This piece was inspired by a book called The Flute Player, a simple and beautifully illustrated retelling of an Apache folktale by Michael Lacapa. It is the story of two young Apaches from different areas of a large canyon, where the streams ripple and the wind sings in the cottonwoods. They meet at a Hoop Dance, and dance only with each other. The next day, as the girl works up on the side of the canyon in her father's fields, the boy sits below by a stream and plays his flute for her (flute-playing was a common manner of courtship). She puts a leaf in the stream which flows down to him, so he knows she hears. This continues for a time, until the boy is woken one morning and told he is of age to join the hunt - a journey of some weeks, leaving momentarily. The girl still listens each day for the flute until, feeling abandoned, she falls ill and dies. When the boy returns, he runs to play for her - but there is no leaf. When he learns of her death, he disappears into the hills, and his flute still echos when the breezes blow through the cottonwoods, and the streams ripple in the canyon.
Leslie Gerber, Classical Pulse, Jan. 1997
...a heart-stoppingly beautiful piece: Kokopeli by Katherine Hoover, four and a half minutes of magic capturing Indian legend and the vast spaces of the Southwest.
When I was asked to join this unusual group commission using artwork from the Cedar Rapids Museum to inspire music, I chose Red Event by James Michael Smith to base my writing. I must admit I didn't study it all that carefully. The slide was so very small. I like the curved pattern in the fabric and how the red slash cut across the other aspects of the peace, a clear interruption.
I began with lines in both instruments that seemed to reflect the curves in the pattern; then, I did interrupt the work with a very different, darker gesture. As the piece proceeds, the gesture returns, but it is co-opted bit by bit and becomes part of the fabric of the piece. And it is true that as we look at a piece of visual art that contains a shock or surprise, over time, that element does become absorbed into our perception of the piece as a whole.
Long after my Caprice was finished, I had the slide developed into a 3' x 5' photograph. At this size, the piece takes on a more austere, even threatening quality. The patterns in the cloth are balanced by large, open spaces, the muted textures, and colors to the background, and the Red Event seems more violent. Someone could write a very different piece about it!
The flute and harp are both ancient and beautiful instruments, and their sounds complement each other in unique ways. In this piece I have explored some of these combinations. The first movement, "Entrata", is a light piece with shifting rhythms in both instruments; it quotes some children's tunes now and again. The second movement, "Adagio", is rather stark, with a measured ostinato in the harp and contrasting, rhythmically free gestures in the flute. These eventually come together in a slow melodic section. These two movements comprise the "Dances" of the title, for they are both involved with various kinds of motion, and I would love to see them choreographed at some time.
The third movement is a series of variations on a lovely tune written in 1759 by Francis Hopkinson, a Philadelphia lawyer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The song is called "My Days have been so wondrous free", with a poem by Thomas Parnell. The variations are rather "wondrous free" themselves, having been influenced as much by the words as by the melody, and moving far from the original, though returning for a straightforward rendition of the tune at the end.
David Williams, The Charleston Gazette
Hoover's new Dances and Variations for flute and harp proved to be both tightly reasoned and beautiful...The finale brimmed with warmth. Hoover built a nearly seamless flow that fought against the variation form's tendency to lurch along in fits of starting and stopping. Here each new variation seemed to blossom out of the last idea in the old.
Divertimento is, as its name implies, a light work, and one that was written with the enjoyment of the players much in mind. The musical sources are international - French, a touch of Russian, a bit of jazz. The fast section of the second movement has short "character" motifs for each instrument, which are sometimes played alone, sometimes mixed, rather like individual steps in an exuberant country dance.
Thomas Warner, American Music
Deserves a welcome place not only in the flute repertoire, but also in the history of American music.
William Glackin, The Sacramento Bee
The Divertimento for flute and string trio, by Katherine Hoover, gives the firm, engaging impression of an interesting mind at work in a light-hearted way - a bit like Ravel in that vein, only a few steps beyond him in time, harmonically speaking. All of it was clear, easy to follow and worth following.
Nathaniel H. Sperber, Musical America
Hoover's Divertimento for flute quartet, a well-structured composition, is both tonal and atonal. The work is both light, flowing, and pleasant; it has fine forward movement and is accented by tone clusters and by the percussive knocks of the bow-frog on the belly of the violin.
Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Katherine Hoover's Divertimento...is a work with tougher fiber, making the flute the leader of the quartet. Its tangy harmonic base gives the work an agreeable vigor.
Irene Brisson, Sonances
La Divertimento est rebondissant et possede la verve francais d'Ibert et des rythmes alla Bartok. Par son brio et son ecriture solide, il apporte a ce disque un brin de fantaisie et de virtuosite.
Hector Coda, La Nacion, Buenos Aires
El Divertimento para flautas y cuerdas de Katherine Hoover, es la obra de una compositora y una flautista talentosa, con una escritura instrumental fluida, de gran coherencia sonora y combinaciones armonicas y timbricas atrayentes, cuyo sesgo impresionista fue asumido con propiedad por los interpretes.