'To lead with love': Native American classical composer Jerod Tate helps kick off The Symphonia's season
For its 2023-2024 season, The Symphonia picks up where it left off in its last series of concerts.
Last season saw the Boca Raton orchestra's Inspired Naturally series — which had a climate change theme.
This year, The Symphonia's performances will celebrate the natural world. The first concert, titled Native Wonders, will include Chokfi, a piece written by Native American classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate.
Tate's middle name pays tribute to his Chickasaw heritage. "Chickasaw families have house names and clan names," he explains. "My house name, Impichchaachaaha,' means 'high corn crib.' "
Chofki is the Chickasaw word for rabbit, which Tate says is an important trickster legend within Southeast American Indian cultures. The piece was originally commissioned by the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra for young string players between the ages of 12 and 16.
"I had a blast writing this music," he says.
Tate's exposure to the arts began at birth. His Chickasaw father worked as an attorney in Native law, but was also a classically trained pianist and baritone. Tate's mother came from an Irish background and was a dancer and choreographer. Tate says he decided at the age of nine that he wanted to be a classical pianist.
"When I'm composing, I have a very high expectation of myself that what I do has long-lasting value. And is hopefully inspiring to other generations of American Indian artists."Native American classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate
Growing up playing old masters like Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Debussy deepened Tate's appreciation for composers who paid tribute to their people through their music.
"When I'm composing, I have a very high expectation of myself that what I do has long-lasting value," says Tate. "And is hopefully inspiring to other generations of American Indian artists."
Tate views themed concerts like the ones produced by The Symphonia as an opportunity for audiences to really get inside the heads of composers and explore the creative process.
And during this time of political division within the U.S, where heated debates over what it means to be American dominate so many conversations, Tate regards his music-making as a beacon of hope and optimism.
"When I hear difficult discussions, I remind myself that I've been hearing these difficult discussions since I was born," he says.
"In my own composition, what I do is make sure that I stay the course. I love to be very dramatic and lead with love in my music. And that will never change — no matter what is happening around me."
If you go:
Concert I: Native Wonders
Sunday, November 19 | 3:00 PM
Pre-Concert Conversation 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Roberts Theater at Saint Andrew's School
3900 Jog Road
Boca Raton, FL 33434
Handel: Water Music Suite No. 2
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir D’un Lieu Cher
Tate: (Jerod Impichchaachaaha') Chokfi
Copland: Appalachian Spring