Styles blend in concert collaboration
By Peter Harriman
From this background, the collaborative Lakota Music Project took shape, aided by a National Endowment for the Arts grant.
The concerts across South Dakota recognize that both the orchestra and the drum group are keepers of respective musical traditions, Gier says. To that end, Ronnie Theisz, a faculty member at Black Hills State University and a member of the Porcupine Singers, suggested each group explore four themes in the first part of the concert. The themes are courtship and love; warriors; death and mourning; and joy.
During a rehearsal Tuesday at Augustana College, the drum group and orchestra began to hammer out the nuts and bolts of their collaboration. The fact that the orchestra works from printed music and the Lakota singers from an oral tradition meant the Porcupine Singers have to accommodate somewhat to the traditions of orchestra music.
But while Brent Michael David's "Black Hills Olowan" composition initially highlights distinctions between the two musical styles, there comes a point where they merge and follow the Lakota lead. The woodwinds and strings echo the lyrical keening of Young Bear, Theisz, Emmanuel Black Bear, Tim Black Bear and John Mesteth. The sound soars, seems ready to float the roof off the rehearsal room and crumble the cinder block walls.