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(Many Paths)
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Chickasaw Student Composers Work Featured On New CD
by Dana Lance - Chickasaw Nation

ETHEL Recording OSHTALI- Featuring the Works Of Young Chickasaw Composers is now available on Thunderbird Records

ADA, Okla. - Recognized as the first album in history with solely works by American Indian student-composers, OSHTALI ("divide into four parts"), is the latest CD to feature the Grammy-nominated string quartet, ETHEL.

This 16-song collection showcases the contemporary classical music of students of the Chickasaw Nation Summer Arts Academy of Ada, Okla. Recently released, OSHTALI is sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation and is part of ongoing groundbreaking initiatives created by the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities.

Alan Bise, Producer/Owner of Thunderbird Records and Co-Producer of OSHTALI, first heard the students' works a few years ago and decided they would make an intriguing project. "These student works captured my attention by both their complexity and their simplicity. These student compositions are surprisingly sophisticated, and they bring a heritage and point of view to the music unlike anything we are accustomed to hearing. I'm excited to be part of this tribute to both the past and the future of the Chickasaw Nation," says Bise. Also, in conjunction with the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities, Thunderbird Records held an artwork contest to help determine the album's cover image which resulted in the winning painting by Mercedes Milligan.

The 11 students, ages 13 to 21, studied music composition at the Chickasaw's Summer Arts Academy in 2008 and '09, under the tutelage of Chickasaw composer-in-residence, Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate. "It's a life-changing experience because two years ago, they wrote their first piece ever," explains Tate. "And now they're releasing an album of their works into the classical world."

During the recording session at Oklahoma City University's Wanda L. Bass School of Music earlier this year, the student-composers participated in all aspects of the album recording from start to finish.

According to 13-year old Aubrey Halford, having ETHEL record her compositions, entitled Stages and Lullaby, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "It was a great experience to get to work with a group of such prestige."

ETHEL is dedicated to playing contemporary music and has worked with young American Indian composers before.

"We've been so enriched by the people, cultures, and sounds of the Chickasaw Nation that we feel utterly compelled to share them through music," says Ralph Farris, violist for ETHEL.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said "we are extremely pleased to be part of this innovative project. These students are incredibly talented and they should be very proud of what they have accomplished," said Gov. Anoatubby.

"Our goal was to inspire these students to pursue their dreams. Now, as they share their music with the world, they are sure to inspire others."

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About the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy
The Chickasaw Nation is the only tribe in the United States that sponsors its own fine arts academy. Chickasaw and American Indian students, ages 8-19, major in Art, Dance, Literature, Music Composition, Theatre and Video Production, culminating in a grand public performance at the end of the academy. On the recommendation of Jerod Tate, Governor Bill Anoatubby approved the student composition recording project, and the tribe has further invited ETHEL to be the first American modern classical ensemble to perform at their inaugural Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival in 2011.

Acclaimed as America's premier postclassical string quartet, ETHEL boldly infuses contemporary concert music with fierce intensity, questioning the boundaries between performer and audience, tradition and technology. Formed in 1998, New York's ebullient ETHEL is comprised of Julliard-trained performers: Cornelius Dufallo (violin), Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Mary Rowell (violin). ETHEL performs adventurous music of the past four decades including repertoire by Julia Wolfe, Phil Kline, David Lang, John Zorn, Steve Reich, JacobTV, Scott Johnson, Don Byron, Marcelo Zarvos, Evan Ziporyn, and Mary Ellen Childs. ETHEL's latest recording, Light (Cantaloupe Records), was selected as #3 on's "Best of 2006: Top Classical Editor's Picks."

About Thunderbird Records
Thunderbird Records is dedicated to capturing and preserving the music of contemporary American Indians for distribution across the world. All Thunderbird releases include music by Indian composers or performances by Indian musicians. It strives for the highest artistic integrity as well as exceptional sonic quality in order to provide an outstanding listening experience. For more information, please visit

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