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CONCERT PROGRAM

Exsultate iusti in Domino – Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (1590-1664)
Pater peccavi – Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla

Native American Suite – Brent Michael Davids (b. 1959)

  1. Lenape Song
  2. I Still Love You Yet
  3. Zuni Sunrise Song
    R. Carlos Nakai, flute
    Dr. Sonja Branch, percussion

A Set of songs by R. Carlos Nakai

INTERMISSION

A Set of songs by R. Carlos Nakai

Song of the Anasazi: Soft Footfalls – Anne Kilstofte (b. 1954)

Mesa Songs – Judith Cloud (b. 1954)

  1. High Mesa Land
  2. There is a Color
  3. Power
    R. Carlos Nakai, flute
    Dr. Sonja Branch, percussion

 

Exsultate iusti in Domino and Pater peccavi – Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (1590-1664)

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla was born around 1590 in Málaga, Spain, where he studied with the cathedral’s music director before being ordained as a priest and serving as maestro de capilla (chapel master or music director) at Cádiz Cathedral for several years. He moved to New Spain (now Mexico) and worked as cantor and assistant music director at Puebla Cathedral, teaching and composing at one of the world’s most highly regarded music centers. By the age of 40 he was maestro de capilla at the cathedral, where he remained until his death 35 years later. Considered one of the masters of Mexican Baroque vocal music, Padilla was famous not only for the contrapuntal and canonic technique of his Latin motets but also for his villancicos, a vernacular form of madrigal or ballad originally using Spanish secular poetry for texts. Padilla popularized villancicos on sacred topics, bringing religious themes to a wide audience with drama and narrative. In addition to his composition work Padilla ran a workshop selling musical instruments throughout Mexico and the surrounding area, and also taught plainsong and polyphony, including instruction in the Colegio de San Pedro and the Colegio de San Juan. Padilla’s Pater peccavi uses the parable of the prodigal son to describe a father’s forgiveness, while Psalm 32 is the text of Exsultate iusti in Domino, praising and rejoicing in the Lord.

Native American Suite – Brent Michael Davids (b. 1959)

Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids was born in 1959, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Arizona State University – both in music composition — before training at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute and apprenticing with film composer Stephen Warbeck. Davids served as composer-in-residence at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) among other organizations. Drawing on images and instruments from contemporary Native American life for his work, Davids also incorporates musical instruments of his own design (like soprano and bass flutes made of quartz crystal) into traditional European orchestra, string quartet and ensemble configurations. Inspired by traditional Mohican life, he wrote Moon of the Falling Leaves for the Joffrey Ballet and multiple commissions for the Kronos Quartet, including The Singing Woods and Turtle People. In his compositions Davids encourages experimentation and intimacy with indigenous music to promote cross-cultural understanding; for example, Voices of Shadow Canyon explores his encounter with the people and petroglyphs of northern Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly.

Other commissioned works by Davids range from Powwow Symphony (for Powwow M.C. and Orchestra), performed by The Phoenix Symphony in 2002, to Canyon Sunrise for the National Symphony Orchestra and Prayer & Celebration for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” Davids was a clinician with Chanticleer at the 6th Symposium in Minneapolis, and his work for 200-voice chorus and orchestra, We the People, honors the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. His award-winning film scores include Valor’s Kids, Opal, Raccoon & Crawfish, The Silent Enemy and Bright Circle. Davids originated the Native American Composer Apprentice Project with the Grand Canyon Music Festival and the Composer Apprentice National Outreach Endeavor in Minnesota, Annual World Choral also founding the First Nations Composer Initiative and serving as its first artistic advisor.

The percussive Native American Suite — composed for the Dale Warland Singers in 1995 — integrates three traditional songs, and the score includes a carefully notated “vocable” pronunciation key. “Lenape Song (Delaware) is festive, sung by many people together,” wrote Davids. “As the group performs they bring themselves back into the community and the whole tribe into wellness.” The song begins with shaker and flute until the tenors and basses begin with a drum-like whisper. As the sopranos sing more aggressively, Lenape Song moves to a technique called “PWS,” Projected Whisper Singing, including a high flute-like vocal solo. Davids continued:

“The ‘49 song’ I Still Love You Yet (Apache) is used after powwows when the younger singers are not quite ready to quit. Usually well after midnight, the participants gather in a nearby spot and sing these 49 songs — a mixture of English lyrics and Native American vocables which form an intertribal way of communicating feelings. This particular piece is one Chesley Wilson (traditional singer, flute player and Apache violin maker) used to tease his wife who was married to another once before. I Still Love You Yet includes the teasing verse, “I don’t care if you’re married 16 times, I still love you yet, Oh Honey Dear…”

“The final Zuni Sunrise Song (Pueblo) celebrates the new day as it calls morning into existence,” added Davids. “This Suite presents an interesting blend of Native American melodies, lyrics and rhythms, as well as some interesting jazz harmonies combined with chorus vocal effects.”

