspired by the book, "The Deep Dark," by Gregg Olsen, Thorpe crafted a 12-minute composition about the Silver Valley mine disaster of 1972. After reading the book, Thorpe couldn't get Olsen's words out of his head.

"He did in-depth interviews with so many of the people involved," Thorpe said. "The Silver Valley is just a unique place and he captured it so perfectly.On May 2, 1972, a fire trapped workers inside the Sunshine Silver Mine. Ninety-one men died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and only two of the trapped workers survived.

"I was a junior at Kellogg High School," Thorpe said. "It was a tight knit community and it was pretty devastating. For two or three weeks I was out of school playing 'Taps.'"

Thorpe created three separate movements for "The Deep Dark." For the first movement, titled "Silver Valley Morning," Thorpe wanted to capture the happy, serene times in the area. The second movement, "Into the Depths," blends the heroic elements of the event with the tragic outcome.

"It's definitely nasty," he said. "You've got this element that depicts the carbon monoxide gas and the frantic efforts to get these guys out."

The third movement, "Aftermath," is a tribute to the people who didn't survive."It's very choral and hymn-like, and then it transitions into this idea of re-growth, about how the community has pulled itself up by its bootstraps," he said.

Photos of the event provided by the U.S. Bureau of Mines will be shown during the performance. Thorpe made a point to contact Olsen and ask permission to use the "Deep Dark" title.

"I felt like there wasn't a more appropriate name," Thorpe said.

The composition premieres May 3 at the Coeur d'Alene Symphony season finale concert.Technology has enabled Thorpe to continue his career in North Idaho, working in a full-scale recording studio from his home. His biggest client remains Carnival Cruise Lines, and recent work has included original music in Disney projects like "Lilo & Stitch" and the television series, "The Emperor's New School."

"It gives me some credibility with my daughter," he said.

Thorpe also worked as orchestrator on the album, "Full Circle" by rapper/actor Xzibit. He was initially surprised and even reluctant to tackle the genre."The preconceived ideas I had about rap were totally changed," Thorpe said.

"It was very professional and I was impressed by what we came up with."

Thorpe hopes the freedom of being back in North Idaho will allow him to take on more projects like "The Deep Dark."

"Musicians are asked what comes first, the music or the lyrics. Really, the answer is the check, but I love doing this. I'm never adverse to doing things if time permits," he said.

The season finale of the Coeur d'Alene Symphony Orchestra also includes performances of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" and Mendelssohn's "Concerto for Two Pianos," featuring the talents of pianists Jay and Sandy Mauchley.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center at NIC.Tickets are $15 adults, $12 seniors and $8 students. Call 769-7780 for advance tickets. Visit the symphony Web site at http://www.cdasymphony.org/.


Inland Empire Girl said...

Very interesting story. I would love to hear the compostion. I linked your post to mine about the mine disaster.

John L. said...

Thanks for the post. My grandfather (my moms dad) Robert
Waldvogel was one of the 91 who died in this tragedy. I wish I could go see this.

Cedar Street Kid said...

Nice post. May God bless all of the families on this day. A very sad day, indeed.