, Muskogee, OK

May 16, 2013

Event takes classic approach

Native Americans will sing, perform classical music

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Music lovers can enjoy operatic arias, Broadway tunes, even Cherokee lullabies presented by Classical Native Stars on Saturday.

The performance, which features Muskogee mezzo-soprano Barbara McAlister, will be 7 p.m. Saturday at Bacone Chapel. The performance is presented by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and made possible through endowment from Allece Garrard. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door.

People may meet the performers and hear a preview of the concert during a VIP Reception, 6:30 p.m. Friday at 301 W. Broadway. Cost is $75.

Classical musicians, all Native American, will perform. They include classical pianist and emcee Timothy Long, Creek-Choctaw; soprano Rebecca Mann, Cherokee, and bass-baritone singer JJ Hudson, Oglala-Lakota.

“It’s just a little something different so we can bring another source of entertainment to Muskogee,” said Five Civilized Tribes Museum Director Mary Robinson. “We’re bringing New York to Muskogee. To bring people of this caliber is a big honor for us.”

McAlister, a Cherokee, said Native American classical performers are still “kind of unusual.”

However, she said, “slowly more people are going into classical music who are Native American.”

McAlister, a Muskogee native and resident, has performed with the Hong Kong Opera, the Opera de Monte Carlo, the Washington Opera and the Arizona Opera. Her repertoire also includes performing Native American songs, including performing at the Tsa-la-gi Amphitheatre in Tahlequah.

Her Saturday performance will show such versatility.

“I’m going to sing a little Cherokee lullaby, two operatic arias and I will join in singing songs from ‘West Side Story,’” McAlister said. The arias include one from “Adriana Lecouvreur” by Francesco Cilea and “Stride la Vampa” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”

Long, a native of Holdenville, said he first met McAlister when he was a student at Oklahoma City University and she appeared there. He said they have been friends ever since.

He said his mother, Stella Dyer Long, is a full-blood Choctaw and storyteller.

“She’s been to the Five Tribes Museum,” he said.

Long will direct Saturday’s performance as well as perform. Long has made guest appearances with the Utah Opera, Opera Colorado, Boston Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and the Aspen music festival.

Hudson is a freelance artist based in Florida. He has performed more than 20 lyric theater roles including Sweeny Todd from “Sweeny Todd,” Lancelot from “Camelot” and Leporello from “Don Giovanni.” He has appeared with the Syracuse Opera, Empire State Lyrica Theater and the Tacoma Opera.

Mann is a former Powwow Princess and a graduate from Haskell Indian Nations University. She has performed with the Seagle Music Colony in upstate New York. She also has performed with the Shreveport Opera.

Robinson said Allece Garrard has been a longtime supporter of the museum.

“Allece was a wonderful teacher whose passion was the theater,” Robinson said. The endowment benefits programming for the museum.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: VIP Reception.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. today.

WHERE: 301 W. Broadway.

COST: $75 per person, must make reservation.

INFORMATION: (918) 683-1701.


WHAT: Classical Native Stars.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Bacone Chapel on Bacone College campus, 2299 Old Bacone Road.

WHO: Mezzo-Soprano Barbara McAlister, soprano Rebecca Mann, bass-baritone JJ. Hudson and pianist Timothy Long.

COST: Adults, $18 in advance or $20 at the door; seniors age 62 and older, $10 in advance or $12 at the door.