Classic 107.3 GM and CEO John Nasukaluk Clare spoke with composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate about his work, Lowak Shoppala’ (Fire and Light), now out on Azica Records.

Lowak Shoppala’ expresses Chickasaw identity through the medium of modern classical music and theatre through eight scenes and features orchestra, narration of a libretto by Chickasaw poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Linda Hogan, children’s chorus, traditional Chickasaw and classical vocal soloists, and Chickasaw storytellers. Each scene (Fire and Light, Double Header, Shell Shaker, Clans, Removal, Spider Brings Fire, Hymn, Double Header & Finale) depicts a part of Chickasaw culture and history and is sung in Chickasaw.

The recording, conducted by Mr. Tate, features the Chickasaw Nation Children’s Chorus and Nashville String Machine, an ensemble made up of musicians from the Nashville Symphony, and soloists including narrators Richard Ray Whitman, Lynn Moroney, and Wes Studi (Dances with Wolves); baritone Stephen Clark; and sopranos Chelsea Owen and Meghan Vera Starling.

Born in Oklahoma, Mr. Tate lives under dual citizenship – United States and Chickasaw. His father is a Chickasaw lawyer and tribal judge who authored the current tribal constitution and his mother is of Manx descent originally from Nebraska. In addition to being an active leader of American Indian law and politics, Mr. Tate’s father is a classically trained pianist and baritone and his mother was a professional choreographer and dancer, leading to Mr. Tate’s immersion into American dance, musical theater, and opera. Like his classical composer role models such as Claude Debussy (France), Bela Bartók (Hungary), and Igor Stravinsky (Russia), Mr. Tate strongly identifies with his culture and imbues it into all of his compositions.