As part of The Phoenix Symphony's 60th Anniversary Season, the orchestra commissioned a work to celebrate the vibrant musical and cultural heritage of Arizona. The world premiere performance of Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio occurred in February 2008. The oratorio depicts the journey of Seeker — a war veteran — as a contemporary retelling of the ancient Navajo story of Enemy Slayer. With the poetic skills of project librettist, Laura Tohe developed this story of spiritual battle and recovery, and adapted it to modern times. The inspiration and context of the work were explored through a four-week residency with composer Mark Grey. With English and Navajo language elements, western and Native American musical components, and a mix of both contemporary and ancient narratives, Enemy Slayer is a unique and inspiring musical journey.
As part of its residency program for Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio, The Phoenix Symphony presented artist masterclasses with composer Mark Grey and librettist Laura Tohe at Diné college, the higher education institution of the Navajo people. More about this project can be found at the Phoenix Symphony website.
The Navajo and English libretto can be downloaded off the Naxos label website. For those with a subscription to Native Literatures: Generations, an audio recording of a segment of Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio can be accessed at the Naxos Classic Music Label.
An interview on the oratorio was broadcast on KJZZ in Phoenix.
Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio, Laura Tohe (Libretto) and Mark Grey (Composer)