Jerod Tate's "Children's Songs"

The Composer's Datebook from American Public Media
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The American composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and its Composer-in-Residence. He was born in Norman, Oklahoma, and his chamber and orchestra works, all infused with themes and musical elements from his Native heritage, have been performed by major orchestras like the Detroit Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Colorado Ballet, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

But during the fall of 2011, Tate began working with a non-professional ensemble closer to home—at Dickson Middle School in Dickson, Oklahoma. Tate had been commissioned by the American Composers Forum to write a new work for their ChoralQuest series for middle-school choirs. The resulting work, entitled Taloowa' Chipota, which in the Chickasaw language means “Children’s Songs,” was premiered on May 15, 2012, by the children at the Dickson School.

“The songs,” explained Tate, “are reminiscent of traditional stomp dancing and are based on old Chickasaw melodies. Stomp dances begin at dusk and end at dawn. The first movement depicts the beginning sunlight of the morning. The second is full of abstracted textures emulating the shell shaking in stomp dances.”

For his part, Tate says he’s pleased how it all turned out: “I was able to introduce a Chickasaw experience to a diverse group of students… I strengthened my own relationship with my Chickasaw community and demonstrated to the Chickasaws in the chorus how our culture can positively impact classical music.”