Oklahoma City, OK Inside Katie Barrick's heart, a war
rages between a refined classical violinist and an undisciplined,
As a violinist, Ms. Barrick's instrument gives voice to a disciplined
composer's work each note painstakingly printed on sheet
music and performed exactly as the composer intended.
As a fiddler, Ms. Barrick composes instantaneously by following
music in her head and heart. In this less restrictive genre, sheet
music is as scarce as an electric guitar at a bluegrass festival.
The rallying cry in this setting is "play what you feel!"
Her coach, mentor and now colleague, Chickasaw classical composer
Jerod Tate, calls such talent "composing in the moment."
Both Ms. Barrick and Mr. Tate are Chickasaw. Both are professional
musicians and composers. While their commonalities are vast, a singular
event crafted a career for one and enriched the life of both.
The Chickasaw Arts Academy Summer Session impacts lives.
Katie Barrick may well be one of the Academy's greatest success
stories, according to Mr. Tate, who is working with the Spokane
Orchestra's string quartet for an April 30 performance, "Visions
of Native Voices."
The Washington state quartet will play several compositions
by Chickasaw Academy youth participants.
One of the selections "Caffeine Smile" was composed
by Ms. Barrick when she was only 16.
"I am thrilled, excited, fascinated and upbeat the quartet chose
to perform Caffeine Smile,'" Ms. Barrick said. "It is an honor
and so humbling as well."
The Spokane quartet will close out its 2017 concert season with
American Indian-inspired music. In addition to Ms. Barrick's composition,
three other compositions by Chickasaw Arts Academy students will
be performed. They include "Concerto for Strings" by John McAlister;
"Circus Revolution" by Miko Begaye; and "Holhchifo Ki'yo" (No Name)
by Dylan Bennett.
For more than a decade, Mr. Tate has steered Chickasaw youth
along the musical pathway. The Emmy-winning composer believes the
Academy is a tour de force to be emulated by others in both Indian
Country and America.
The Academy, he said, illustrated the Chickasaw Nation's dedication
to the arts and to its talented youth.
"I think the Academy is awesome and every American Indian tribe
should strive to sponsor one," Mr. Tate said. "'Caffeine Smile'
is Katie's second composition. It is wonderfully composed and the
four instruments bring to life a homage to her bluegrass upbringing."
But "Caffeine Smile" is not Katie's most complicated piece of
"She thrived at the Academy," Mr. Tate said. "She applied what
she learned, experimented and followed suggestions on where Caffeine
Smile' could go musically and expressively. Each instrument, violin,
second violin, viola and cello, are all doing something completely
different from the melody. But when it all comes together, wow!
True compositional counterpoint.
"And, I want to be crystal clear. As a teacher and coach, I
never write one note of their music. Compositions are entirely composed
by the students. Entirely! They deserve all the credit."
ME AND MY FIDDLE
Ms. Barrick is 23. She is education coordinator for the Oklahoma
City Philharmonic and the Oklahoma City Orchestra League. She has
been in the job a little more than a year since graduating from
Oklahoma City University with a bachelor's degree in music business.
She is an accomplished violinist. She is also a talented fiddler.
She has played since age three when her grandfather, Jack Barrick,
placed a tiny instrument in her hands and arranged for lessons.
Before auditioning for her first foray into Academy instruction,
Ms. Barrick was playing in a Mead-area country music band, attending
bluegrass festivals and competing in fiddle contests. Her father,
Roland, ferried her to contests. Her mom, Melissa and grandmother,
Katherine, cheered on her efforts.
"My senior year of high school, I knew if I wanted to pursue
music in college I would have to perform classical music," Ms. Barrick
said. "I worked really hard to beef up my classical chops to audition
for the music program. I managed to do well enough to be accepted
by OCU's orchestra. I completely switched gears to classical music
"By the time I graduated, I had a foot in the classical world
and a foot in the fiddling world. But I play fiddle every chance
She is a featured instrumentalist on "Spirit of a Nation," a
tune written by Chickasaws to highlight the theme of the tribe's
Annual Meeting and Festival celebrated each October. Ms. Barrick
was an OCU freshman when she contributed to the work.
TATE'S GUIDING HAND
As an impressionable 15-year-old, Ms. Barrick was
"star-struck" by Mr. Tate.
"He was the highly successful, hard-core classical composer
we would see on television," she said.
When introduced, Mr. Tate struck the young musician as "warm.
He was cool and easygoing."
When he inquired if she read music, Ms. Barrick was horrified.
She told the composer she played by ear but possessed rudimentary
"He just said, Okay. Cool. Great,'" Ms. Barrick recalled.
"I did not expect that at all. I didn't expect an accomplished classical
composer to say it was okay I did not read music very well."
Mr. Tate devoted an hour of individual composition instruction
to Chickasaw youth each day. Together, student and instructor would
discuss what could happen musically, perhaps what should happen,
and how voices of four instruments could meld into exhilarating
music compositions that stir audiences emotionally.
"I had the melody of Caffeine Smile' floating around in
my head and I played it for him (Tate)," Ms. Barrick said.
She described the composition as "happy, energetic and positive."
Mr. Tate suggested how the other instruments could act as a foundation
while playing musical structures different from the melody, thus
enriching the composition with varying rhythms and harmonies. Ms.
Barrick wrote music for each instrument. For days, "Caffeine Smile"
consumed her every waking moment.
"It was so much fun," she said. "It was written as a fun song,
light-hearted and airy. I did not comprehend at the time what doors
of opportunity were opened for me through the Arts Academy. Jerod
was my teacher and mentor. Now, we are close friends and colleagues
in this wonderful world of music. My tribe opened this door and
then helped me through college. I graduated debt-free from OCU.
And, my tribe supports the arts. It partners with the OKC Philharmonic
and continues to sustain me as a citizen and a professional in the
arts field. It is significant.
"Jerod Tate opened so many doors for me artistically and then
professionally as I began my career," she said. "Without the Chickasaw
Arts Academy, Jerod and my tribe, I wouldn't be in this great profession."
About Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy
The Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy is a two-week exploration
into the world of fine arts for students ages 8-18.
The 2017 Academy is set July 10-22 on the campus of East Central
University in Ada, Okla. Hosted by Chickasaw Nation Arts & Humanities,
students are taught a range of disciplines including vocal music,
theatre, theatre technology, dance, creative writing, visual arts
in 2-D and 3-D, music composition, photography, textile design,
cultural arts and video production. For more information, call Chickasaw
Nation Arts & Humanities, at (580) 272-5520.