April 12, 2010

A Suite for Native American Flute

Native American flute a Suite song

By W. Henry DuckhamThe program featured a work by a somewhat obscure African-American composer, William Grant Still; a world premiere of a suite based on a myth of the Cheyenne nation coupled with projections of arresting photographs; and the New World Symphony, a masterpiece composed in this country by a visitor in the late 1800s, Antonin Dvorak.

The central work, "A Suite for Native American Flute" by James Cockey, was written for the orchestra and virtuoso flute soloist Joseph FireCrow, who performed on a variety of flutes and drums. He was a riveting presence, dressed in distinctive ceremonial regalia and accompanied by evocative large-screen photographs of the soloist's native West by photographer Glenn Oakley.

The work, in eight parts and based on a Cheyenne legend, is a blend of dream and reality. It is the story of a hunter returning home from a successful hunt who, in a dream, is visited by an elk bringing him the gift of a flute. The elk summons him to bring the gift of music and the love associated with it to his people.

At the end of his life the hunter is to return the flute and bury it where he received it, a metaphor for the circle of life.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Symphony Incorporates Yu'pik Dance Song and The Last Stand Symphony.

No comments: