Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Delivering on promises

Caritas Chorale breathes musical life into Native American history

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Valley's Caritas Chorale and musicians have been tirelessly warming up for this moment when they would debut "Nez Perce: Promises" to a hometown audience, and the time has finally arrived.

This weekend, the chorale will present the lyrical history in two free performances, Saturday, July 14, at 6 p.m. at the Community School gymnasium and then Sunday, July 15, at 6 p.m. at the Community Campus Performing Arts Center in Hailey.

Under the direction of Dick Brown with special guest James Martin and R.L. Rowsey on keyboard, the chorale first gave a select crowd a preview of music from the commissioned piece at the Gail Severn Gallery.

Then, the group, with the chorale and some musician members of the Boise Philharmonic, journeyed to northern Idaho on June 23 to perform for more than 300 people in the tribe's newly finished gymnasium on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, about 11 miles south of Lewiston.

The weekend in Lapwai was packed with sharing of foods, including freshly caught salmon and huckleberry pies, as well as presentations on Nez Perce life then and now and a visit to the Nez Perce National Park Interpretive Center.

The performance is part of what is being called the Nez Perce Project as participants wanted to see this as an educational opportunity for the choir, orchestra and interested supporters.

The Cantata was written by Diane Josephy Peavey of Hailey and Carey, in collaboration with Nez Perce elders, and based on oral and written history. David Alan Earnest, the composer of the eight movements, is a resident of Boise. Josephy Peavey's father, Alvin Josephy, was highly regarded by the Nez Perce for his research and influence during the Nixon administration to change the U.S. government's relationship with the tribes.

This is the second collaboration between Josephy Peavey and Earnest. In 2005 the Caritas Chorale commissioned and performed "Immence (sic) Ranges of High Mountains" commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Caritas Chorale commissioned the pair to create a choral piece that told the story of what happened to the Nez Perce after their encounter with the Lewis and Clark expedition. This is not a sequel, but a continuation of the story that explores the Nez Perce myths, character and connection to the land. Performed by 36 strings, two percussion and the 90-member chorus, it's a lush musical journey.

For more on the story, visit

Keep the promise

When: Saturday, July 14, at 6 p.m. at the Community School gymnasium in Sun Valley.

And again: Sunday, July 15, at 6 p.m. at the Community Campus Performing Arts Center in Hailey.

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