The drum was styled after a southwestern type of water drum, with a down-turned half gourd floating on the water surface, similar to those used by the Yaqui people. In the northeast, we use a water drum that is an up-turned bowl, that holds a small amount of water inside; a hide membrane is stretched tightly across to completely cover the opening. However, even though Mohicans are from the N.E., I decided to create a S.W. style drum for it's showy potential onstage.
I constructed a very large water drum resembling a turtle shell that could float on water. For the base, I overturned the plastic top of a gumball machine and set it on a cardboard tube. Inside the tube, I wired some lighting, which would shine upward into the clear bowl of water, illuminating the drum during the performances. It was a striking image, with the Kronos Quartet seated on all sides of the drum like around a campfire. Each musician had a long-reaching drum stick at their side, for moments when the string music required drumming.
Digging through old boxes recently, I found this stage pass allowing me access into the theater, along with a polaroid of the turtle water drum after its initial construction. I was living in Tempe, AZ, at that time having finished my masters degree a few years prior. But I flew to New York, and performed with my quartz flute on "Turtle People," my second string quartet, with the Kronos Quartet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in early 1995.
Also, I was proud to share the stage with Tan Dun, who was coordinating his new "Ghost Opera" also being performed by Kronos. At that time, Kronos members were David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Joan Jeanrenaud (cello). It seems odd that 20 years has passed by already, but it's entirely rewarding to anticipate a number of new string quartets being composed by CANOE participants from Bowler and Gresham high schools, and a fellow tribal citizen of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation.