Artopia Masterminds

MasterMinds One Year Later: David Dove on Nameless Sound's 10-Year Anniversary

When Paul Knight talked to David Dove last year, the founding director of Nameless Sound, the two-pronged music education nonprofit organization, Dove said that the program was becoming more than the sum of its parts.

"(We're) on the brink of figuring out what this means," he said. "We are at the point where we have to decide, where do we go from here?"

Just one year after receiving a MasterMind Award from the Houston Press (and its $2,000 no-strings-attached stipend), Nameless Sound's organizers will have a chance to examine its legacy as the nonprofit celebrates its 10-year anniversary.

That anniversary will be marked next spring with a concert series featuring at least 25 musicians who were brought up and trained in Nameless Sound's programs, many of them in their 20s and 30s and working as serious musicians. The event is meant in part to show the unity between Nameless Sound's two symbiotic halves -- bringing unconventional musical education to schools, homeless communities and other groups, and bringing unconventional musicians to Houston to perform.

Over the past year, Nameless Sound has been able to expand its educational staff of teachers by adding two more part-time music instructors to the two full-time teachers already on board. As a result, "we'll be reaching a couple hundred new kids next year," Dove said.

In addition, in the past year Nameless Sound has presented a number of sold out shows, including the Houston debut of the Roswell Rudd Trombone Trio, led by the legendary 1960s avant-garde jazz musician.

Next month, they'll also be honoring drummer Alvin Fielder, who used to frequent places like the El Dorado ballroom and who worked with Sun Ra, with a fundraiser on January 19 and a concert on January 20.

While Dove said that a year is a short time in which to make sweeping changes, he is taking this opportunity to look as ways in which the musicians who have learned from Nameless Sound can help shape the organization in the future. "We're looking at all we've done in the last ten years."

One project, for example, included making electronic music with circuits and computers, something he says traditional music education programs would have had a hard time doing.

"Our teaching staff is made up of people who've come through our program. They're musicians who represent a wide range of genres," Dove said. "It could be that Nameless Sound is not just an organization that has an improv ensemble, it could also be an organization that has an electronic ensemble or a performance art ensemble or a jazz ensemble. Look at these resources we have. Look at how different the music scene in Houston is now compared to 10 years ago. So how do we use those resources? That's the challenge."

Winners of this year's three MasterMind Awards will be announced in the January 26 publication of the Houston Press. Winners will each receive a check for $2,000 along with a plaque at a special ceremony that is part of the Press's annual Artopia Party celebrated at the Winter Street Studios on Saturday, January 28, 2012.