Rev. Occom’s Tune: Modal Rhapsody for Brass Quintet

Here is a photo essay to accompany “Rev. Occom’s Tune: Modal Rhapsody for Brass Quintet.” This Occom Rhapsody is not only sheet music, but a multi-media music educational package of many stories. Thanks for tuning in here!

This blog entry provides visual material to accompany the piece of music Rev. Occom’s Tune: Modal Rhapsody for Brass Quintet, by the Rev. Samson Occom (Mohegan/Brothertown) (1723-92) and Allen Gabriel Kastelle (2020).

I’d expected to get right to the pictures of my walks with Samson Occom(’s tune),
but the remarkable circumstances of the world premiere long-scheduled for April 5, 2020, then cancelled so near to concert date, seem to call for a brief detour into the idea of the amazing persistence of art, or artists, or at least some artistic works.

I remain deeply honored that the Brass Quintet of the United States Coast Guard prepared to give the world premiere of my score for brass quintet,
but unfortunately, COVID-19 pandemic response has cancelled the expected concert date. The USCG Brass Quintet were awesomely prepared, and are super-smart and great to work with.

Occom Rhapsody poster with CANCEL copy

I am also very grateful for and honored by the commission of music from Columbia Congregational Church. It has been a collaborative, customized process throughout with some really smart help and brainstorming from Columbia, CT. Here’s a glimpse of Columbia publicity for the concert (now cancelled–don’t come!), including a detail from the fabulous Nathaniel Smibert portrait of Occum as handsome, vigorous younger adult.

Coast Guard Band concert - Historical Collaboration - Columbia Views cropped

Remarkably, although people do not gather today, and my music is not sounded, still, already, the piece of music EXISTS.

“Perseverantia vincit” —
— motto of Temple University, Phila.

KAPorter arts quote

I have that Katherine Anne Porter quote from the back of a 2003 donation envelope for the Bay St. Theater, Sag Harbor (the Hamptons), NY, where I worked with Julie Andrews.
I always find that quote encouraging, and it has often lived on my music stand.

Ms. Porter’s writing about arts substance and reality is quite striking.
It reminds me of the cheerfully romantic metaphysical language of intellectual property law. IP law monetizes Platonic ideals—makes ideals real in that sense.
The Work in which my Copyrights and future Phonorights inhere has already been proven to exist, because I as Author have Fixed [an example of] it in Tangible Form.
But the Work itself which is mine is explicitly Intangible Property.
Yet, this Intangible Work feels actually quite real, and powerful, and magical.
Even though it has never sounded, never yet shook the air of a gathering, the Intangible exists.

For the persisting history of this existing Intangible Property, there are stories and informations I wish to be available to any listeners. My efforts lately have shifted from concert publicity to preparation of a sheet music edition. Sheet music is I believe not far from printing and distribution.
However, it’s not just sheet music that I’ve made, but rather a multi-media music educational package. The photos & captions essay below here is one element of the package. I should thank also a private committee of friends and stakeholders in the stories who helped greatly in sculpting the narrative and editing the details of both “One Composer’s Notes” and “Occom’s Favorite Meter”–they know who they are. Together, these documents (pictured below) make up the program supplement for listeners: another crucial element of the whole package.

Thus, to mark this scheduled and cancelled premiere date;
to whet the appetite of possible future performers and listeners;
to make available the audience program supplement and more;
I continue with original plan to give here today an essay of photos & captions to accompany Rev. Occom’s Tune: Modal Rhapsody for Brass Quintet.

Enjoy!—as soon as you can—this digital message is as transient and persistent as the electrons which bring you this message, and keep your memory.

Thanks for tuning in!                        —Allen Gabriel Kastelle


one composer's notes- Occom Rhapsody- program supplt-ready 2020-03-06Occom's Favorite MeterGeneral Performers' Notes - Occom Rhapsody 20200404

I give above photos only of the program supplements rather than inserting their substantial texts here, thus also retaining nice formatting. They are “One Composer’s Notes” = programmatic details about the music and “Occom’s Favorite Meter: Describing a Standard Hymnody Meter; Sample Verses from Rev. Occom’s Poetry.” Similarly, for this oddly silent premiere date, I add a picture of the page of “General Performer’s Notes,” which may be helpful in imagining how everything works together. So many stories!


Here, on State St., in New London, Connecticut (was Pequot Plantation, was Nameaug), I’m sure that my little feet have stepped exactly in the footsteps of the Rev. Samson Occom.

20180621_150146 copy

Closer in for more detail: doorway, look up, look down…

20180621_150242 copy

20180621_150300 copy

20180621_150053 better StateSt plaque

Samson Occom got his hymnal printed here in 1774. Seven years later, it would be one of only two buildings in downtown New London to survive the fires set in attack by Benedict Arnold after his turning. The other surviving building was Nathaniel Shaw’s mansion, also mentioned in Occom’s journals as place and personage to visit. That building also still stands, and houses today the New London County Historical Society, where I have been helped in my research saga. I should add picture of this other fine building where I’ve likely walked in Occom’s exact footsteps.


20180818_152932 Uncasville Norwich

Now, let’s go north a ways, to Mohegan.

