Posts Tagged ‘Wissahickon Scenes’
The newly composed “Wissahickon Scenes” – a piece that blends Lenape tribal melodies with a traditional violin concerto – was showcased this week at a concert by the Philadelphia Classical Symphony.
It will be heard again tomorrow night as part of a larger program in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns, here.
The piece is by Maurice Wright, a Temple University faculty member, and incorporates Lenape field recordings made available to Wright by the American Philosophical Society.
The piece featured the solo work of violinst Hirono Oka.
As Stearns writes:
Native American melodies also have a lot of repeated notes that don’t meld well with Euro-based, goal-oriented functional harmony. Wright’s solution was aesthetic coexistence; it felt fairly natural in our post-postmodern age, while also maintaining a contrast suggestive of the different universe Native Americans inhabited.
The three movements of Wissahickon Scenes had extramusical significance: The first was full of pleasure dances, the second the infamous Trail of Tears along which the defeated tribes were pushed west, and the third embodying the culture’s spirituality.
Fueled by considerable inner impetus, the piece makes a good case for itself, with second and third movements that are particularly entrancing. “Trail of Tears” avoids cliched operatic pathos with a cumulative impact from numbing, plodding rhythms and gray string coloration. In the third movement, Wright gave the violin soloist a traditionally spectacular cadenza, but also incorporated a field recording of a Native American voice on tape in a melody that’s said to be a prayer. Such spirituality is reflected in Wright’s music not with anything typically beatific, but with inner steadiness that no doubt helped the tribe to emotionally survive genocide.
It sounds beautiful.
Tags: American Philosophical Society, buffalo post, Gwen Florio, Hirono Oka, Maurice Wright, Native American news, Philadelphia Classical Symphony, Temple University, Trail of Tears, Wissahickon Scenes