Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio
‘Enemy Slayer’ musically stunning, Deseret News, 5/2/09
“Musically, ‘Enemy Slayer’ is stunning. It moves from breathtakingly beautiful and lush passages to sections that are stringently dissonant, and finally ends peacefully and simply. Yet everything is cohesive and quite seamless. It is a hypnotic work that makes quite an impression on the listener.”
A “Best Classical Release” of Q1 2009, Allmusic.com
“Grey knows the value of a good recording, and percussive effects pack a punch; the recording is big, spacious, and captures all of the details of the orchestration and chorus in spite of the size of the forces involved.”
“From the standpoint of Western music, however, Enemy Slayer is a revelatory and utterly different musical experience in the realm of oratorio — an admirable achievement indeed.”
Colorado Music Festival’s ‘Enemy Slayer’ powerful, Daily Camera, July 2008
“Grey and Navajo librettist Laura Tohe have created a glorious tapestry of sounds and sensations that celebrate both the culture of the Diné people and a more general faith in humanity. Grey’s entirely acoustic music does not indulge in overt ‘modernism,’ and he always seems to have the ears of the audience in mind.”
Enemy Slayer’ explores angst of the returning warrior, Rocky Mountain News, July 2008
“Using a poetic, English-and-Navajo text by Laura Tohe, and augmented by projected images of the Southwest by photographer Deborah O’Grady, Enemy Slayer guides us into a native American society that treats its returning warriors with far greater respect and compassion than most communities in this country.”
“Grey is a promising talent and this work does carry a potent message embracing world peace – and inner peace.”
Denver Post, July 2008:
“On the surface, the oratorio — beautifully performed Friday night by the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony Chorus and baritone Daniel Belcher — is an absorbing statement on our time of war and its ravaging effect on the human psyche. At its core, however, composer Mark Grey and Navajo librettist Laura Tohe relay a communal journey of salvation and spiritual restoration.
Before a full house at Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium, conductor Michael Christie masterfully navigated the work’s progression through the four cardinal directions — East (birth), South (youth), West (adulthood) and North (death).
Belcher shone in his role and delivery of the protagonist, “Seeker,” representing a universal soldier who achieves inner peace by silencing the demons within. Vocally powerful and intuitive, Belcher’s persuasive dramatization of the score further enhanced its ultimately triumphant message of healing and hope.
The fine festival orchestra fully realized the work’s robust — often explosive — instrumentation, even as the chorus carefully shaped its muted phrasings with precise diction and a fitting sensibility.”
Navajo oratorio a triumph in Phoenix, Opera Today, February 2008
“A triumph… an achievement that has all the markings of a Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk — a composite work of art that might well prove a major monument of early 21st-century music.”
“The carefully prepared performance of Grey’s lush and loving music brought home just how original the composer is in his understanding of the design of music. He has created here a collage of colors that brings the many voices of soloist, choir and instruments together with near-magical homogeneity.”
Universal truths, ancient wisdom, Navajo Times, February 2008
Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio reveals deep meaning of creation story — “An experience so moving that some audience members shed tears, and no one was left untouched by its depth of meaning.”
Premier performance bridges cultures, Navajo Times, February 2008
Oratorio evokes tears of pride, recognition, hope, Navajo Times, February 2008
For videos on the making of Enemy Slayer, visit the Videos page.