By Mike Dunham
Afcan's Yup'ik dance song ("yuraq") received royal treatment in "Exposition on the Anchorage Museum," which Music Nova commissioned from Gregory Prechel of California and which the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra debuted this weekend.
In the program notes, Prechel acknowledges that three themes in the movement are "inspired by melodies handed down from the heritage of Alaska Natives." In a phone call after the concert, Afcan was surprised to hear about the program or the inclusion of "Ciuliamta" in it.
Prechel must share the enthusiasm of the St. Marys elders for the palpable power of the song. It dominates the movement. Prechel brilliantly develops Afcan's 12-note motif into the most exciting and satisfying part of "Exposition." This section had me on the edge of my chair. The same tune gets tucked into the finale, "Alaskan Landscapes," along with the initial fanfare and other previously-heard themes.