Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra debuts “Kotuku” for orchestra and Native American flute

Posted on: March 29, 2022

“ ‘Kotuku’ is the title of a 15-minute piece by Christopher Blake … premiered [on March 25] by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, featuring the renowned Ojibwe flute player Darren Thompson,” writes Gayle Worland in Friday’s (3/25) Wisconsin State Journal. “The composition’s title refers to a solitary white crane found in New Zealand, the kotuku…. ‘Kotuku’ was commissioned by WCO music director Andrew Sewell and his wife, Mary Anne Sewell, both originally from New Zealand. The piece was inspired by a stirring film written by Mary Anne Sewell, ‘Let Your Sisters Be,’ which subtly tells the story of two young sisters who were abused by a trusted family adult friend…. ‘Let Your Sisters Be’ weaves in images of a flying kotuku, which in Maori legend accompanies the wairua (spirits of the dead) back to the world of their ancestors. The film … can be viewed via the WCO website…. Thompson … a journalist for Native News Online in Minneapolis, first fell in love with the sound of the Native American flute while a student at Marquette University…. He has combined his music and storytelling at … the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, for the National Congress of American Indians and the North American Indigenous Games.”