P&S Journal: Fall 1995, Vol.15, No.3
A Murder and a Life Rebuilt: By Douge Brunk
A Gift Honors a Fellow Musician
Jonathan Newmark'78 remembers John Chase Wood Jr.'76 as more than a committed husband, promising pediatric surgeon, and rugby teammate. He recalls a gifted French horn player who considered classical music one of life's joys.
"John was one of the few people of my generation who integrated medicine and music very well," says Dr. Newmark, a pianist who often accompanied Dr. Wood. "He was not a close friend of mine, and I'm very sorry about that. But we did a couple of concerts together."
Dr. Wood came to medical school from the Juilliard School of Music, where he had been a student of the French horn and composition. At P&S, he formed his own chamber group and played regularly with the Trenton Symphony Orchestra.
In September 1994 Dr. Newmark, now a neurologist at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., began drafting a musical composition to honor his late colleague. Initial sparks for the idea came after an overnight visit to his parents in New Jersey, when he learned a suspect had been arrested for the 1981 murder of Dr. Wood. "The one night I stayed in the New York area happened to be the very day of the suspect's arrest," Dr. Newmark recalls. "I was forced to think about that case again for the first time in 13 years."
When he returned home to Lakewood, Wash., he traveled to Seattle to show a composer friend some of the music he was writing. "She liked what I had written and suggested that the next work should be a continuous variation piece," he says.
On the hour-long drive home he conceived a framework for what became the tribute composition.
"It got written remarkably quickly,"
Dr. Newmark says. "The theme is original, but during the fugue I have quoted three times a four-bar phrase which is the beginning of the 'Sonata for Horn and Piano' by Paul Hindemith." The Hindemith piece was the last piece of music he played with Dr. Wood.Dr. Newmark titled his composition "Chaconne And Fugue for Horn and Piano," which clocks in at just under 10 minutes. He and Philip Bonney of the I Corps Band performed it publicly for the first time June 18 at the First Special Forces Group Chapel at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Dr. Newmark hopes the piece will be performed at P&S some day. He sent copies of the score to Dr. Wood's widow, Diana Wood'88, and his father, John Chase Wood Sr.'49. Dr. Wood Sr. then wrote to the medical school asking the P&S Musicians' Guild to consider performing the work, and Dr. Newmark followed up. He hasn't been to P&S since Dr. Wood's memorial service.
"I am more than happy to come to New York to perform it or to hear it done," he says. "The piece would not have been written if it were not for John."