(15:00) String Quartet, Quartz Crystal Bass Flute, with large turtle water drum, owl buzzer, clay turtle whistle, and text. Copyright Fee: Score, parts. Music and text Copyright 1995, Brent Michael Davids.


Turtle People (Tunpao Nenangpe) features a specially built “turtle water drum,” a newly designed “owl buzzer,” a bass flute made of quartz crystal, and the Kronos Quartet. Performed entirely in the Mohican language, "Turtle People" makes use of the Mohican creation story. Once, the Earth was water 'below' and the Sky was water 'above.' A white owl woman decided to fly down through a whole in the sky. She flew down to the water below, tested the stability of the water with her foot and became impregnated. A turtle under the water looked up and saw she had no place to stand. The turtle floated as a “bubble” on the surface and offered her its back. Grateful for a place to rest, the woman gave the turtle the power to grow. The turtle was thankful and grew larger and larger until it became the land we call “Turtle Island.” Happy, the woman gave birth to the trees. Seeing this, the turtle people living in the water rose up onto the land to become the Mohicans or the "People of the Ever-Moving Waters."


"Turtle People" was made possible by a grant from the Meet The Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, in cooperation with Hancher Auditorium/University of Iowa and Brooklyn Academy of Music.