Song of the Anasazi: Soft Footfalls – Anne Kilstofte (b. 1954)

 

Arizona-born and -based composer Anne Kilstofte has received honors from the American Composers Forum, the Fulbright Foundation, and ASCAP. Kilstofte served as composer-in-residence and assistant professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, also teaching in Estonia and Germany before moving to Surprise. As an advocate for female composers she served as president of the International Alliance for Women in Music and coordinator of the Beijing Congress for Women in Music. Kilstofte’s works include settings of verse by Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anne Boleyn, Rainier Maria Rilke and Charlotte Mew, as well as carols, string quartets, a Requiem for Still Voices, and “Bluegrass Hallelujah” using the text from Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus. Poet, translator, and children’s author Kevin Crossley-Holland has collaborated with composers including Nicola Lefanu, Sir Arthur Bliss and Stephen Paulus. He serves as president of Britain’s School Library Association and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Crossley-Holland’s text and Kilstofte’s music in Song of the Anasazi: Soft Footfalls are “an elegy to the spirit of the rock and the people who lived [in the Southwest] in the form of a sound sculpture,” according to the composer. Kilstofte wrote:

The piece begins as if one were merely walking up to this formation, and, as one moves closer, begins to hear a song that is always present. The music is constructed to sound like the water falling and dripping, over and over, and the footsteps taken, over and over. The chromatic twists and undulating ostinato symbolize the continuous footsteps which created these grooves, and the passage of water, running, flowing, and enhancing these grooves. Upon leaving it is much the same. The piece does not end so much as one merely walks away from it, out of earshot.

This work, which begins “almost whispered,” ends with only one soloist left singing each part and dying away in a decrescendo. It was commissioned by the Dale Warland Singers and premiered in 1995.

Mesa Songs – Judith Cloud (b. 1954)

 

 

Born in 1954 in Reidsville, North Carolina, Judith Cloud grew up singing in church before earning degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA) and Florida State University. She served on the faculties of Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Indiana State University and NCSA, and is currently Professor of Voice and Vocal Studies Coordinator at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, where she teaches studio voice and vocal pedagogy. As an orchestral and operatic mezzo-soprano soloist Cloud appeared with the Rome Festival Orchestra, the Tallahassee Symphony and the Jacksonville Symphony, performing for the radio show Saint Paul Sunday Morning, the Aspen Music Festival and the Sedona Chamber Music Festival. She also works as an active conductor and recitalist who performs with the NAU Faculty Chamber Players, and served as an artist-in-residence with the “Escape to Create” program of Florida’s Seaside Institute.

Cloud’s lyrical and rhythmically challenging vocal and instrumental works include the cantata Feet of Jesus, recorded on the BIS label by S:t Jacobs Chamber Choir and director Gary Graden, and Anacreontics, which took first place for the Sorel Medallion in Choral Composition in 2009. Three Mesa Songs, in which Cloud set the poetry of Betty Andrews for chorus with Native American flute, rainstick and Indian drum, won third place for the same award in 2008. Andrews (1933-1994) was a screenwriter for “Dr. Kildare” and Westerns including “Have Gun -Will Travel,” “Gunsmoke,” “Wagon Train” and “Bonanza.” Cloud explained, “I was introducedto her poetry in 1993 when she recited some of her own poems at a memorial service…. She agreed to send me some copies of her published collections and gave suggestions as to what poems I might set to music. Unfortunately, she died before she could hear the work I had composed.” Cloud continued:

When I arrived in Arizona in 1989, I fell in love immediately with the dramatic landscape: the red and orange earth, the bright blue and turquoise skies, an infinite expansiveness. These poems resonated deeply, and I began creating sounds that equaled my sensitivity to all, including the “wind” that did indeed feel as if it were “erasing” everything around it. I loved this poetry that not only described in a visceral sense the place where I was living, but revealed the ceremonies of the Hopi-Zuni Indians that I was just beginning to discover.

Cloud described High Mesa Land as “a joyous outburst with unisons and snippets of imitation ultimately revealing that sweeping expanse of land.” There Is A Color In Nature “transports the listener to a remote rural area of Taos where everything seems to slow almost to a complete stop as those bold characteristics of the region are felt ‘in the blood.’” Power, the final song, moves from “air-conditioned board rooms,” “sweat checked by chemicals” and “masks worn inside out” to a scene of dancing on Third Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Cloud said:

I set this poem with a constant pulse that quickens towards the end. The rhythmic thrust of the motive initiated by the basses is taken up by all voices in imitation and augmentation, the drum ever present moving the piece to its final climax, sopranos in high tessitura reiterating the word “dancing” while the voices come together in unison for the final line “To hold the structure of the world Together.”

— © Program notes by Katrina Becker.