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Press Release

Release Date: November 01, 2006
by Tony Choate

Jerod Tate, son of Carter County Special District Judge Charles Tate, wrote the musical score for a documentary scheduled to air 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 on local PBS affiliate OETA.

He composed the score for “A Seat at the Drum,” the first program in a two-part documentary exploring many of the issues facing American Indians in rural and urban settings today.

In “A Seat at the Drum,” journalist Mark Anthony Rolo (Bad River Ojibwe) travels to Los Angeles to learn how Native Americans there cope with the pressures of a federal relocation program.

Tate, a classical composer who incorporates his Chickasaw heritage into his compositions, has enjoyed considerable success in his young career. He currently lives in Colorado, but returns to Ada each year to teach composition at the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy.

“Jerod is a very talented composer who is doing a great deal to foster an appreciation for Chickasaw culture in the world of fine arts,” said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “He is also very generous with his time, working with Chickasaw students and other young people to help them develop their own talents.”

In October of this year, Tate played a prominent role in Classical Native, a first of its kind event at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Tate participated in virtually every aspect of the event, which included a series of recitals, chamber concerts, and discussions featuring American Indian classical composers and musicians.

The Sept. 21, 2005 Kennedy Center premier of one of Tate’s compositions entitled “Iholba,” received rave reviews.
“Iholba is the (Chickasaw) word for a vision of something – it’s like an image that you see,” said Tate in an interview prior to the premiere. “To me, it’s called the vision.”

Gail Wein of the Washington Post wrote “Tate is rare as a Native American composer of classical music. Rarer still is his ability to effectively infuse classical music with Native American nationalism.”

Tate came by his musical abilities quite naturally.

His father, Charles, is a classically trained pianist and vocalist, while his mother, Patricia, is a professor of dance and a choreographer.

“My dad was a phenomenal pianist and vocalist,” said Tate. “To this day he still performs vocally, which is really nice. He is the one who got me started on the piano.

“When I was eight years old he got me going and I started taking off and it was really clear to me that I wanted to be a musician.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in piano performance, his career took another turn after his mother commissioned him to compose the music for an original ballet based on American Indian music from the northern plains and Rocky Mountains.

“That just completely blasted open a whole new door for me in composition and I knew right away that I wanted compose and I wanted to compose as an Indian composer,” said Tate. “That was really important to take that specific path.

“I had decided that I wanted everything that I do as a composer to be related to either my tribe or other Indian tribes.”

Tate’s works have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Colorado Ballet, The New Mexico Symphony, the Dale Warland Singers and the Oklahoma City University Wind Philharmonic, to name a few.
He holds commissions from the National Symphony Orchestra; The Joyce Foundation; Christine Bailey, principal flute of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; the American Composers Forum; James VanDemark, double bass faculty for the Eastman School of Music; the New Jersey Chamber Music Society; Native Earth Performing Arts Society and the Dale Warland Singers.

Tate has been commissioned to compose a work for the opening of the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

He is also composer-in-residence at the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Music Apprentice program.