June 01, 2008

Tribal drum and symphony orchestra

Spokane Symphony and Spokane Tribal Drum join in performanceBringing together a tribal drum with a symphony orchestra seemed an unlikely union, but the results were dramatic. The performance, which took place at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox in downtown Spokane, gave symphony-goers a chance to learn more of the Spokane tribal culture while tribal members likewise learned more about symphony music.

A pre-concert event allowed people to view a variety of exhibits featuring Spokane tribal art, culture and history at Center Stage across from The Fox.

The theme of the day was "The River is Calling" and portrayed the importance of the Spokane River to the Spokane Tribe. Spokane Symphony Conductor Eckart Preu explained how this event originated.

"Four years ago, we were invited to go to Wellpinit [on the reservation] and visit and share our culture and get to know their culture. We got together, we sang together, and we danced together. It was so exciting and ever since we have invited them to come here to work with us. Finally, they are here and ready to share their culture with us, to make music with us, to sing with us. We are very, very excited to have them here."
How it went:The final performance was the joint piece performed by the symphony and the Spokane Tribal Drum. Special permission was given to commission a piece based on a Spokane Honor Song, and it was written by Gregory Yasinitsky. Tribal member Pat Moses explained the song's history, how it had originated during a time of conflict and was particularly meaningful to the tribe.

Many might have questioned how well an Honor Song as performed by a tribal drum would sound when united with the many stringed instruments and woodwinds of a symphony orchestra, but the result was spectacular. The audience reacted enthusiastically with a long applause.

The afternoon concluded with a travel song by the Spokane Tribe Drum Circle, with the symphony conductors joining the circle.

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