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Between Two Cultures



March 11, 2023 @ 7:30 PM - Belle Mehus


Hear an unforgettable celebration of local culture with the soulful strains of Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s Lakota “Victory Songs” and Russ Peterson’s “Between Two Cultures.” This concert is not to be missed.

You can purchase tickets here, or at the Bismarck Event Center box office.
 

Program

The Wolves of Yellowstone............Dr. John Darling
 
Violin Concerto, in G Minor Op. 80.......Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)
      I. Allegro maestoso
      II. Andante semplice - Andantino
      III. Allegro molto - moderato 
                       Katya Moeller, violin
 
INTERMISSION
 
Waktégli Olówan (Victory Songs) for solo baritone and orchestra...Jerod Tate (b. 1968)
      Introduction
      Red Cloud (Maȟpíya Úta)
      Two-Strike (Núm KaȟpÁ)
      Gall (Phizí)
      Crazy Horse (Tȟašúŋke Witkó)
      Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake)
                       Dr. Jason Thoms, baritone 
 
Between Two Cultures..................Dr. Russell Peterson
       1. "Unknown Territory"
       2. "Windigo vs. The Cannibal Man"
       3. "Once Upon a Time" 
    (Inspired by artwork of Star Wallowing Bull) 
 

Program Notes

The Wolves of Yellowstone
 
In 1995 through 1997, 41 wild wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after nearly a century of being driven out of the territory. The Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project has been an overwhelming success. Glimpses of a new Yellowstone are taking shape. Gone for most of the 20th century, wolves and other carnivores have made a comeback, helping the park’s ecological system to balance the years of neglect and overpopulation of several species in the park, most notably the elk herds. January 12, 2020, marked the 25th anniversary since wolves returned to Yellowstone.
 
“The Wolves of Yellowstone” is a short tone poem intended to trace the reintroduction of the wolves back into Yellowstone. Although the actual time period took several months, this piece depicts a single day of a sunrise, the sweeping visa of the park, the first tentative steps of the wolves outside the enclosure they were kept in, a frolicking playful period that turns quickly into a hunt, chase and kill of an elk, and finally a sunset. The dissonance heard at the beginning of the piece being replace by the mostly tonal serene ending is a symbolic representation of the balance being restored within the park’s ecological system.
- Dr. John Darling
 
 
Violin Concerto, in G Minor, Op 80
 
In the early 1900’s British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor had three tours to the United States. During these tours, he became reacquainted with the American violin pioneer Maud Powell. Powell, who had a profound influence on violin playing in the U.S., and Coleridge-Taylor, actually shared similar stories of overcoming the respective prejudices they faced. He, as a black musician in the classical arena and she as a professional female violinist. By all accounts they were also both committed advocates of racial equality and shared a passion for the violin and music of different cultures. Powell was responsible for the violin transcriptions of Coleridge-Taylor’s original piano settings of Negro spirituals, including Deep River from his groundbreaking set of 24 Negro Melodies op.59 (published 1905). Powell performed that arrangement during her recital at Carnegie Hall in October 1911. This was the first time in history that a white, classically trained artist had played a spiritual in a concert hall. Taylor’s Violin Concerto in G minor op.80, is dedicated to Powell. The concerto could be seen as a personal story written for a friend. It is said that Powell joked that it was ‘Taylor-made’ for her. 
 
 
Waktégli Olówan (Victory Songs)
 
Waktégli Olówaŋ is composed in honor of Lloyd Running Bear, Sr. and all Lakota Indian warriors. It is based upon the book Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, by Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohíye S’a). Eastman (1858-1939) was a Santee Sioux Indian physician, writer, lecturer and reformer. His literary output is an outstanding personal account of Sioux history. Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains is a set of 15 biographies of historic Sioux warriors, most of whom Eastman knew personally. Traditional Sioux victory songs are made specifically for Lakota warriors and their immediate victories and accomplishments. They are either composed by a warrior who is recounting their victories in battle, or are made in honor of a recently fallen warrior. These songs are of great importance, for they actually serve as aural historical documents of Lakota citizens. Waktégli Olówaŋ is an orchestral rhapsody, inspired by Eastman’s writings, and features five of the warriors in his book: Red Cloud, Two Strike, Gall, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Through symphonic and vocal poetry, each movement depicts a warrior and his deeds. The introduction expresses honor and respect to the Great Sioux Nation from a Chickasaw man. Musical material is inspired by and quoted from existing Lakota victory songs and honor songs. Original poetry is by the composer.
- Jarod Tate
 
 
Between Two Cultures
 
I was commissioned by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony to compose a work for the 2005/06 season-opening concert. When the Plains Art Museum and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony decided to make a collaborative evening of the art and music, I was introduced to Star Wallowing Bull. As I have worked with him, it has been a real thrill to study his work and to get a glimpse into a variety of cultures that have shaped his life.

Initially, Star had reservations about how the orchestra and music might reconcile with his art, but as we worked together, the realm of possibilities opened up, and we both gained enthusiasm for the project.

I first met Star at his studio. He showed me several pieces that would be in the exhibition. After a few minutes of talking with Star and seeing his work, I knew what I was going to do with the Symphony's piece. I decided to name my symphonic work after Star's exhibition Between Two Cultures. I would score for full orchestra: with two flutes, both doubling on piccolo; two oboes, with the second doubling on English horn; two B flat clarinets; one bass clarinet; one alto saxophone; three bassoons, with the third doubling on contra; four French horns; two trumpets; three trombones; one tuba; timpani; and four percussionists-all playing a variety of instruments, harp, and strings.

The piece is based on three of Star's drawings. The first movement is based on the work Unknown Territory. It begins with our principal flutist playing a traditional, wooden, Native American flute. The movement explores the dark and distant look on the man's face in the drawing, as well as his contemplation and rage. To me, the loss of his arms signifies the loss of something deeper: his culture? his land? his family?

The second movement is based on Windigo versus the Cannibal Man. This drawing depicts a fight between two evil spirits. The music is driving and dark. This movement evokes my understanding of the sounds at a pow wow, where the alto saxophone is the leader and the rest of the orchestra answers the chant. As the piece builds to climax with the fight.
 
The last movement is based on Once Upon a Time. This drawing seems very significant to Star, as it represents a new beginning in his life. From out of a very troubled past he's reaching for a star-success, a new life (thanks to a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian). The Movement begins with the full string section playing rather a somber, intense music. The pensive mood turns heroic with the brass section entering and the piece's end is uplifting and positive.

I'm thankful to the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony and the Plains Art Museum for making this collaboration possible. I'm also grateful to Star for sharing his culture and his personal stories.
- Dr. Russell Peterson