Timing is everything, they say, and here’s proof. When the Albuquerque-based chamber music group Chatter commissioned a new work from Raven Chacon in 2019, they thought they were getting a wind octet from a local composer. Instead, they got the world premiere of a quartet for cello, English horn, bass clarinet, and percussion from the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and they didn’t have to lift a finger.
What happened? The octet was to be performed in summer 2020 and became a victim of the pandemic. Chacon, a Diné composer and visual artist who lives in Albuquerque, became the first Native American to win the Pulitzer in Music when his Voiceless Mass, a work for chamber orchestra and pipe organ, received the award in May 2022. And his commission from Chatter morphed into the new quartet, called Old Song, which has its first performance on Saturday, Aug. 13, as part of Chatter’s all-Chacon program at SITE Santa Fe.
Old Song continues the composer’s musical exploration of lightning and its zig-zag shape that started in 2003 with Atsiniltlish’ iye (Diné for lightning) and continued in 2019 with (Bury Me) Where the Lightning [Will] Never Find Me. (The latter piece is on the Chatter program.)