In the Mohegan Church entry, there is a modern painting of Samson Occom–it echoes some details of the Nathaniel Smibert portrait.

20170326_103858 mod Occom painting copy

Perhaps the nicest hands ever painted for Occom!    –1997 painting by Douglas Henry

20170326_103920 mod Occom by Douglas Henry copy

And Crow Hill, with modern government and services building of the Mohegan Tribe.

20170407_154721 Crow Hill nation seal zoom copy

20170407_155335 Crow Hill gov't bldg copy


20180215_142716 copy

Then, about those spellings. Further travels have made me quite fond of the “Occum” spelling.

20170326_104731 Occum Ln big

20170326_105200 Occum Ln Martin Ct

20170326_111939 Occum Lisbon

20170326_104659 Occum Ln w MFD

…and, for Wally Lamb:


Recall just how much Rev. Occom travelled. His ambit is large, and inspires the story boxes incl. commissioned, poseable Occom doll and great stuff and stories, by Megan Fulopp (Brothertown).

Occum's ambit is large copy

Pursuing his ambit, when passing through Middletown, CT, the Rev. Occum was friendly with the Rev. Ebenezer Frothingham, Separatist, founder of South Congregational Church.

From Occom’s journals, 1774, beginning trip to Oneida land which would become Brothertown:

20200405_023856 E Froth in Occom Journal

I have my own connections in Ebenezer Frothingham’s South Church, often visited when traveling to town, like Occom, from New London County!

CAM00688 copy

CAM0068520180408_105517 ribbons So Chh

20180714_195644 SoChh rear window zoom

As noted in the journal entry above, after Middletown (Mattabessett), Occom and his brother-in-law David Fowler (Montaukett/Brothertown) went on to the “Indian Town” beside Farmington, homeland of the Tunxis people, in Occum’s time already a small village with mixture of residents from many other Connecticut Native groups and places. Although the English word “Farmington” is often used to describe the Native peoples who lived there, the original name lives on. I preferred this sign to the golf course’s. Place matters. Land use matters.

20180508_183616 TunxisCC

Sometimes Rev. Occom travels with me.
Sometimes as far as Wisconsin!

BINpicnic 2017 group pic copy
Sometimes, Rev. Occom travels with me.
Here we are back in Mattabessett, ready to share and present at the Middlesex County Historical Society, twice-in-a-row annual state-wide open house day mini-residencies:

20180609_101922 sun-dappled Occom&story box

20170610_104241 in MCHS set-up detailR


But, worlds turn upside down, things don’t always go as you planned, then, sometime, regardless of whether you’ve finished living your life, it ends.
In my program notes (“One Composer’s Notes”), I understate the musical brass quintet expression of Occom’s death with the line:
“Then, Occom walks on.”
but observe also:
“And he does walk on in the generations.”

sssshhhhhhhhh — follow me — listen, look, think of the generations…
“This is the land of Mundo (a sacred place); conduct yourself therefore accordingly.”

Back in Mohegan:

20180818_142423 Shantok land of Mundo copy

20180818_142527 Shantok burial ground copy

But, I didn’t get detailed in the Burial Ground…
…that’s not what time it was.

20180818_114444 Mohegan Wigwam Festival copy

Sometimes, following Occom’s footsteps means:

20180818_094940 copy powwow day

So many sevens! And so many stories– very special gifts from very special people here– including an Occom descendent (!?more than one possible!–wish I were more clear)

Just a brief paddle away, or overland and over the Yantic River, in Norwich, one may find the Royal Mohegan burial ground, much lost, but some remaining clustered around a venerable Uncas monument. One stone there in particular speaks in current context:

20160320_161609 Chas Bohema Occom descendent 1870

“Charles D. Bohema — great grandson of Rev. Samson Occum.” (that spelling…)

A few steps away, these flowers,
photo on March 20th in its year:

20160320_161217 copy Royal Mohegan spring flowers

Back in Mattabessett (Middletown),
a tale of remarkable serendipity on the historical society grounds.
Here we were, ready to share:

20180609_101846 MCHS table lay-out

when who should appear but a woman I’ve never met before, introducing herself as a Mohegan, a descendent of Joseph Johnson (Mohegan/Brothertown founder). A hero! Joseph Johnson died very young, and his wife stayed in Connecticut instead of migrating to the new Brothertown settlement on Oneida land in New York. But she was Tabitha Occom, daughter of Samson Occom and his wife Mary Fowler (Montaukett/Brothertown). Thus, Joseph Johnson and Tabitha descendents are also Samson Occum descendents.
I showered her with copies of my materials, and with tunes played on violin.
Here she is–her sprightly manner and motion belie a great age–so Mohegan!

20180609_134702 JJ + SO descendant

Then, time to pack up for travel again–
–so like Occom!

20180609_145229 copy the end

after re-stocking studio,
the Rev. Samson Occom story box resumes its elevated and ready place.

20180301_222922 GKaudio still


Thank you so much for sharing these walks with me and Rev. Occom!
I look forward to any time any of us may hear the music–
–spread the word with brass players you know!
Thanks!                                 — AGK


Author: whiteravenarchivesproject

musician, independent scholar, shape note singer, Brothertown Indian Nation cultural researcher and ally

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