By JESSE BERTEL
Across the Street
The Prescott Chorale’s new concert explores the music that evolved from the experiences of two marginalized groups in America, Indigenous Native Americans and African Americans, in “Wind, Fire, Rain – The Soul of American Music.” The performance starts with a pre-concert talk by Artistic Director Dennis Houser 30 minutes prior to the performance, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at St. Luke’s Episcopal, 2000 Shepherds Ln., Prescott.
From the composers’ souls to the concert stage, the music of these people filled with their heritage and life experiences will be brought to the audience through the beautiful voices of the Chorale singers.
Special guest, Michael Goodluck of the Navajo Nation, will perform a special flute solo on an instrument that he crafted.
“I believe that it’s the vibration of the sound that calls you to the flute,” Goodluck said. “When you learn to construct the flute itself, you understand the meaning of what it’s meant to do. It’s supposed to just open doorways for people to express themselves in time or grieving, or in time of loss, or even in times of joy.”
Houser explained that the first part of the concert, “Wind,” features the music of and about the Indigenous people – their culture, their beliefs and their struggles – focusing on how their history is brought to life through music.
“Almost every belief that the Native Americans had comes from the land, from nature, from the earth, from the water, from the sky and from the air, the trees and all of those physical parts of their belief system are personified in the music that we’re going to be preserving,” Houser said. “It’s not a traditional chord structure like you would hear in gospel music or in rock and roll music. It is totally unique to itself and often it’s very hauntingly beautiful music that comes because of the way the melodies are written.”
The second part, “Fire,” brings to the concert stage the music of Spirituals. The Chorale will sing 4 spirituals written by Black composers.
“The African-American community endured different levels and different types of challenges to their existence because of slavery,” Houser said. “They had to have a fire in the belly to survive it, to come out of it, and to come out of it with a beautiful set of music called spirituals.”
The third part, “Rain,” brings to light how essential the natural element of rain is in musical settings.
“Rain brings back the first element of the Native Americans,” Houser said. “They have to have rain to survive. They have to be able to drink. They have to be able to raise their crops. Without rain, they have none of those things. So, rain becomes a pivotal element related to the Native Americans and we are doing three pieces of music that are totally about rain and water.”
The fourth part is “The Soul of American Music.” This section will showcase the writing of 2 American composers. The First is from an Opera “The Tender Land,” by Aaron Copland. It talks entirely about the value of working the land together. The concert will close with a time-proven patriotic work, The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Wilhousky.
For more information about the Prescott Chorale and to purchase tickets, visit prescottchorale.com/concerts.
fJesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.