Dedicated to Jean Chaudhuri – Indian Women In Progress – This piece was written for Viola, Flute and Harp Trio. It was composed in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of Columbus Day (or Native American Hospitality Day).
It was premiered in October of 1992 at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Arizona as part of a play called “The Indians Discover Christopher Columbus” by Jean Chaudhuri. She was a Muscogee-Creek Native American story teller, author and activist, who was awarded the Jefferson Award, the Martin Luther King Award and was recently inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013 (I nominated her for the AWHOF Award). Jean is the co-author of “The Sacred Path”. It was Jean’s stories that inspired me to compose “Rebirth of the Goddess”. This trio is intended to be movement V of a larger piece called “Creation Legend”.
“Creation Legend” is a six movement chamber orchestra piece which is a triple concerto for harp, flute and viola. This music composition is based on the Native American legend of creation. The three solo instruments represent various characters and elements in the legend. The harp represents the element of water and the rain goddess. The viola represents the struggle of the crawfish to emerge and the victorious turtle. The flute represents the god of wind who helps the turtle to the surface of the primordial waters (the harp). The flute and viola come together in the Dance of the Lovers. The lovers are “First Man” and “First Woman” in the Creation Legend. The lovers have a quarrel over power and in their neglect of the land the rain goddess dies, the land is stricken with drought and famine. A terrible battle ensues during which the gods are angry and war between the people breaks out ending in thunder and lightening. The Goddess is reborn and she travels over a rainbow, bringing rebirth to the land and the people. First Man and First Woman and all of the people rejoice in the Dance of Life.
The Creation Legend Project has several phases. The first phase is to complete the Trio parts for the soloists. When the Creation Legend Trio is finished, it will be recorded as a chamber music piece. The second phase will be to orchestrate Creation Legend so that it can be performed as a triple concerto with symphonic accompaniment. Creation Legend has six movements in total. The first movement is “Creation” where the first seeds of life stir in the womb of Mother Earth. The crayfish struggles to escape the mud and water, but fails. The second movement is “Turtle Island” in which the great turtle swims to the surface of the water carrying all of the smaller creatures on its back. The third movement is “Dance of the Lovers”. First Man and First Woman meet and fall in love. All is well with the land. Movement Four is “War and Death”. Movement Five is “Rebirth of the Goddess”. Movement Six is “Dance of Life”.
My compositional technique is tonally based. Creation Legend will be in the Southwest Impressionist genre created 70 years ago by American composers Ferde Grofé, Louise Kerr, Grant Fletcher and others. In this style, I will use many of the techniques of Debussy, Fauré and Ravel and fuse them with the Southwestern melodies of various Native American tribes. The Native American drum rhythms will be predominant and the pentatonic five tone scale. I will also make use of quartal harmonies, minor seconds and minor thirds. Dominant sevenths will be used to create tension. Dissonance will be used as a spice. Audience appeal is a priority.
My goal is to bring the Creation Legend to life in music. Music has the ability to reach into the soul and tug at the emotional heart-strings. Creation Legend is a beautiful and powerful story that lends itself to programmatic music. With this work, I hope to create a masterpiece of symphonic 21st century literature.