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I'hare (choral score)

By Elizabeth Alexander

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Mixed Chorus (SATB chorus and orchestra: 1111, 1100, percussion, timpani, piano, strings) - Moderately Advanced
Composed by Elizabeth Alexander. Collegiate Repertoire, Community Chorus, Concert Music. Native American, Gratitude, Secular, Choral. Choral score. With Text language: English. Duration 12 minutes. Published by Seafarer Press (SF.SEA-074-01).

Item Number: SF.SEA-074-01

Text from a Pawnee text, adapted.

The Pawnee invocation "I'hare!" calls the community into a place of awareness and reverence. This vivid and atmospheric work, modeled after the ancient Hako ceremony, honors those sacred Powers which give and sustain life.

Commissioned by Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Kevin Badanes, conductor (Durham, NC) Commissioned to welcome the fellowship's new minister
Composer's Note: In the words of Pawnee leader Tahir'ssawichi: "I'hare is an exclamation, as when one suddenly remembers something of which he has been unmindful, because other things demanded his attention. The mind having been recalled to the subject, now appreciates its importance, gives it complete attention, and becomes absorbed by it. The word means: I remember, I perceive, I give heed." A close relative of the more familiar "Heya" and "Heyo," "I'hare!" is the utterance used in the Pawnee ceremony of the Hako, which honors everything which gives and sustains life. In the opening part of the Hako, the Invocation of the Powers, everyone present is called upon to consider each specific sustaining Power, by listening deeply to its ceremonial naming. During this time, the word "I'hare!" is uttered repeatedly, calling upon all to enter a state of acute awareness and reverence. "I'hare!" was commissioned in 2006 by Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, a project which required that I set a particular Native American prayer to music. While researching the source of this prayer, I discovered not only its source, but also its considerable inaccuracy. Using Alice Fletcher's painstakingly detailed documentation of the Hako, I rewrote the text, restoring the original order of the Powers, austerity of language, and clarity of form. I chose to retain the Pawnee word "I'hare!"; along with the English approximations "remember," "consider," "revere," and "hold in our hearts." "I'hare!" does not attempt to recreate a Native American musical or religious experience. Just as the classical chorus and orchestra are my own culture's instruments, and the musical language is from my own artistic background, so I am sure that my own spiritual lens is hopelessly Western. What I have attempted to do is create a space in which wonder, remembrance, stillness and gratitude can exist, a space made sacred not by a chanted "Om" or a traditional "Alleluia," but by a word just as holy and powerful: "I'hare!".

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