The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky for Soprano, Violin, and Piano
I. And Musing Awhile
II. Ojibwe Prayer
III. The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky
IV. Trail of Tears
Jane Johnston Schoolcraft was the first known Native American poet and the first known Native American woman writer. Her husband published her poems and stories. Her writings and poems in English paralleled those of Anglo-American and British writers such as William Wordsworth and Lydia Sigourney. The name of the cycle is taken from Schoolcraft’s Indian name, Bame-wa-wa-ge-zhik-a-quay, which translates as “Woman of the Sound that Stars Make Rushing through the Sky.”
I. And Musing Awhile is an excerpt taken from Schoolcraft’s poem, “Pensive Hours.” The last line of the poem is “So pensively joyful, so humbly sublime.” Searching and yearning motives with imitation among the strings, woodwinds, and brass circle around with percussive chordal punctuation. Orchestral colors portray the musings and whispers, the glistening stream, and the murmurings of kind voices.
II. Ojibwe Prayer – Author unknown, music by Harbach.
Harbach’s setting, for soprano, violin, and piano, sets in music the wind of the Great Spirit, the weakness of the many children, the beauty of the sunsets and the many things that the Spirit has made. The prayer asks for wisdom from the lessons that come from earthly beauty, so when life fades, we come to you.
III. The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky – lyrics and music by Harbach
Virtuosity and lyricism comingle to musically portray the many aspects of Schoolcraft’s life.
A woman –
Ojibwe and French-Canadian,
American, Irish, and English.
Eloquent, lyrical, emotion stirring.
IV. Trail of Tears – lyrics and music by Harbach.
Evicted from their Southeastern homelands by the federal government in the 1830s, native Americans were sent on forced marches to eastern Oklahoma that became known as the Trail of Tears and ordeal of disease, starvation, and death. Many meter changes, dramatic dynamics, use of the entire instrumental colors, imitation, and the entire story is told through a child’s eyes.