November 23, 2008

Native symphony with sea chanties

Native cultures in the spotlightAs the Alaska Federation of Natives convention wound to a close Oct. 25, other events in Anchorage honored Native cultures. The Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts presented the world premiere of a new symphonic piece that integrates traditional dancing, drumming and singing and the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center hosted a blessing and farewell ceremony for an exhibit featuring items created by the Yup’ik peoples.

Echoes, a new symphony piece included cultural performers singing Sea Chanties and a Sneak Up Dancer. Sea Chanty singer Geoff Kaufman was accompanied by a small chorus of singers and dancers; Wampanoag Sneak Up Dancer Tobias Vanderhoop was on stage with drummers and lead singer Woody Vanderhoop: a large group of Alaska Native singers and dancers and Hawaiian Dancers with lead singers Calvin Wailani Avila and Kanani Pekelo Tyson all represented cultures affected by the whaling industry of the 1800s.

All of these cultures crossed paths during the days of whaling ships as the ships traveled from one ocean to the other, picking up members of communities along the way. In the 1800s Native people became workers on whaling vessels that traveled from the East coast to the Pacific Ocean and north to the Arctic Circle. Composer and conductor Randall Craig Fleischer was commissioned by the Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations to create a symphony piece to take the story of these shared experiences to a new level.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

No comments: