This album contains fresh, deeply moving new musical impressions of the Colorado Plateau, focusing on the awe-inspiring beauty of the region & the enigmatic, yet highly spiritual cultural expressions found within its stark landscapes. With the striking musical creativity in each section of this suite, allow yourself to be drawn into the majesty, grandeur, & serenity of the Plateau’s other-worldly beauty.
The Colorado Plateau is an expansive region comprised of thousands of square miles in the “four corner” states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The geographic features are dramatic and the climate is challenging for its range of temperature and aridity. The region contains numerous cultural treasures – petroplyphs, pictographs, architectural ruins, & sacred sites from earlier inhabitants. Of course, for the Native American, everything is sacred.
Three remarkable musicians with international éclat have teamed up on this album: Marden Pond is a concert, recording, and film composer whose works have been performed and recorded across America and in Europe, and broadcast worldwide. His music has often memorialized significant cultural and historical events. Woodwind specialist, Daron Bradford, is featured on numerous albums, broadcasts, and film scores. Nino Reyos, renowned Native American flute master, has toured internationally, shared the stage with many Native American luminaries, & was featured in the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Utah.
• Silent Sentinels: The petroglyphs and pictographs found throughout the Colorado Plateau serve as an enigmatic reminder of the ancient people who created them. (“Petroglyphs” are images that have been carved into the stone; “pictographs” are images that have been painted onto the surface of the stone.) These images – along with the sparse skeletal trees and soaring stone towers, sandstone goblins and hoodoos – silently, but majestically, watch over isolated and sacred spaces and desolate realms as “silent sentinels.”
• Intersections: Canyons, Stones, Spirits, Time, Generations, Tribes, People, Worlds: The Plateau is a region full of intersections – intersections where canyons join one another; intersections where layers of stone are thrust into and through each other; intersections of time, where geologic epochs are layered one upon another; and intersections where the expressions of prehistoric people speak to later tribes, and astound awe-struck visitors. The universality of thought that permeates the stone-based images even points to universal archetypes, where other people and cultures have also sought to express life’s meaning. The natural wonder of stone and sky even connects us to possible undiscovered (or forgotten) heavenly realms and worlds.
• Morning Star: Stars are often represented in petroglyphs and pictographs. Among some Pueblo people, the star is the symbol of the Sky God. Of particular importance is the Morning Star, which may be related to the Mesoamerican symbol of Quetzalcóatl (typically represented as a feathered serpent, but linked in native mythology to the planet Venus – the Morning Star ). This bearded Toltec deity promised to return from the East. “As the god of learning, of writing, and of books, Quetzalcóatl was particularly venerated in the calmecac, religious colleges annexed to the temples, in which the future priests and the sons of the nobility were educated. Outside of Tenochtitlán, the main centre of Quetzalcóatl’s cult was Cholula, on the Puebla plateau.” As represented by the Morning and Evening Star, Quetzalcóatl was the god of death and resurrection. There is conjecture that ancient Colorado Plateau dwellers may have had some connection with Mesoamerican (possibly Toltec) culture. (Note the unusual cross-cultural artistic representation of tropical parrots found within the more northern-centered Chaco culture. ) Even today, “the most intriguing subjects of the Navajo artists are the star panels, for they appear to be unique in North American rock art. . . Besides appearing on the ceilings of caves, the stars and constellations are pictured on ceremonial prayer sticks, gourd rattles, and particularly in the sandpaintings. . . .” The “traditional Navajo are extremely reluctant to talk about the star panels to AngloAmericans, for they are considered special places. Modern-day shamans still visit the planetarium sites to leave offerings.”
• Temple/Mountain: Near Goblin Valley is a large mountain of light colored stone, Temple Mountain. (There seem to be a number of mountains throughout the region that have also been given this name.) Popular modern legend promotes the idea that the name was given to this mountain because its appearance resembles the shape of early Utah temples, built by Mormon settlers. In nearby Capitol Reef there are also rock formations called the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon. However, the idea of a high mountain where the gods speak to mankind, or that are sacred natural edifices, brings additional meaning to the combined concepts of temples and mountains. In many cultures, these high and isolated places symbolize where the gods dwell and where they speak to man, where the spirits of dead ancestors may be found, or where the spirit of animals may be communicated with.
• Dance of the Ancients (Dots, Lines, Spirals, Circles, and Squiggles): This piece focuses on the petroglyph/pictograph sites that cover entire rock slabs with multiple images, such as “Newspaper Rock.” Along with representational images and anthropomorphs, these panels often contain intricate geometric designs, wavy lines, and spirals. The overall effect is vibrant and energetic.
• Earth Meets Sky: This music conveys the awe and wonder seen in the night sky over the Plateau. “Religion is central to Zuni life. Their religious beliefs are centered on the three most powerful of their deities: Earth Mother, Sun Father, and Moonlight-Giving Mother . . . .” “Often in [Paiute] legends, the stars are referred to as ‘the People of the Sky World.’” “Apaches have always been inherently aware of earth and sky spirits. From their early morning prayers to the Sun-God, through their hours, days, and their entire lives – for them every act has sacred significance.” Perhaps this piece can be connected to the intertwined relationship of these deities.
• Swirling Verticals: Fantastic slot canyons and other dramatic rock formations may be found in many places on the Plateau. They often exhibit swirling forms and textures caused by the bending of layers of the earth under extreme geologic pressures, hardened sands from prehistoric lake bottoms, or shapes carved by rushing wind or water.
From “Legend of the Night Chant”: “Near [the Dreamer] was a deep, rock-walled canyon, from the depths of which came the sound of many voices. . . . Muffled strains of song came from deep recesses in each canyon wall – the Gods were singing! And just within the openings, visible in the glow of a fire, many dancers were performing in unison as they kept time with rattles.” Related to the dancing within rock walls, from “How the Hopi Indians Reached Their World”: In the third cave world, “times of evil came to [the ancient people]. Women became so crazed that they neglected all things for the dance.”
The musical setting includes broad sonic sweeps, as well as intricate rhythmic patterns, that provide an intriguing background for melodic improvisations from plaintive Native American flutes.
• Visages: Faces In the Stone: Haunting faces loom over many of the historic and scenic sites within the Colorado Plateau. Some of these faces are man-created, being part of remarkable rock art depictions throughout the area. Other faces may be conjured up by the imagination while viewing the fantastic rock formations in the region.
• Sun Dagger: Calendar of the Sun & Moon, Center of Time, Place of Emergence/Convergence. The Sun Dagger is an “extraordinary celestial calendar created by ancient North American Indians, and rediscovered by artist Anna Soafer, high on a butte in New Mexico. The ‘dagger’ is presently the only known site in the world that marks the extreme positions of both the sun and moon. A remarkable film, The Mystery of Chaco Canyon, explores the complex culture of the Anasazi Indians who constructed the calendar, and thrived both spiritually and materially in the harsh environment of Chaco Canyon a thousand years ago.” Every year at noon time on the Summer Solstice a dagger of sunlight pierces the center of a petroglyph spiral on Fajada Butte. The Winter Solstice finds two daggers of light, one each on the outer edges of the spiral. The 18.6-year cycle of the moon’s “standstills” and lunar equinox are also shown as the rising moon casts shadows on the spiral. Even many of the ancient stone buildings in Chaco Canyon, and the long roads connecting separated building sites, appear to be oriented to “the midpoints and extremes of the solar and lunar cycles,” indicating a remarkable understanding of astronomy and time keeping among these ancient people.
Chaco Canyon is considered a centerplace in the ancient cultures – the location at which the ancients emerged into this world, a place associated with the “center of time,” and a calendar of the cycles of the sun and moon. It is thought that the Great Pueblos in Chaco Canyon were not dwelling places, but spirit-instigated edifices where many people converged to participate in some sort of astrologically-synchronized ritual.
• Spirit Guide (Animal Messengers – Gift Givers, Connivers, Omen-Bearers): “. . . North American Indians believed that spirit life dwelled in all of nature. . . . Everything in nature possessed a life or spirit within, even the sky, earth, mountains, trees, waters, animals, birds – and man.” Animals – such as coyotes, eagles, ravens, snakes, and others – were believed to communicate warnings, omens, or blessings to the those who were sensitive to their subtle messages. The animal’s mere presence might portend upcoming positive or negative life-events. Along with masterful and expressive Native American flute passages, this musical movement contains actual digital samples of selected animal voices from the Plateau.
• Kokopelli Sketches (The Four Flutes): An enigmatic but pervasive rock art image throughout the Plateau, Kokopelli is portrayed as a hunchback (or backpack-bearing) figure who plays a flute. He is often portrayed with horns or some other head protrusions, frequently with obvious phallic symbolism. In diverse Native American cultures he may represent the diety of music, dance, & joy. He is also believed to be a trickster and mischief maker; a fertility symbol related to Spring, to general renewal, to agriculture, rebirth, or childbirth. He may also be considered as a healer, a storyteller, and a magician. Some people see Kokopelli’s image in the shadows of the moon (much like European cultures see the “man in the moon”).
This musical composition figuratively portrays some of the pensive, as well as fanciful, traits of this fascinating ancient symbol. The music also references the legend of the “Four Flutes,” where the Zuñi people wished for new music and ceremonial dances. The God of Dew gave each of four “wise elders” a flute.
“Kokopelli Sketches” briefly quotes an old Zuñi song about greeting the sunrise. The modern composition requires a flute soloist to perform on four separate Native American flutes, each with a different pitch range, tone color, or scale pattern.
• Bonus Track: Standing Up Country (Monoliths): Perhaps the most dramatic geographic element of the Colorado Plateau is its verticality. Sheer-cliffed mesas and buttes, free-standing sandstone monoliths and arches, jagged mountain peaks, and towering canyon walls provide this region with its striking and awe-inspiring vistas. A vivid photographic exploration of the region was contained in the groundbreaking book from the 1960s – with the same title, Standing Up Country – by C. Gregory Crampton. A similarly spectacular Imax short film with this title was also released in 1973. This short musical fanfare reflects the geological majesty, eon-enduring forces, and scenic grandeur of the region.
About the Composer:
Marden Pond is active as a composer, arranger, conductor, producer, & educator. He has taught music at every level, from grade school to graduate school, including positions at Saddleback College, Orange Coast College, Pepperdine University, the College of Eastern Utah, Utah State University Extension, Brigham Young University, Arizona State University, the University of Northern Colorado, Granite & Salt Lake City School Districts, and Utah Valley University.
He has received commissions from: Meet-the-Composer (New York), National Endowment for the Arts, the National Pony Express Association, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Utah Statehood Centennial Commission, and many others. Dr. Pond is the author of books & articles on music theory, digital & electronic music, pedagogy, music education, jazz, music for theatrical dance, and music in the home.
He is an audio and video producer, with productions including a 38-episode televised series on the humanities and arts. The composer of music on over twenty recorded albums, Dr. Pond has also created music for symphony orchestras, choirs, the ballet stage, film (including the Emmy Award-winning film, The Shadow Of Light), video productions, modern dance groups, & a wide variety of chamber, studio, commercial & recording ensembles, a substantial amount of innovative electronic music, jazz ensembles, commissioned arrangements, & even commercial jingles.
Receiving over 20 special awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Pond has over 300 titles listed in the ASCAP registry. Produced in conjunction with concert pianist, David Glen Hatch, the CD, Title of Liberty (for which Pond created original music, special arrangements, and conducted), was named the 2008 Pearl Award winner as “Classical Instrumental Album of the Year.” He has conducted numerous musical ensembles -- professional, recording studio, community, and educational. These include symphonic groups (orchestras, bands, etc.), chamber ensembles, jazz groups, choirs, theater orchestras, etc. He arranged & conducted music for a special performance in Arlington National Cemetery on the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.
About the Flute Soloists:
Daron Bradford: Daron plays an amazing array of woodwinds, including numerous specialty and indigenous instruments.
He was the principal clarinetist with the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra and taught at the Mexico International Conservatory of Music. He is a professor of music and a professional studio musician, as well as a clarinetist for the Utah Symphony.
Daron plays all the flutes (soprano, alto, bass), penny whistle, recorder (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), Irish flute, quena (2 types, from South America), zampona (South American pan flute), a number of Native American flutes, Japanese shakuhachi, chanter (i.e., bagpipe), clarinet (Bb, Eb, bass), saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), oboe, English horn, bassoon, and piano and sings. He is the featured woodwind specialist with the world/folk/jazz group Enoch Train, and the folk flute specialist with the Orchestra at Temple Square – being a highlighted soloist on a number of their albums. One of the region’s busiest studio musicians, he often performs on recordings for Marden Pond. (Bio adapted from Enoch Train website.)
Nino Reyos: Nino Reyos performed with Felipe Rose (of the Village People) in the award-winning Trail of Tears program in 2002. Nino is a Northern Traditional Dancer, carrying on the Tradition of the warrior, wearing the eagle bustles of past days. Nino holds a master’s degree in social work, and has used his music to teach culture, substance abuse and healing, and philosophy. His rich heritage and cultural background are the foundation for his teaching of indigenous craft, dance, stories, and music. He regularly conducts workshops on flute playing, and is influential with people of both indigenous and non-indigenous cultures. Nino has shared his music throughout the world. His international travels have included performances in Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden. He has performed at the well-known Indian Summer gathering in Milwaukee, WI, and has shared the stage with Douglas Spottedeagle, R. Carlos Nakai, Jim Bilagody, and Bill Miller. Nino was featured in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies held in Salt Lake City, Utah and also performed at the 2007 Deaflympics Opening Ceremonies. Nino’s third CD, which was released in the spring of 2004, won an International Telly award, and also received a Native American Music Award nomination. Nino is currently a Voting Member of the Grammy Awards. (Adapted from Green Light Booking.)
Front Cover: Vision of Glyphs. Renowned printmaker, Brent Haddock, has spent many years exploring and interpreting the beauties of the Colorado Plateau. Brent is a master of intaglio, silkscreen, etching, and lithography. “He is a printmaker known for his semi-abstract intaglio prints characterized by graphic compositions, natural elements of design, and subtle color harmonies. He lives in Heber City, Utah. Haddock . . . was a faculty member and administrator at the College of Eastern Utah. [He] earned a BA from Brigham Young University in 1974 and an MFA from Utah State University in 1978. Because he is committed to non-toxic printmaking, he also attended the Canadian School for Non-Toxic Printmaking. Haddock's work is held in the collections of many public institutions including the Utah Arts Council, Salt Lake County, Weber State University, and Brigham Young University.”