National Museum of the American Indian Presents Third Annual Classical Native Series

October 24, 2008
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian announces the participants of the third annual Classical Native concert series, Tuesday, Nov. 4, through Tuesday, Nov. 11. The museum is honored to present a variety of Native classical music composers and performers. The concerts illustrate the musical partnerships that continue to be formed by Native musicians and composers and reflect how the museum strives to introduce new audiences to the world of classical music. Most programs are free and open to the public.

This year’s diverse programs highlight works for a string quartet by young Native composers, an inspiring program for school groups performed by violinist/storyteller Swil Kanim (Lummi) and the Washington, D.C., premiere of new work by composer/conductor Randall Craig Fleischer inspired by Native themes.

The 2008 series begins with a multimedia presentation of “Taagi Three Sides” held at Montgomery College Arts Institute. The program features the first all-Native chamber music trio: local composer/cellist/vocalist Dawn Avery (Mohawk), percussionist/vocalist Steven Alvarez (Yaqui/Mescalero Apache/Upper Tanana Athabaskan) and violinist Tara-Louise Montour (Mohawk). Composition of these new works was supported by an award from the museum’s Expressive Arts program. “Taagi Three Sides” will also be performed at the University of Maryland Friday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. and at the National Museum of the American Indian on Sunday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, and Friday, Nov. 7, at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. in the Rasmuson Theater, Swil Kanim (Lummi) offers an educational and entertaining program geared to young audiences through violin playing, storytelling and original compositions. Tickets required; visit or call (202) 633-8700.

Young classical guitarist and composer Emmanuel Gray (Navajo) and the all-female Ambrosia Quartet will perform works from young Native composers at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, in the Rasmuson Theater and again at 6 p.m. at Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Washington premiere of new work, “Echoes,” by Fleischer Saturday, Nov. 8, at 4 p.m. features a chamber orchestra along with Native singers and dancers. At 7:30 p.m., a recital featuring violin and piano compositions will be played by Native performers Montour and Timothy Long (Muskogee-Creek/Choctaw), respectively. Tickets required; visit or call (202) 633-3030. Concerts will be held in the Rasmuson Theater unless otherwise indicated.

The first film to feature an all-Native cast, “In the Land of the Headhunters” (1914), made by renowned photographer Edward Curtis, will be screened Sunday, Nov. 9, at the National Gallery of Art. The silent film will be accompanied by live music performed by The Coast Orchestra, an all-Native orchestra led and founded by violinist Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache).

The closing program of the series Tuesday, Nov. 11, presents a piano recital performed by Italian virtuoso Emanuele Arciuli, Raven Chacon (Navajo), Brent Michael Davids (Mohican), Barbara Croall (Odawa) and George Quincy (Choctaw); the program will also include Andrea Morricone’s “Penobscot Song of Greeting” and “Phrygian Gates,” by John Adams. Tickets required; visit or call (202) 633-3030.

The Classical Native concert series is supported in part by the First Nations Composer Initiative, an organization established in 2004 under the wing of the American Composers Forum, the Kennedy Center’s Performing Arts for Everyone, The National Gallery of Art, The Montgomery College Arts Institute, the University of Maryland Department of Ethnomusicology, the Chickasaw Nation, Rutgers University, The Smithsonian Associates, the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater and the American Museum of Natural History.

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Media Only

Eileen Maxwell

(202) 633-6615