Press Release

Release Date: May 31, 2017

by Gene Lehmann



  • Jerod Tate

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – The world premiere of Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichchachaaha’ Tate’s commissioned “Muscogee Hymn Suite,” will highlight a week of musical entertainment at this year’s OK Mozart International Festival June 8-16.

Tate’s composition was commissioned by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra through a grant provided by the Mid-America Arts Alliance Artistic Innovations Program.

A commissioned Tate oratorio – performed entirely in the Chickasaw language – was premiered by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in autumn 2016.

In 2018, Tate’s music will be performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, thus completing the regional “trifecta” Tate envisioned when he returned to Oklahoma from California.

“These are our big regional orchestras and it feels so good to work with this trifecta of orchestras located around me. They are all very relevant to me,” Tate said. “It is a wonderful and complete feeling (to) compose for them. I wanted my music to have this kind of presence and it is happening. It is so exciting.”

The 29th Annual OK Mozart festival is hosted at various locations in this northeastern Oklahoma community formerly home to Phillips Petroleum Company and its founder, early-day wildcatter Frank Phillips.

The June event marks the third time Tate’s compositions have been featured at the festival.

Each June, the Bartlesville Symphony performs Tate’s “Spider Brings Fire,” a movement contained in the broader composition “Lowak Shoppala’ (Fire and Light).” The work was premiered in Ada at the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center on the East Central University campus. It was sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation.

“I am really fortunate (to) have a continuing presence (in northeastern Oklahoma),” he said.

HELP FROM A FRIEND

“Muscogee Hymn Suite” is music and song – performed in traditional Muscogee Creek language – in three movements. It will be performed at the Marie Foster Performing Arts Hall inside the Bartlesville Community Center. The performance begins at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 11.

The Tulsa Symphony, the Tulsa Children’s Chorus and two solo vocalists will thrill audiences, Tate said.

One soloist is Grant Youngblood, a Lumbee American Indian from North Carolina who is a professional, classically-trained baritone.

The other is Curtis Scott, a Thlopthlocco Creek Indian who resides in Oklahoma City. Scott is a hymn singer and deacon at Salt Creek Baptist Indian Church, located in Wetumka, Oklahoma. He is a traditional baritone.

Scott’s contribution was immense, Tate said, adding the three Muscogee Creek hymns included in the concert were born within an Indian church.

Scott knows them by heart.

“What is really important is there are hymnals in virtually every tribal language. There is a much more common presence than mainstream America is aware of,” Tate said.

“Indian churches are an outstanding and substantial culture throughout Indian Country,” Tate pointed out. “The element consistent about our hymns is they are not written down as music. So, the hymnals are full of words, but melodies are not included as you would find in any kind of Protestant hymnal.”

Scott sang the hymns for Tate. The Chickasaw composer recorded and transcribed them musically.

Something wonderful occurred from these interactions. Tate said during the June 11 performance, Scott will perform them – at designated times – “completely straight up as if he were singing them in church. The orchestra actually suspends a chord while (Scott) comes in with the melody singing it in its purest form,” Tate observed.

“It is almost like (Scott) is the spirit of history that communicates ‘this is how the hymn is performed traditionally,’” Tate said.

“It’s also part of my personal agenda as a composer to incorporate (American Indian) language in everything I do,” Tate recently told the Tulsa World. “I just want to make it a part of the classical music world.”

Tickets for all OK Mozart events are on sale. For more information, phone 918-336-3787 or visit www.bartlesvillecommunitycenter.com to reserve tickets.

Last Updated: 09/16/2016