Mystique of the Northern Plains

for Native American Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello

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  • Commissioned by/written for
    James Pellerite
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  • Year revised
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I began working on Mystique of the Northern Plains on August 20, 2012 and completed it on the 24th of the same month. I had to compose with my usual speed, due to the fact that the performers had scheduled the premiere on October 7, 2012. The work was written for James Pellerite, who took up the Native American flute upon his retirement from a lifelong career as performer and teacher on the traditional C flute of Western music. Pellerite has been responsible for inspiring and commissioning more new works for the Native American (or Northern Plains) flute than likely anyone else. My approach was not to attempt to mimic the music of the Native Americans, whose instrument is utilized in this work, but to evoke the sounds of the plains on which they lived. The imaginative listener might hear the howling of coyotes on the wind-swept plains, or the celebratory dancing of the tribe following a successful hunt. My main focus, however, was to simply write a work that would show off the skills of the dedicatee, and be fun to play and to listen to. Overt tonality is co-mingled with sonorities that verge on the atonal, and the piece requires two Native flutes in the keys of G and B. The work was edited by James Pellerite.

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