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Oshtali – Music For String Quartet - Chickasaw Student Composers
Fantasia by Joseph Cruise BERRY [5:37]
Here’s the Hurt by Katelyn DUTY [4:47]
Yeah…I Hit Like a Girl by Amanda SHACKLEFORD [1:56]
Holhchifo Ki’yo by Dylan BENNETT [3:55]
Concerto for Strings by John MCALESTER [7:19]
Lullaby by Aubrey HALFORD [2:09]
Enough by Courtney PARCHCORN [2:11]
Innominate by Johnothan BOMBOY [4:43]
Solo by Ryan MAY [4:16]
Lucky’s Charm by Johnothan BOMBOY [2:37]
The Devil’s Advocate by Katie BARRICK [4:45]
Stages by Aubrey HALFORD [3:45]
The Seven Seas by Dylan BENNETT [2:55]
The River of Our Times by Amanda SHACKLEFORD [6:27]
Innocence by Courtney PARCHCORN [4:16]
Sigur by Stasen WHITEHEAD [3:23]
Ethel
rec. 22-24 January 2010, Wanda L. Bass Music Center, Oklahoma City University
THUNDERBIRD ACD71258 [65:01]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc is the outcome of a project under which sixteen compositions for string quartet by young twenty-something composers of Chickasaw lineage have been recorded. Several composers are represented by two pieces.

Berry's Fantasia is a gritty urgent little assault. It is part Herrmann and part Bartók with an insinuatingly mesmerising haunted central interlude. The death of her father is a focus for Duty's Here's the Hurt. Emotions that are by turns subdued and piercingly razor-like are reflected in the music. After two string quartet-only works – yes Ethel is a string quartet - Yeah ... I hit like a girl by Shackleford instantly commands attention with its addition of a drum and shouted Ki-ai. A martial arts-inspired piece, it's vital and varied but rather too short for its own good and ends perfunctorily. Holhchifo Ki'yo by Dylan Bennett has some dance-like music that occasionally sounds Hungarian to me. It’s a self-portrait of the composer. The sweetly elegiac tone is very memorable at 2:00 but there's room for dissonance too. Concerto for Strings is by John McAlester. Another reserved piece from a composer who is partial to the Mahler symphonies and soundtracks. Mahler is to the fore but then so are the later quartets by Beethoven and Dvorák. Aubrey Halford's Lullaby is the composer's breaking away, at least temporarily, from her predilection or compulsion for works of conflict. It has a Bachian serenity and well suits her inspiration to create a mood-piece for laying someone tenderly to sleep. Courtney Parchcorn's Enough again meets its mission of conveying some sense of the composer being pulled in four directions. There's a caustic edge to her writing. Innominate is a little piece by Johnothan Bomboy. It adds a piano to the quartet and tracks the music through radiant contemplative Einaudi territory. Ryan Lee May is a guitar senior and Solo is his first composition. It has a touch of Rodrigo about it although clearly it is from a troubled place. Bomboy returns with Lucky's Charm which again includes a drum in the score. The piece is essentially a jolly Civil War-style folksy populist piece. The Devil's Advocate is by Katie Barrick and in its Bachian start seems set to stay in the same territory as the Aubrey Halford. Soon the music morphs into a lively Celtic dance/jig. Back to Halford again for Stages - a very emotionally and rewarding serious piece in which the episodes flow together with some sense of cogency. That said, the ending seemed to happen rather than to need to happen. Back to Dylan Bennett for Seven Seas - a ‘piratey tune’ (words of the composer) rather folksy and full of vitality. Shackleford's River of Our Times includes a rattle. It reflects something of the long history of the Chickasaw nation and picks up on the folk mythos of Three Turtles in the River of Time. It is tender, melodic, tonal. There’s a touch of Kodály here and it has an imaginative ending. Parchcorn's Innocence is another tender folksy piece inspired by the composer's visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and specifically the innocence of the children she met there. Stasen Whitehead wrote Sigur, the Icelandic word for victory. The music has a Philip Glass-like insistence with conflict cutting across the long lines.

A fascinating showcase and something in which the young composers and those behind the project can take some pride.

Rob Barnett





Background notes by the composers.

1. Fantasia
Fantasia is a personal musical exercise in both rhythms and time signatures. It is full of aggressive gestures and large dynamic contrasts with constant and unrelenting movement throughout. The slow section changes into a vaporous and unsettling mood, featuring clustered harmonics and static textures. Joseph Cruise Berry is currently a composition major at Oklahoma City University and studies with Dr. Edward Knight. He is the son of Joe and Candace Berry of Lone Grove, Oklahoma.

2. Here's the Hurt
Here's the Hurt is my composition in remembrance of my dad after losing him to cancer. My piece reflects all of my emotions before during and after my dad passed. Katelyn Duty is a 2009 graduate of Ada High School. She is the daughter of Kathleen Duty and the late David Duty.

3. Yeah...I Hit Like A Girl
After struggling for weeks to find an idea for my then upcoming composition at CSAA, inspiration kicked me in the face, literally! It was the Friday before academy and my sisters and I were at a Chickasaw Nation Martial Arts Demo Team practice. An older brother of three of our members is our official DJ, and while he was experimenting with some new music, the idea jumped into my head: why not create a musical piece about martial arts?!? And so “Yeah… I Hit Like A Girl” was envisioned. From the driving drum beat to the three Ki-ai’s (pronounced kee-EYE), each component portrays the feeling and intensity of a competition Kata. Amanda Shackleford is a homeshcooled high school graduate of Naki Aiulhto Aloota, 2008 (Lexington, OK), and is the oldest daughter of Keith and Mary Shackleford.

