Consortium Commission Proposal
Western Abenaki (a language of the Algonquian family)
Western Abenaki has been preserved by Dr. Gordon Day, who spent 40 years studying the language from the Abenakis of Odanak, near Quebec and the Missisquoi region of the Champlain Valley.
“Windshear” is the inspiration of two emotional evolutions. The first is my walk through the Great North Woods in New England, breathing in the spirit of the vast forest surrounding me in all directions, and coming upon a swath of destruction caused by the natural phenomenon known as a wind shear. The second, concomitant emotional evolution, was my unfolding mindfulness of the profound depth of the American Indian culture, its reverence to the natural elements, and its eventual tragic desolation.
As I was researching the Abenaki culture, the village of Odanak and all the tribes that migrated to Odanak, I was struck by the name of one particular Eastern Abenaki tribe, the Kennebec, of which the Kennebec River is named after. And it dawned on me, how my wife and I have driven over the Kennebec River to travel to a much needed vacation destination, away from the busy-ness of our careers and our lives.
We drive over the river, which is marked by a sign. We glance at it, and then move on.
Some day, when driving on a freeway and passing a river with a long and “foreign” name, I am going to find the nearest off ramp. I am going to search for a state park or federal forest located on the shore of the river. I am going to pay a small fee, park my car and walk up to the lake. I am going to look at the lake from the shore, and not from the freeway, thinking about thousands upon thousands of people who came before me and whose lives were shaped by the river. This river provided nourishment. It provided fellowship with other villages, either by providing a way of transport, or simply a collective gratefulness for its gifts.
The Current Event
American Indians and their water source have been in the news again.
The Standing Rock Reservation, a collective of tribes of the Central Plains have been bravely standing in protest against the construction of a gas pipeline by a company, which would present a clear danger to the water source of their communities. This is not the first time the people of Standing Rock have faced an existential crisis. In the 1960s, many of their towns were submerged under Lake Oehe when the Army Corps forced them to relocate for the construction of the Oahe Dam.
We keep building and growing, advancing in technology – to what end? It would of course be hypocritical of me to not admit I am and my livelihood is a product of technology. I am typing on an Apple computer, using an Evernote application, drinking a Bigelow Green Tea from a Starbuck’s travel mug, sitting in a home built in the 1970s in a village of what was created as vacation bungalows built by a city newspaper company in the 1950s for New Yorkers to get away from the city over the weekends. I also am sitting here today due the medical advances through time that have allowed me to not just exist, but to thrive.
There is a part of me, though, that sees the world as a turbulent energy, cutting through the natural world, leaving it splintered and suffering.
My fear is that we do not notice this anymore. This destructive energy rarely enters our conscious mind. My fear is that we pass by it on the highway of life, unable to recognize the presence of the natural world, despite its immense depth.
And so, I present Windshear.
As I was walking through the northern New England forest called the Great North Woods, I came onto a clearing. It was a vast swath of land completely destroyed. It was shocking. I had observed no signs of this devastation before arriving to this clearing. It was all of a sudden upon me. I looked for signs. Was there a forest fire? No burnt wood. Was this the work of an excavation company? It couldn’t have been, because the ground was still pockmarked with splintered stumps. There were signs of new life springing from the ground, which told me this desolation was not a recent event.
When I returned to the local village, a shopkeeper told me that it was probably the result of a wind shear. A wind shear is a powerful blast of vertical air that occurs in a very small area, usually brought to life by a front moving through or a related weather disturbance.
A New Hope
There is a destructive energy that ravages the senses, leaving us with an impassive heart. If we are open-eyed to our own apathy, we can begin to grieve. And from the recognition of great iniquity, we begin to heal. Our hearts convalesce. Our senses, revived. Our minds are rejuvenated. Our society is rehabilitated.
There is great joy in the discovery of a new hope.
There is an unyielding sense of triumph in the works of people like Dr. Gordon M. Day and his work on the preservation of the Western Abenaki language, or Jessie Little Doe Baird of Massachusetts and her work on the conservation of the Wampanoag language, or the non-violent resistance in support of the defense of the natural resources of the Standing Rock communities.
Sample of Proposed Commission Contract:
Participating Choral Ensembles & Michael Bussewitz-Quarm (MB Arts)
Performance Date: Fall of 2017
Final Performance Score Due: August, 2017
First Draft due: July, 2017
Length of piece: ca. 10-15 mts.
Voicing: SSAATTBB, a cappella
Participating Choral Ensembles have the right to be credited as the commissioner of the work in published editions, recordings, and programs of all future performances, i.e.:
Commissioned by Participating Choral Ensemble, of City, State
Jane Smith, Conductor
Participating Choral Ensembles retain the right to exclusive use of agreed upon commissioned work and exclusive premiere rights in the designated region through December 2017.
Participating Choral Ensembles retain the right to final copy of commissioned work for use in future performances. Number of copies determined by commissioning party.
Participating Choral Ensembles retain the right to make the work’s first commercial recordings for a period of one month beyond the premiere performance.
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm will attend two rehearsals via Skype (or in person if possible) to be scheduled in coordination with Participating Choral Ensembles.
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm will attend the premiere performance of commissioned work by Participating Choral Ensembles during Fall of 2017 (locally, or travel to be coordinated if possible)
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm will be granted permission by Participating Choral Ensembles to use any recording of the performance of Commissioned song for artistic purposes and marketing purposes.
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm owns the commissioned work and all rights to its use under U.S. and/or International Copyright Law. The composer derives income from the licensing fees paid for use of a work in performance, publication, and recording.
In this collaboration, a predetermined number of choral groups pool their resources to commission “Windshear”, with one choral group often heading the organization of the project (with added benefits for this lead group).
P.O. Box 2046
Miller Place, NY 11764
Samples of sketches created during composing retreat in Great North Woods, summer 2015 and, following this, Sound Beach in New York (the preliminary “working” key signature is e-flat minor).