VIEW SCORE (excerpt): UWOHALI(SCORE–PDF)
Uwohali was commissioned by pianist Ewa Plonka for her featured performances in the United States and Israel following her prize-winning performance in the Oklahoma-Israel Exchange International Competition. Ewa asked me for a short, virtuosic piano piece a la Liszt, but one colored by the traditions of America and Oklahoma in particular.
As an Oklahoma Native and part-Cherokee myself, I wanted to write something expressing the imagery of Oklahoma and the Native American traditions still very present in my home state. I began to think of how I might encapsulate these different references with one short solo work, and decided that if the music would fly over the piano as in a Liszt piece, perhaps the idea of flight could play a role in the work. I began to imagine the beginning as a “taking off” and the body of the piece as a great bird, perhaps an eagle, flying freely with power and grace over the Great Plains.
The resulting piece progresses from one lush piano texture to the next, until the great bird comes to a peaceful rest at the end of this exhilarated flight.
“Uwohali” means “Eagle” in Cherokee.