Monday, March 30, 2009

May Concert - Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio.

On Saturday, 2 May 2009
Salt Lake Choral Artists present
"Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio"
at 7:30 pm
Libby Gardner Concert Hall
Tickets - $15 (give or take a few dollars... I can't remember)

Since before our last concert in February, we (The Salt Lake Choral Artists) have been rigorously preparing for our final concert of the 2008-2009 season. We will be performing a new oratorio by Mark Grey, with lyrics by Navajo poet Laura Tohe. It's an incredibly challenging piece of music, but is really beginning to take life with our group, and I'm liking it more and more. Mark Grey, the composer, is coming to work with us during four rehearsals the week of the concert. That's exciting! I have the feeling this is going to be an exceptional experience. If any of you would like to come and want tickets, let me know! You won't want to miss this one.

From our website:

A fight for freedom. The torment of survivor’s guilt. The power of words. To live, one must slay the enemy within, and walk the path of beauty. Based on texts written by native Navajo poet and professor Laura Tohe and the sound designs of composer Mark Grey, this oratorio presents a story of urgent importance, one whose palette begins within the Navajo epic of creation but quickly broadens to reach across cultures and centuries, encompassing all of humanity. Commissioned and performed by the Phoenix Symphony for the first time in February 2008, SLCA now brings to Salt Lake City its universal message which concludes with humanity’s hopeful plea: “Let Peace Prevail.”


The first-ever oratorio to be based on an indigenous creation story, “Enemy Slayer” casts the story of a battle-fatigued young Arizona native (Seeker) who returns to his people from a desert war, where a cousin died in his arms. “Your blood poured brightly through my hands like a lamb being slaughtered,” I could not stop it!” sings the baritone soloist. As Seeker crumbles from survivor’s guilt, the choir, representing his mother, his ancestors and the Holy Ones respond “You were born for a reason. You are a miracle brought to live, given breath… return to the Beauty Way”. His emotional torture and healing are underscored by the instruments of the orchestra and Seeker makes a choice “I take myself back. I emerge from the belly of my mother’s beauty.’

Commissioned by the Phoenix Symphony to celebrate their 60th anniversary, “Enemy Slayer” premiered on February 7, 2008 to a sold-out audience and a 10 minute standing ovation. The performance marked the culmination of nearly two years of work by composer Mark Grey, who recruited award-winning Navajo poet Laura Tohe to write the libretto. The oratorio was also performed to sold-out audiences at the Colorado Music Festival July 24-25, 2008.

The 70-minute piece features a large chorus, full symphony orchestra, baritone soloist and the Southwest landscape photography of Deborah O’Grady that conveys the majesty of Seeker’s homeland and projected on a screen as the story progresses.

This monumental work is now brought to Salt Lake City for the first time under the direction of Dr. Brady Allred. The performance features baritone soloist Gary Sorensen, the Salt Lake Choral Artists, Salt Lake Choral Artists Symphony all expressing the compelling universal message of the oratorio, which concludes with humanity’s hopeful plea: “Let Peace Prevail."


Anonymous said...

Hello eclaires. Just wanted to let you know about the recording that was made of "Enemy Slayer" with Michael Christie and the Phoenix Symphony, Scott Hendricks, baritone. If your readers want to check the work out before going to your concert they can buy it on Amazon. The release is on Naxos and the release number is 8.559604. It is a wonderful work well deserving of many performances. I am happy your choral group is performing it. I was the Producer of the recording and worked with Mark Grey and Scott Hendricks who are both wonderful artists. I hope you enjoy your time with them and "Enemy Slayer" as much as I did.
Thom Moore

Anonymous said...

Mark Grey's "Enemy Slayer" with Michael Christie, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and Scott Hendricks was just named one of the top classical releases of the first quarter 2009 by Check it out and read more about the work.
Thom Moore

eclaires said...

Wow, Thom! Thanks for all the info and for stopping by on my blog. I'm really looking forward to our concert in a couple of weeks. I think "Enemy Slayer" is an incredible work! Glad to hear other out there who agree.