Klamath Tribes Participate in World Premiere at the Crater Lake Centennial Celebration- Music Natural History

Klamath Tribal Council Front Row Seated: RoseMary Treetop, Jeannie McNair, Don Gentry, Gail Ochoa, and Devery Saluskin.

Klamath Tribal Council Front Row Seated: RoseMary Treetop, Jeannie McNair, Don Gentry, Gail Ochoa, and Devery Saluskin. Back Row: Taylor Tupper- Klamath Tribes Public Relations; Gilbert Jackson- Steiger Butte Singers, Bill Jackson Sr.- Steiger Butte Singers, Joyce Jackson- Steiger Butte Singers, Lil Bill Jackson Jr- Steiger Butte Singers, Joel Jackson- Steiger Butte Singers, Jackie Jackson- Steiger Butte Singers, Byron Jackson (Steiger Butte- not pictured here), and George Lopez- Klamath Tribes Administration General Manager.

Klamath Tribal Council Members participated in the opening ceremonies and brought honor to the event, our ancestors, and future Generations.

News information by: LEE JUILLERAT For the Herald and News
Photos and other information by: Taylor Tupper and Klamath Tribes News Dept.

When a highly anticipated original musical composition about Crater Lake, “Natural History,” debuted this past Friday and Saturday, the Steiger Butte Singers, and members of the Klamath Tribal Council, played a prominent role.

The world premiere was held Friday, July 29th, 2016 at The Watchman Overlook along Rim Drive and five other performances was held this past weekend at Picnic Hill near the Rim Village at Crater Lake National Park.

The performances featured 10 members of the Steiger Butte singers and drummers, about 40 members of the Britt Orchestra, 30 brass and percussion students from Southern Oregon University and a 70-voice regional choir. Michael Gordon, the New York City based composer, met with Steiger Butte members and the Klamath Tribes last year, to learn more about drumming, the Klamath Tribes, and the cultural significance of giiwas- Crater Lake.

This has been in the works for almost two years,” said Taylor Tupper, Klamath Tribes Public Relations Manager, “When Mark Knippel, from the Britt Orchestra contacted the Klamath Tribes about a ceremony and opportunity to be part of the music being created specifically for Crater Lake, our original homelands, of course we said yes.” She added, “It is our responsibility to share our knowledge and information about this place that was once our homeland. If we don’t share who we are and our history, future generations will not know.”

Jackie Wilson and Taylor Tupper, members of the Steiger Butte Singers, said they was honored and excited to be part of the performance.
“I was thinking about it all the time. So excited,” said Jackson-Wilson.

Caretakers of giiwas

“This is where we were created and we were the original caretakers of giiwas,” Tupper said, referring to Klamath Indian creation legends and name for Crater Lake, which translates in Klamath to “spiritual place.” “We feel it is not only appropriate but mandatory the Tribes participated in the ceremonies.”

The group’s name, Steiger Butte, originates from a vision quest site west of Chiloquin traditionally used by tribal people. The Steiger Butte Drum, which has been in existence since the 1950s, is a family group that travels the United States and the Pacific Northwest. Now in their third generation of singers, Steiger Butte includes fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. Tupper describes Steiger Butte as a Northern style pow wow drum and notes the group has previously performed at the Britt Festival and for the “Crater Lake — Mirror of Heaven,” documentary.

“It’s second nature to them,” Tupper, a member of the group, said of Steiger Butte. “They are a professional group and have hosted so many performances that it’s second nature to them. Some families are blessed to be hunters, some families are blessed to be gatherers. There’s not a Jackson that can’t sing or drum.

Steiger Butte Singers pictured here with Composer Michael Gordon and Music Director, Teddy Abrams.

Steiger Butte Singers pictured here with Composer Michael Gordon and Music Director, Teddy Abrams.

 

‘Spatial work’

Group members expected to learn more about the piece during rehearsals that began last Wednesday.

“Natural History is designed to be an experiential, spatial work,” Gordon said of his composition, which runs about 30 minutes. He noted his musical work draws on the existing landscape and ancient lake, explaining, “The idea is to draw out the natural sounds in and around Crater Lake and connect the natural sonic environment to the orchestra.”

Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman said “Natural History” fulfills a goal for celebrating the National Park Service’s Centennial.

“We have been searching for innovative and unique opportunities with which to showcase Crater Lake for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service,” Ackerman said. “The Britt performances do all that and more. A place-based musical composition will connect the spectacular scenery and resources of the lake with a cultural and artistic heritage that stretches beyond the founding of the park. The performances will attract national recognition for the park, the Rogue Valley and all of Southern Oregon.”

“For this collaboration, we want to create a work of musical art that truly binds the natural environment and topography of Crater Lake with a musical landscape and experience,” said Britt Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams. “It’s important to us that this work feels deeply connected to the environment, instead of us simply presenting music in a beautiful place.”

The performances were free, but regular park admission fees applied. Enrolled Klamath Tribal members, however, have free entry to the park anytime they present Klamath Tribal identification cards at the park’s entrance station.

Below is a small group of photos over the weekend. More information can be found on:

Britt Orchestra “Natural History” performance Crater Lake: www.heraldandnews.com

One final performance of the piece is scheduled at the Britt Festival on August 20, 2016.

Tickets can be purchased at: http://www.brittfest.org/performances

Practices began on Thursday at Union Creek. No one had met or played the music together as a group prior. World Premiere was held the next day on Friday. Everyone's professionalism and spirit was evident at the first practice.

Practices began on Thursday at Union Creek. No one had met or played the music
together as a group prior. World Premiere was held the next day on Friday.
Everyone’s professionalism and spirit was evident at the first practice.

Steiger Butte and the Choir are in place for the first World Premier at Watchman Overlook

Steiger Butte and the Choir are in place for the first World Premier at Watchman Overlook

Members of the Orchestra come from all around the Nation… Ohio, Texas, New York, etc

Members of the Orchestra come from all around the Nation… Ohio, Texas, New York, etc

Chairman Don Gentry and Congressman Walden take a moment before the production to visit about the centennial event.

Chairman Don Gentry and Congressman Walden take a moment before
the production to visit about the centennial event.

Visitors from all over the World come early to get good seats for the opening

Visitors from all over the World come early to get good seats for the opening

Teddy Abrams, Don Gentry, and Michael Gordon. Blessed to be here on this special day.

Teddy Abrams, Don Gentry, and Michael Gordon. Blessed to be here on this special day.

News from all around the nation and NW was on site.

News from all around the nation and NW was on site.

The documentary film crew on site with Teddy and Michael- Rim of giiwas- Crater Lake

The documentary film crew on site with Teddy and Michael- Rim of giiwas- Crater Lake

Ida (Black Hat) is from Cleveland, Ohio and has been playing in the Britt for over 25 years. Her first trip was the long drive to Ashland, Oregon, where she drove with her twin daughters, who were only one, and her three year old son. But she says this experience to play music at the place that was such a holy/spiritual place, with the ancestors watching, was an experience of a lifetime.

Ida (Black Hat) is from Cleveland, Ohio and has been playing in the Britt for over 25 years.
Her first trip was the long drive to Ashland, Oregon, where she drove with her twin daughters, who
were only one, and her three year old son. But she says this experience to play music at the place
that was such a holy/spiritual place, with the ancestors watching, was an experience of a lifetime.

Teddy Abrams doing what he does best… Conducting the Music.

Teddy Abrams doing what he does best… Conducting the Music.

And not even the Bybee Fire at Crater Lake over the weekend could stop the Music.

And not even the Bybee Fire at Crater Lake over the weekend could stop the Music.

Teddy and Michael. Special thank you for bringing it all together. Special Thanks also to Mark Knippel of the Britt for making it happen.

Teddy and Michael. Special thank you for bringing it all together.
Special Thanks also to Mark Knippel of the Britt for making it happen.

 

Ms. Taylor R. Tupper
Klamath Tribes Public Information/News Dept.
Tribal Administration Office
501 Chiloquin Blvd, Chiloquin, Oregon 97624
email: taylor.tupper@klamathtribes.com
Phone: 541-783-2219 ext. 147

 

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