Located along the shores of Yaquina Bay on the Oregon coast, this is a 400-acre peninsula that is home to a variety of plants and wildlife including spruce trees, black bears, and owls – all inhabiting their natural habitats.
The history of the region goes back hundreds of years. Its indigenous inhabitants, the indigenous Yaaqq people, prospered as stewards of the land as he described them Yacona Nature Preserve and Learning Center website.
The Newport Symphony Orchestra will perform a new piece of music this weekend that pays homage to these original hosts.
The western expansion of the European colonizers destroyed their society and reduced their numbers almost 700 to only 80 by the middle of the 19th century.
Then, in 1885, the US government formed the Siletz Reservationin what is now Lincoln County, displacing nearly 3,000 indigenous people from 27 tribes, and completely losing their way of life.
In 2018, they founded the non-profit organization Yacona Nature Preserve and Learning Center To educate the community about the benefits of preserving the land and learn about its history.
Last year, they partnered with Newport Symphony Orchestra to create a brand new orchestral piece honoring the natural beauty of the reserve and the devastating history of its indigenous Aboriginal people.
The result is “Yacona”.
Newport Symphony executive director Lisa Lipton says the genesis of Yacona began when she began learning about the history of the Oregon coast.
“There is a lot of history there, and a lot of it is really devastating,” she says. “There is no way around that.”
Once he had instilled the idea for a new orchestral piece, the Newport Symphony needed someone to write it.
“When I contacted Sarah, I knew she was the type of person who would approach this in a way that would not only be very beautiful, but very meaningful,” says Flatt.
Graef, who was teaching music at California State University Los Angeles, Jump at the chance.
I said to Adam, “I can’t imagine anything more in the ballpark than this, because I personally have a lot of connections with the Pacific Northwest.” I’ve spent a lot of time in Newport.
To prepare, Graef spent time with Bill and Joanne Barton on the Yakona Reservation, inspired by the splendor of nature.
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“We would lie on the moss and just look at the sky and listen to the wind in the trees and feel the energy of the different and special places out there in the reserve,” Greif says. “It was unbelievable.”
Graef has also worked with Robert Kentta, one of the recorders Member of the Confederate Tribes of the Siletz IndiansTo learn about the history of the people of Yaaqoon. The more she learned, the more she wanted to write a piece that honors their legacy and acknowledges their tragic past.
“We have to acknowledge what happened in the past. And that’s a big part of this puzzle that allows me to have a role in this cultural awakening,” she says.
Graef delivered the finished piece at the end of 2022, and the symphony underwent its first full rehearsal in mid-January.
Newport Symphony is set to The Yacona premieres at the Newport Performing Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday.
Lisa Lipton hopes Yakona will inspire people to learn more about the history of their region beyond what is taught in schools.
“I didn’t know much of this history,” she says. “I grew up partly in Oregon. And I think if we can learn about a lot of that history through art, it will have a bigger impact.”