Sunday, April 11, 2010

Native American Music

I must interrupt this month of poem posts to write about Joseph Firecrow, a Native American flautist, a Cheyene who collaborated with Idaho composer, Jim Cockey, and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra whose conductor is Jung-Ho Pak on a new piece of very programmatic music called "The Gift of the Elk". The ticket for this concert was a Christmas present, somewhat delayed in timing. Mr. Firecrow played three different flutes, sang short bits and drummed; he was a magnificent figure in a white fringed shirt. The music was accompanied by an overhead video/slide show of scenes in the Idaho, Wyoming area including, of course, elk as well as Native people, bison and landscapes. It was definitely not high-brow but the music was lovely and Mr. Firecrow had great presence as well as skill. This was a world premier. And it was an audience pleasure.

Mr Pak does imaginative programming. This concert began with William Grant Still's "From the Black Belt", which was comprised of seven short pieces, and ended with Dvorak's "From the New World" symphony. This was my first hearing of the Cape Cod Symphony and it was a very positive experience, in a very attractive school auditorium packed with people, a big orchestra, a dynamic conductor. With many years of deep involvement with a small city's orchestra in my background, I found this a very encouraging concert as well as good listening. The ethnic diversity is especially exciting in a part of the US where I find a lot of parochialism. I've found, so far, that theatre is pretty bad, art widely varied but mostly not good. But bookstores are good and I'm meeting lively and interesting people at the adult ed academy. Scales tip toward the positive and that's not counting ocean, beaches and neon-less downtowns of the villages.


Kass said...

I love Indian flute music. I use it in my massage practice a lot. I'm really curious how this collaboration sounded.

June Calender said...

Sound -- lovely! The orchestral music never overpowered the flutes [he used three of different sizes]. The drums were used mainly in the PowWow sections that began and ended the piece. The chants were brief. Since this was the world premier it has not been recorded but I suspect it might be in the future. He is a fine flautist and does have a couple of CDs, you can probably find out about them on his website.