Debra Harder on “Lenape Refrains”

November 25th, 2009 Uncategorized

One of the most haunting compositions I heard last season was Curt Cacioppo’s “Lenape Refrains,” a large-scale orchestral work premiered by the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, Karl Middleman, artistic director. Refrains is a deceptively mild term for this eight-movement work, which depicts the celebration, dances, and fate of the Lenape people, who are native to the Philadelphia region.

From a musical standpoint, the piece convinces because of its structural integrity, but it also captivates because of its striking use of Native American rhythms, chanting by the orchestra musicians, solo singing, and Native American instruments. One instrument in particular, the corn husk rattle, caught my ear.

Read more and view photos at