Take, for instance, Louis Ballard's "Osage Variations," which opened the evening. Like other works on the program, there was nothing overtly or obviously "Indian" about it; in fact, its musical language was fairly conventional. But the theme was gorgeous, and the variations wildly vivid, rich in melodic invention and dramatic power. Similarly, George Quincy, a Choctaw, showed a postmodernist edge in his three-part "The Release of the Choctaw Fire Bird," which blended 19th-century romanticism, contemporary angularity and folkish melodic fragments into a colorful and distinctive whole.
Quincy's piece evoked ancient myths (a theme throughout the evening), as did "Sky Bear," a dazzling, kinetic work by the Mohican Brent Michael Davids. The world premiere of Barbara Croall's "Inscription Rock" was equally intriguing but much darker in tone, using dampened strings to evoke elemental sounds. Raven Chacon, a Navajo (and the most avant-garde of the composers), contributed the spare, meditative "Nilchi Shada'ji Nalaghali" for piano and electronic sounds; an admirable piece, but hard to love.
For more on Louis Ballard, see Quapaw Composer Dies.
Post a Comment