ADA, Okla. – There is still a chance to be a part of the history-making inaugural Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival, where both serious students of classical music and those with a more casual curiosity will find something of interest.
The festival is scheduled for June 3-5 at the McSwain Theatre in Ada, Okla.

Chickasaw Nation composer-in-residence Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate is serving as artistic director of this world’s first American Indian chamber music festival.

“The intention of the festival is to showcase American and Indian composers and performers,” said Tate.

Many of the top names among American Indian composers and performers of modern classical music will take part in the festival. This includes performances and instruction from Tate, Yaqui classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala, Voices of Change, Cherokee mezzo-soprano Barbara McAlister and New York City’s ETHEL string quartet.

The festival could hardly come at a better time, according to Tate.

“Right now there is a great wave of interest in American Indians for the classical fine arts, for both performance and composition,” said Tate. “It is the same thing we’ve seen in painting, dance, film and literature. There have been big explosions in all of those genres, and currently we’re witnessing a big explosion in classical music.

Tate will present morning lectures providing background on performers and composers participating in the festival. Open to the general public at no charge, these informal lectures will enable participants to become much more familiar with these icons of modern classical music.
Ticketed performances will provide the opportunity to experience top-quality modern classical music in a unique venue.

Julliard-trained modern string quartet ETHEL will perform in concert 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 3. That performance will include two works from OSHTALI, the first album release in history with only works by American Indian student composers.

During the OSHTALI recording session, the students acted as producer, conveying exactly how they intended their compositions to be played. 
Katie Barrick, OSHTALI composer, is planning to attend Oklahoma City University to pursue a career in music production. 
“My current goals would be nonexistent had it not been for the OSHTALI project,” she said.  “Sitting in the producer’s seat during that process was a light bulb moment for me—up until then I had never even considered producing, much less experienced it.”

Classical guitarist Gabriela Ayala will provide a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4.

Ayala hopes that the Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival will raise awareness of Native American classical musicians and composers on a national level.

“Being a Native American and a classical musician is like being a minority amongst a minority,” he said. 
“Hopefully the festival will plant a seed and show that there are many talented Native Americans who are making careers in classical music.”

The Sunday afternoon concert, beginning at 3 p.m., features compositions from American Indian classical composers from around the country.

“For our inaugural concert we are doing a memorial concert for the grandfather of American Indian classical composition, Louis Ballard,” said Tate.

Voices of Change, an internationally acclaimed chamber music ensemble based in Dallas, will join world-famous soprano Barbara McAlister to perform a memorial concert for Dr. Louis Ballard.

“It’s an honor to perform his works,” McAlister said, “and it will come from my heart…I hope the audience will feel it as well.”

McAlister said that the Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival is a concept that has been a long time coming.
“This is something I’ve hoped for a very long time,” she said. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Dr. Ballard, an Oklahoman of Quapaw-Cherokee descent, was a well-known composer, music educator and award-winning music journalist. The composer of “Incident at Wounded Knee,” “Four Moons” and other important works, Ballard was honored with the First Americans in the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

In 2004, he was the first classical composer to be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

For more information, including interview footage, a festival schedule and biographies of the performers, visit 
Tickets are available by contacting the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities at (580) 272-5520.