Unforgettable Sunrise chronicles the remarkable journey of Jacob Rock, a non-verbal autistic teenager, from being unable to convey his autism-related physical pain, ability to read and write, or the amazing whirlwind of creativity in his “camera-like” brain to ultimately gaining a hard-earned ability to vividly type out his thoughts and feelings with his index finger on an iPad, thus allowing him unleash his emotions, intelligence, and creativity on an unsuspecting world.
In the great tradition of Wild Honey’s creative north star, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, “Unforgettable Sunrise” is an eclectic, playful, adventurous, and intensely emotional work.
Conducted by the acclaimed Daniel Newman-Lessler https://www.danielnewmanlessler.com/, Unforgettable Sunrise is a kaleidoscopic 70-minute musical journey that often recalls symphonic Frank Zappa, Gershwin, Copland, Bach, and more, but vividly expresses the unique musical vision of its creators: Jacob Rock (age 19), and Wild Honey musical director Rob Laufer, an acclaimed singer/songwriter, producer, and band leader. https://www.roblaufermusic.com/
Here is a link to an audio sample of Unforgettable Sunrise: https://soundcloud.com/gorky15/unforgettable-sunrise-sampler
BACK STORY: For most his 19 years, Jacob Rock, diagnosed with severe autism at age three, has only been able to roughly verbalize the words “yes” and “eat.” His crippling inability to communicate spawned bouts of violent, often bloody, and increasingly compulsive self-injury. In 2020, a breakthrough with an iPad typing app enabled Jacob to begin communicating with his index finger, to his family – and to the world. He immediately declared that he wanted to be called Jacob, not Jake. Soon, he began writing smart, compassionate poems, literate movie reviews, and expressing fierce political idealism. Through his dad-held iPad, Jacob has revealed an intellectual enthusiasm beyond anyone’s wildest hopes or expectations.
Then, six months after communicating via iPad, a bombshell: the Brian Wilson/Bob Dylan-loving Jacob casually revealed that he had just finished composing a 71-minute symphony in his head, but he would need help extracting it. In the following weeks, Jacob typed out a detailed description of his musical vision. It was a roadmap, consisting of six movements showing, moment by moment, tempo, mood, main instruments, sense of story, and the intended emotional impact. An example: “The violins are demanding sleep and the horns are demanding pain. They battle for three minutes of call and response until the horns realize that they are defeated.”
Jacob’s vision has found its perfect collaborator in family friend and Wild Honey Foundation Musical Director Rob Laufer. Following Jacob’s notes, Rob created the score to Jacob’s spec.
In Rob’s words: “I compose music that Jacob feels is close enough to what he is hearing, that fulfills his vision. He will let me know immediately if I play him a new section that doesn’t work for him. He gives me instructions on how to expand or improve certain sections. He has nixed entire sections. I have never disagreed with his judgment. It’s always completely grounded and guided by the clarity of his artistic vision. When I get it right, Jacob’s face practically explodes with joy. It is something to behold.” Upon hearing the third movement brought to life, Jacob typed ‘I want to cry because it is so perfect. I love that Rob can read my mind.’”
Tickets to the orchestral premiere performance of Unforgettable Sunrise available at http://www.alextheatre.org
About the Wild Honey Foundation: Since 1994, Wild Honey Foundation, a 501(c)(3), non-profit, has produced concerts, film screenings, online fundraisers, and live stream events to benefit autism treatment/research and a variety of important progressive causes.
Led by Paul Rock, David Jenkins, and Andrew Sandoval, Wild Honey is a grass roots, volunteer organization dedicated to passing on the passion, creativity, and idealism found in rock, rhythm & blues, folk, classical, and pop music to future generations through cultural events of all types. Wild Honey has produced a string of sold-out all-star autism benefit shows since 2013, featuring the music of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Kinks, Buffalo Springfield, The Band, Big Star, and the Lovin’ Spoonful. Its most recent tribute show was in May 2023 devoted to Lenny Kaye’s legendary Nuggets garage-rock compilation, the event declared by Variety as one of the “top 10 concerts of the year (so far).” Featuring its non-verbal autistic visionary as co-creator, Unforgettable Sunrise is Wild Honey’s initial foray into classical music.
For more information on the Wild Honey Foundation, please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/WIldhoneyfoundation/