The idea came for the NACAP program while I was a Composer-In-Residence at the Grand Canyon Music Festival as part of the “Continental Harmony” series of the American Composers Forum (ACF). I had been commissioned to compose a new work celebrating the location, and decided the best way to do that was to collaborate with the indigenous people of the canyon itself, the Havasupai. So, I hiked down into the canyon and met them, later collaborating with a Havasupai leader, Matthew Putesoy, on a new work that was featured as part of the ACF series. The work was titled “Guardians of the Grand Canyon,” honoring the Havasupai dancers of the same name. The musical work prompted high praise from a US Park Service administrator, who never imagined he’d get to see the Havasupai perform the ceremonial “ram dance” that was enacted within my musical composition.
As part of the GCMF activities, professional musicians would visit the elementary and middle schools around AZ, and perform for the students. I realized the students might be engaged further by participating in those presentations as originators rather than spectators. As a Native myself, I had started composing written works in high school—giving me the idea! So I approached the GCMF about visiting area high schools, engaging the older students, and recruiting would-be composers to create music to be performed by the professional musicians at the festival. With GCMF director Clare Hoffman agreeing to support the effort, the first NACAP was born. Today, the NACAP program has been going 15 years strong, and was recently featured by Performance Today (below). One of the students I taught at the first NACAP season was Michael Begay, who is now himself teaching in the program with Senior composer Raven Chacon. I’m very proud of Michael and his dedication!
In 2000, the Grand Canyon Music Festival teamed up with Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids and together developed the idea for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project, based on a similar program he developed in Minnesota. Rather than play for an audience, in 2001 Michael Davids drove to Tuba City to listen. (Performance Today)
This year in Wisconsin, several students completed the CANOE program, and are headed to their first rehearsals with the orchestra on Oct. 29 in Green Bay. Each composer will hear their work rehearsed by the Civic Symphony, with the added benefit of talking with conductor Seong-Kyung Graham and the orchestra musicians about their works. Once rehearsed, their compositions will receive world premiere performances by the orchestra at the historic Meyer Theater.
A preview published by Frankly Green Bay describes the exciting upcoming Civic Symphony concert, but misses the world premieres by the local student composers. The family concert will feature orchestra works that highlight animals in various ways, including a work about whales, about cats, and about a wolf. As it’s not an everyday occurrence to have world premieres by local student composers performed by an orchestra, I've listed their works below as well. Please note: an official press release from Civic Symphony is in-the-works that does include the CANOE program! If you can make it out, please support the Civic Symphony of Green Bay and our local composers. Come celebrate CANOE’s world premieres this November 4!
CONCERT II (Family Concert) — Nov 6, 2015
Meyer Theater — 7 PM
Civic Symphony of Green Bay
Seong-Kyung Graham, Conductor
Wisdom RD (CANOE world premiere)
by Lyndsey Agar
Volero (CANOE world premiere)
by Tatelyn Ferguson
The Journey of a Lifetime (CANOE world premiere)
by Rayna Kupsky
From Home (CANOE world premiere)
by Drew Payne
Chrysalis (CANOE world premiere)
by Shawn Stevens
Overture to Die Fledermaus
by Johan Strauss II
The Carnival of the Animals (selections)
by Camille Saint-Saens
by Mindaugas Piecaitis
And God Created Great Whales
by Alan Hovhaness
Peter and Wolf
by Sergei Prokofiev