entire Symphony Orchestra, Stewart's Point Kashia Pomo Dancers
and singers on stage.
Oakland, CA The massive, world-wide protest's over the
Dakota Access pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's legal
response to gather the support of over 350 American Indian tribes
in Indian Country and over 2,000 U.S. military veterans was the
reason the Oakland Symphony chose to present "Notes from Native
"The 'Notes From' series is designed to welcome diverse elements
of the community into the symphony family. This year I chose the
Native American community because it is vast and little known by
most. I felt the time was right to change this", said Maestro Michael
Morgan, director of the symphony.
of SuNuNu Shinal traditional singers with clappers singing
the water basket song in honor of Standing Rock.
"I wanted to learn more about our Native American people that
have taken the most care of the land we all live on, yet we have
been so disrespectful of for centuries. This is our way of thanking
them and continuing to learn more", explained composer John Christopher
Local community organization Intertribal Friendship House, directed
by Carol Wahpepah and the youth council collaborated with the symphony
by providing projected images of several flags representing tribal
nations, and setting up tables where youth informed and invited
the public to their numerous local events. The Big Sur Land Trust
also provided an informational booth explaining the work they have
done and continue to do to insure coastal land remains in trust
along the Monterrey County coastline.
The program began with a presentation by the SuNuNu Shinal (Huckelberry
Heights) Pomo Dancers and singers. This group is composed of Kashia
Pomo and Coast Miwok dancers and singers from ages 9 to 64, who
have been performing cultural songs and dances all their lives.
The tribe is based at Stewart's Point, California.
Campobello, traditional cedar bird flute soloist, Kanyon Sayers-Roods,
traditional Costanoan Ohlone/Chumash singer soloist.
"We chose to present our sacred water basket dance as a tribute
to those at Standing Rock. This is how we teach our children language,
culture, tradition, and who they are in this world," explained Billy
Rene Pinola, singer/dance teacher of the group. SuNuNu Shinal has
traveled throughout California as well as European countries performing
and explaining traditional California Indian culture and tradition.
Noted Chickasaw composer/musician Jerod Tate presented part
of a larger epic piece entitled "Lowak Shoppala' or Fire and Light"
part VII Hymn and part IV Clans Libretto.Tate is a citizen of the
Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, and is a 2011 Emmy Award winner, along
with other awards and commissions too numerous to mention. He was
appointed Creativity Ambassador for the state of Oklahoma in 2008.
Tate is dedicated to the development of American Indian classical
composition to tell the history and share the culture of the Chickasaw
Nation. "Lowak Shoppala' or Fire and Light expresses Chickasaw identity
through modern classical music and theater. "Hymn VII" is a dramatic/operatic
homage to Southeast Indian hymns sung in Indian churches. The Chocktaw
hymn presented was composed during the Removal into Oklahoma, and
members of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, directed by Lynne Morrow,
sang the vocal score in its' traditional language.
Linda Hogan, noted Chickasaw poet, writer, play write, academic,
environmentalist, who is now the Chickasaw Nation's writer-in-residence,
wrote the script for the piece, "Clans". In Chickasaw culture, a
family clan system was maintained through matrilineal descent. The
piece presented focused on seven of the family lines, with projections
on a large screen in the Chickasaw language. Those presented were
Chief, Bird, Alligator, Squirrel, Skunk, Panther, Raccoon, and circled
back to Minko or Chief. Linda Hogan's writing is poetic, metaphoric,
and infused with the natural world.
Campobello playing flute during "Big Sur: The Night Sun"
The introduction said, "we have all been given the fire. Let
us burn our way into the world, let it light our dreams. It will
take us beautiful and grace-filled through the future, the ones
our grandmothers and grandfathers dreamed for us as they journeyed,
as they carried us inside them in the time before ours". Minko or
Chief began, "I stand in the green world, it's strands woven in
all our breaths, the delicate, the strong
we are beautiful
people, look how we make a path for those we care for, light a fire,
sweep the path between us, human, all my people it is time for the
story of a night of telling, the word another seed". The musical
score was composed in minor keys with chorus and narration flowing
together perfectly. Narration was performed by Vincent Medina, Chochenyo
Ohlone, who spent many years of research and linguistic study to
re-learn and teach his native language to others. Medina serves
on numerous boards in the East Bay and is a Curator at Mission Dolores
in San Francisco. He also serves as a radio host on KPFA's Bay Native
Composer John Christopher Wineglass created a tone poem entitled,
"Big Sur: The Night Sun", while in residence at Glen Deven Ranch
and Pfeiffer Beach. The Ohlone refer to the moon as the night sun.
The piece is written in four movements, "Mystery of the Night Sun",
"Rushing Waters", "Pfeiffer Beach-A Secret Revealed" and "The Return".
Wineglass is a recipient of three daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding
Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series,
and three ASCAP Film and Television Awards. He also holds seven
"After spending time on the land, I felt that something was
missing. I was haunted by the land, and needed to meet some of the
original people who lived their lives in such magnificent areas.
When introduced to traditional singer/artist Kanyon Sayers-Roods
(Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash) I knew the piece would integrate
improvisation into a classical mode, as well as traditional Native
language and style of song. I really wanted to shake things up,
by stretching classical music. I knew the Oakland Symphony would
be open to new areas of music and sound" explained Wineglass. The
piece began with Kanyon Sayers-Roods vocalizing the sounds of eagle,
hawk, crow, fox, and coyote while cedar bird flute player Emilio
Campobello played flute. Sayers-Roods improvised sounds of morning
and evening with clapper stick and rattles, then sang the Grandmother
Song in her language. She is the daughter of Ann Marie Sayers, and
was raised in Indian Canyon, CA, trust land of her family. She speaks
her language and holds traditional knowledge as well as holding
a B.S. in web design. Cedar bird flute soloist Emiliano Campobello
is a recording artist whose recordings were nominated for several
Native American Music Awards and he received the Silver Arrow Award
for his contributions to the Native American Music industry.
The two drums talking at the beginning of the piece were performed
by noted percussionist Marci Chapa, who performed with Beyonce,
Alicia Keys, Jay Z, Jill Scott, the late Al Jarreau, among many
others. Her television credits range from "The Late Show" to "The
Oprah Winfrey Show" and she has graced award stages that include
the Grammy's and Billboard Music Awards.
Jayon Fann, is a multi-instrumentalist, percussionist, and drummer
who has music and television credits too numerous to mention. For
the piece "Big Sur: The Night Sun, Mr. Fann constructed a seven-foot
tall drum made from a fallen redwood tree. It's visual presentation
and sound were breathtaking. Fann has toured and performed worldwide
to over thirty countries in the last four years.
"Notes from Native America" was an exceptionally creative, lyrical
and beautiful tribute to the many tribal nations who stood and still
stand with Standing Rock. Not only was it a sold-out event, but
it generated pride in local Native American community and showcased
the accomplishments and creative talents of American Indian people.