African Masai in Traditional Dress

Of Earth & Sky 

Tales From the Motherland
 
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Commissioned by the

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Under the baton of Music Director Designate Robert Spano,

the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is set to premiere

Of Earth and Sky: Tales From the Motherland

in Spring of 2023.

 

The 20-minute work is cast in 4 movements, taking the listener into the depths of the African continent through 3 distinct legends and a celebratory finale.

 

Movement I: "Huveane Moves Away from the Humans"

 

The piece opens up with an epic creation story from the Basotho and Bavenda people of Lesotho, Southern Africa. The creator god Huveane created the heavens and the earth, plants, living creatures - including human beings. When living things discovered reproduction, began to fight, amongst other activities, Huveane's creation became for too noisy for him to remain on earth. He then climbed into the sky by driving in pegs that he put his feet on, taking out each peg as he stepped onto the next, so that people would not be able to follow him. He has lived in the sky ever since.   

Movement II: "Anansi"

Anansi is an Akan character who has become famous throughout Africa and many countries in the Caribbean region. He is known for his insight, intelligence, and wisdom. Anansi can change form and may be depicted as a human, although his normal form is a spider. According to the Asante people, Anansi can be a trickster—that is, a personality who teaches moral, ethical, political, or social values based on his ability to lead a person to the truth through example, puzzles, and the least-expected turns and twists of fate.

Movement III: "Nyami Nyami"

The Nyami Nyami, is one of the Tonga people’s most important gods.

Living on the banks of the Zambezi River in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Tonga people (also known as the Batonga) look to the dragon-like creature for protection and provision in difficult times. Reported sightings of the monster in the Zambezi River are not unusual, but for the non-believers, the most convincing proof that the Nyami Nyami may be more than just a legend, was the mysterious disasters that occurred during the construction of Kariba dam wall.

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Movement IV: "Celebration"

Celebration is a joyous finale honoring the jovial energy of the African spirit. Within this celebration, I was especially inspired by the traditional "Bata" dance of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria and the Zaouli dancers of the Guro people of Côte D’Ivoire. I seek to engulf the listener in these sounds of life, spirit, and humanity.

-BRN

Specs

Instrumentation

3-3-3-3, 4-3-3-1, timp. + 3 perc, harp, piano, strings