During a recent trip through Öngtupqa (The Grand Canyon), Clark Tenakhongva and I captured a few of the amazing sounds of this special place, as well as a handful of Tenakhongva’s own songs, in this podcast. We thank the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office for allowing us the opportunity to experience this beautiful and sacred place. Öngtupqa is the inspiration for our new work, to be premiered during Grand Canyon National Park’s Centennial in Summer of 2016. You can catch a preview of selections from the work this summer at the Grand Canyon Music Festival on September 11-12, 2015. Enjoy!
Puhutawi: A New Traditional Hopi Sound
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Sights from Öngtupqa
Here are some of the images to go with the podcast. Enjoy!
Puhutawi is a new genre of Hopi music, taking the power and sophistication of Hopi traditional music and expanding its sonic possibilities via fusion with contemporary chamber music. Traditional Hopi music is known for its profound lyrics, demanding melodic phrases, and enigmatic rhythms. Puhutawi adds the flavorful timbres, diverse textures, and harmonic possibilities of contemporary chamber writing to Hopi traditional composition practices, perpetuating Hopi music’s legacy of captivating–and empowering–its audiences through musical and poetic innovation.
Puhutawi composers Clark Tenakhongva, NAMMY-nominated creator of traditional Hopi ceremonial music, and Trevor Reed, winner of the Vera Hinckley Mayhew new music prize, collaborate in this new concert-length work which pays homage to the Grand Canyon–their ancestral homeland which is now one of America’s most visited National Parks. The piece is based on a series of provocative songs composed by Tenakhongva in Hopi ceremonial style, re-interpreted and developed collaboratively by the two composers for a concert audience, and then orchestrated by Reed. Tenakhongva’s songs entice the audience to listen to the environmental and spiritual forces that bring life and motion to the Grand Canyon, while Reed’s orchestrations recreate the feel and imagery of Tenakhongva’s songs in a way that makes them impactful for both Hopi and non-Hopi audiences.
The work will be performed by Tenakhongva and a team of Hopi youth-apprentices, who weave their voices into the dynamic sonic imagery created by two string quartets. Throughout the piece, the audience will experience the rhythmic transformations created by traditional Hopi body-instruments worn by the singers (sea-shells, bells, gourd rattles, etc.), which push and pull the listener into and out of the unique time and space Tenakhongva poetically creates in his evocative texts.
A collaborative workshop for the piece will take place in August 2014 on the Hopi Reservation with the critically acclaimed String-Band ETHEL and the Sphinx Organization’s Catalyst Quartet. The September 2015 premiere will take place at the Shrine of the Ages, located on Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim, as part of the annual Grand Canyon Music Festival. Video and audio of the two performances will be recorded by Canyon Records for later distribution. The two composers will also be featured artists-in-residence for the Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Project, which affords Hopi and Navajo high school students the opportunity to learn from professional mentor composers and chamber ensembles as they create their own new musical works, which are performed each year on a special Festival-sponsored concert.
Composer Clark Tenakhongva performs two traditional songs, “Prophecy” and “Kwakwah, Itaana (Thank You, Fathers),”at the Mesa Verde ruins. Like the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde is also an important ancestral site for the Hopi people, and Tenakhongva’s songs provide a vibrant link connecting contemporary and ancient Pueblo peoples.
The ballet The Plaza of the Ancient Village depicts scenes from a traditional Hopi story. The piece illustrates the variety of ways Reed develops Hopi cultural themes, environmental sounds and musical styles using orchestral instrumentation. Performed by the Brigham Young University Philharmonic Orchestra.
Start and End Dates
12/01/2013 — 09/12/2015
Grand Canyon, Arizona