Recognized as the first album in history with works solely by American Indian student-composers, OSHTALI (trans. “divide into four parts”) is the latest CD to feature the ebullient string quartet, ETHEL. This 16-work collection showcases the contemporary classical music of students of the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy in Ada. Released June 29, OSHTALI is sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation and is part of the 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. They are surprisingly sophisticated and bring a point of view to the music unlike anything we are accustomed to hearing. I’m excited to be part of this tribute to the heritage and to 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 Summer Arts Academy in 2008 and ‘09 under the tutelage of Chickasaw Nation Composer-in-Residence, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. “It’s a life-changing experience because two years ago they wrote their first piece ever,” said Tate. "Now they’re releasing an album of their works into the classical world.”
“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 Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill 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.”