How Can You Own The Sky?

A Symphonic Poem Honoring Native Wisdom

“How Can You Own The Sky? provides emotional catharsis on par with the great masterworks of the past. The dramatic score is brought to life through first-class orchestration and connects seamlessly with the poetry. Both the musicians and the audience were deeply touched by the experience.”

Martin Majkut, Conductor

How Can You Own The Sky? is a new program symphony by composer Ethan Gans-Morse and poet Tiziana DellaRovere which explores the Native American legacy of Southern Oregon and beyond. It was commissioned by the Rogue Valley Symphony and developed in collaboration with Brent Florendo, professor of Native American Studies, in coordination with elders of the Takelma Tribe.

This page contains:

  • Audio recordings of the world premiere performance
  • Perusal score
  • Two-page summary (including instrumentation)
  • The complete poetry
  • Composer’s notes about the piece
  • Feature in Oregon ArtsWatch
  • Mini-documentary video featuring creator interviews

For performance rights and other inquiries, including booking the Dancing Spirit Native American ensemble, contact the composer at 541-778-1211 or via the Contact Page.

Performance Audio

Recorded live at the world premiere performance, April 2018
Rogue Valley Symphony, Martin Majkut, conductor

Complete performance in one track
(including singing, drumming and narrative poetry)

Track by track
(A section of poetry precedes each of the four symphonic movements)

Short audio excerpts

Perusal Score

CLICK HERE or on the graphic above to view and/or download a perusal score. (10mb PDF, 11″x17″)

Two-page summary sheet (including instrumentation)

Composer’s notes about the piece

CLICK HERE to read the composer’s program notes.

Complete Poetry

The four movements of How Can You Own The Sky? directly depict the narrative storyline and imagery described in the four corresponding parts of the poetry.


Oregon ArtsWatch Feature

How Can You Own The Sky? was recently featured in Oregon ArtWatch’s exploration of the Rogue Valley Symphony’s 50-year anniversary. CLICK HERE to read the article.

Short documentary video


How Can You Own The Sky? is a metaphor for the healing of the earth, celebrating core ideas that are universal to all indigenous people. It is that rare and special piece that works on all levels, socially, culturally, and artistically, because it’s the fruit of a two-year trust relationship that composer Ethan Gans-Morse and poet Tiziana DellaRovere developed with me and with the larger Native Community.

I believe in this piece and I want it to reach as wide an audience as possible, both Native and non-Native, because it is a model for what can be accomplished when arts organizations bring together high-calibre artists dedicated to the social mission of making a better world.

My hope is that by performing this piece, other symphonies will open the door to new relationships with their local indigenous people.

~Brent Florendo is a professor of Native American Studies and Native Nations Liaison for Southern Oregon University. He has lived a broad range of experiences across both the traditional Native and the classical European worlds of arts and culture. He grew up on the Warm Springs reservation and has performed both as a Native singer, drummer, and dancer, as well as in the arena of classical music, opera, theater, and modern dance.

Cover Painting: She Who Watches by Chava Florendo. Used by permission.