Katelyn Morton, Kirsten Kunkle, Mark Billy to Headline World Premiere of Jerod Impichchaachaaha Tate‘s ‘Shell Shaker’

By David Salazar

The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra is set to world premiere “Shell Shaker,” a new opera by Jerod Impichchaachaaha Tate on. Feb. 24, 2023 at Prat Hall in Massachusetts.

The opera is based on the ancient legend of the Chickasaw people who received turtle shells as a traditional percussion instrument. The opera will be entirely in Chickasaw language and will star an all-Native cast including Katelyn Morton (Cherokee), Kirsten Kunkle (Muscogee), and Mark Billy (Choctaw).

Tian Hui Ng will conduct the world premiere performance.

This world premiere is the latest in a long line of similar premieres for Tate who will see “The Glimmer” get its first performances with Seattle Pro Music in March. Meanwhile, Mid-America Productions is set to showcase Tate’s “Iholba (The Vision), a work for orchestra, chorus, and solo flute at Carnegie Hall. He is also working on commissions for the Turtle Island Quartet, Roomful of Teeth, Parlando, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Boston Children’s Chorus, and Florida Orchestra, among many others.

Following the pandemic, Tate, who is self-published, decided to waive all fees on his works through the end of 2023.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I made a public announcement that all my music is free for purchase, rental, or sync rights through 2023,” Tate said in an official press statement. “I felt this was the most immediate and tangible way I could help my music community. I also prioritize making myself available for Zoom coaching, pre-, and post-concert appearances, and other events to help the artistic and marketing efforts of the performances.”