4. Holhchifo Ki'yo
When writing Holhchifo Ki’yo, I wasn't really painting an image for myself. I wanted the listener, the audience, to create a picture of their own. But it's hard to paint a picture for yourself when the title gives away what the song is about, or hints towards what you're supposed to get from the song. So I decided not to name my piece. Then I realized that not naming it was NOT an option. So I asked a friend of mine what the Chickasaw word for 'Un-namable' was. I figured putting the title in my Tribe's language would be better than just titling it in English. It still provides the mysterious, ignorant tone for my piece. Dylan Bennett is currently a Junior at Norman North High School (Norman, OK) and is a son to Daniel and Sheri Bennett, and Angelique Colbert.

5. Concerto for Strings
Concerto for Strings was inspired by the type of music I listen to. Soundtracks and music from the late romantic era, for example the Mahler symphonies, are strong influences in this writing. John McAlester will graduate from McAlester High school in May 2010 and is the son of Brent and Shawnda McAlester.

6. Lullaby
Writing Lullaby was an opportunity for me to create something calmer and more serene than my former works. You can’t be angry all the time, so instead of being inspired by hardships in my life, I was inspired by the kindness of people. I wanted this piece to sound as if it were meant to lay someone to a peaceful sleep. Even as I was in the process of writing this piece I felt as if my whole being was suddenly overcome by a feeling of great joy. Lullaby was my way of saying, "I will not give in to sadness. I will be strong and be glad to live in this world." Aubrey Halford is currently attending Ada Jr. High School and is the daughter of Michael Halford.

7. Enough
My song, ENOUGH is played through four strings that represent four directions I sometimes feel I'm being pulled in, all at the same time. Normally I have two or more projects in the works at all times. ENOUGH is exactly how I feel in crunch time. Courtney Parchcorn is a 2008 graduate of Byng High School (Byng, OK) and is the daughter of Buddy and Francine Parchcorn of Ada, OK.

8. Innominate
Innominate was written as an attempt to put some of the underground music that I listen to along with classical music to give it a unique sound. Johnothan Bomboy is from Little Axe, Oklahoma and a sophomore currently attending East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.

9. Solo
Solo is my first composition, and was originally conceived on the guitar. While other compositions may be inspired by outside sources or inspirations, "Solo" is a work that came spontaneously from within. Ryan Lee May is a senior at Classen School of Advanced Studies, where he majors on classical guitar and studies with Matthew Denman.

10. Lucky's Charm
Lucky’s Charm is the product of me just wanting to write a catchy little tune. So that’s what I did. Plain and simple. Johnothan Bomboy is a sophomore attending East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.

11. The Devil's Advocate
Strangely enough, the title of my piece, The Devil’s Advocate, originated in my mind before the melody itself. While composing, I paired energy and intensity with calm sweetness in an effort to depict the wide range of emotions one might feel when in the position of devil’s advocate. The style of my piece also reflects my personal admiration of Celtic fiddle music. Katie Barrick is home schooled and is currently a junior in high school (Calera, Ok). She is the daughter of Roland and Melissa Barrick.

12. Stages
Inspiration for Stages came in many ways, but was derived mainly from different emotions I was experiencing at that time. The different sections, or "stages" in my piece were all different emotions that I expressed in my music. Hardships in my life are overcome by putting the anger aside, and writing it all down to create beauty out of strife. Sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but when I am given grief and sorrow, I make it into music. Aubrey Halford is currently attending Ada Jr. High School and is the daughter of Michael Halford.

13. Seven Seas
The Seven Seas was inspired from a 'piratey' tune that I had written prior to its completion. One day I was trying to figure one song out, then I stumbled upon this melody. When deciding how I wished to further the piece, I came up with the idea of 7 different melodies, all of different origin. Thus, the name The Seven Seas was given to the piece. Dylan Bennett is currently a Junior at Norman North High School (Norman, OK) and is a son to Daniel and Sheri Bennett, and Angelique Colbert.

14. The River of Our Times
The River of Our Times was inspired by a painting my sister Brooke did for a native language contest. The painting, “Loksishto Abawa” (Turtle Rising), depicts three turtles in the river of time. The first turtle is floating on top of the water; it shows the time in history when the Chickasaw language was thriving. The second turtle is all the way at the bottom of the river, depicting the time period when our language was at its most oppressed. The third and final turtle is rising up and represents now, when we as Chickasaw people are revitalizing our language, and thus our culture. Each movement in my piece tries to capture the individual emotions of Brooke’s painting. Amanda Shackleford is a homeschooled high school graduate of Naki Aiulhto Aloota, 2008 (Lexington, OK), and is the oldest daughter of Keith and Mary Shackleford.

15. Innocence
A couple of years ago I helped deliver much needed school supplies to the kids living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. I loved meeting all those kids, who were all so "innocent" of the many daily Indian reservation hardships that are clearly visible there. They were all so gracious towards me and so excited to pick up their schools bags filled with school supplies that I handed out. I SALUTE THEM---INNOCENCE shows the hearts of the Native children I met on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Courtney Parchcorn is a 2008 graduate of Byng High School (Byng, OK) and is the daughter of Buddy and Francine Parchcorn of Ada, OK.

16. Sigur
Sigur is an expression of the various styles of music that I am into. Sigur stands for “victory” in Icelandic. I chose this because, to me, it was a self victory to complete my very first composition. My goal was to intertwine a bright expressive passion, with a dark aggressive feel. I really wanted to capture listeners with the uniqueness of this composition. Stasen Whitehead will be graduating in 2010 from a home school co-op in Atoka, Oklahoma. He is the son of Alan and Ginger Whitehead.

 


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