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Christopher Tucker: Music Gallery

ANUNKASAN, THE SKY SPIRIT

(for wind symphony)
2006 • Estimated timing: 10'30" • Grade 5
[Published by TMW Press (2008)]
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"During my days at the University of North Texas, James Popejoy and I became good friends. It was made clear that when Jim accepted his first job, after his doctoral work, a commission would be set in motion. A year later, Dr. James Popejoy became the Director of Bands at the University of North Dakota. When I approached the commission, I wanted to somehow incorporate a representation of the state of North Dakota and its surrounding region. I took it a step further and created a work that symbolizes the portrait, the life, the fight, and the strength of the American spirit. The commission premiered under the title Into the Skies. Three years later, I took the best parts, composed new material and reorchestrated sections to realize its final form, Anúnkasan, the Sky Spirit. The final version was officially completed on January 27, 2006.


Anúnkasan is a word from the Lakota dialect of the Sioux Nation meaning "bald eagle." Among the Sioux/Dakota reservations, North Dakota is home to the Devils Lake Sioux Reservation and Standing Rock Reservation. Although the work does not employ specific references to Native American Indian music, the association confirms a strong foundation full of culture, life, and growth.


In a cyclical form, Anúnkasan, the Sky Spirit is a tone poem comprised of four major sections attributed to the American Bald Eagle. (1) Eagle Portrait defines the character of the eagle, strong and majestic. The work opens with the main theme in the English horn and concludes with the main theme in the horns. (2) Eagle in Flight is graceful and affectionate. It captures the essence of elevation as the bald eagle is depicted soaring above the clouds. Beautiful sweeping harmonies accompany long melodic lines with solos by the soprano saxophone and trumpets. (3) Near extinction is my reaction to the decline of the Eagle's population. Bald eagles were hunted and killed heavily between 1917 and 1953 to the brink of extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on July 4, 1976, officially listed the bald eagle as a national endangered species. The music is harsh and violent with the main theme cast in a minor key presented by the woodwinds above rigged, accented interventions by the brass. The bass drum signifies the bald eagle's heartbeat as it slows down to almost nothing. (4) Eagle's Ascent is a rebuilding, a rise out of the ashes of the fallen. Employing a passacaglia created out of the main theme, the music builds and layers with each statement representing the ascent of the eagle with a new sense of awareness and of life. During the summer of 2000, the American Bald Eagle was removed from the Endangered Species and classified as a Threatened Species - a step in the right direction. Also, paralleling America's freedom, Anúnkasan, the Sky Spirit celebrates our victories while preserving the awareness of the struggles and hardships undertaken to maintain that freedom."

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