" Education is not so much filling a bucket as lighting a fire." — William
"The program needs to continue if Native American
composers are to be heard. This program creates the perfect
environment for the musical growth of these talented students.
— Blair Quamahongnewa,
Hopi High School
"When we first walked into the
room we were a band of highly trained, slightly intimidating
classical musicians; after the reading we became a creative
tool that had to be shaped into what they (the students) heard
in their heads." — Andrew Bulbrook,
NACAP 2004 Quartet-in-Residence
Grand Canyon Music Festival has been dedicated to bringing the world’s
finest musicians to Grand Canyon National Park in celebration of
of this magnificent World Heritage site. Since 1985,
the Festival has extended this gift of music to the students
Arizona’s under-served and rural communities, primarily
at schools on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. In 2001,
the Festival initiated its Native American Composers
Apprentice Project (NACAP) to extend
its outreach to training talented Native
American students in the art of composition.
"The Grand Canyon Music Festival is
a great place to debut a person's song; the people at the festival
make you feel good."
— Kevin Poneoma, NACAP 2002 student
Hopi High School
"I want to see my
people out there in the world not just on the reservation, all
Natives. In music, you can change things, make people feel and
think." — NACAP
In 2001 no Native American composition students were enrolled in music conservatories. Only a handful of formally-educated Native American composers are working today.
NACAP addresses the root causes of
this scarcity of Native American voices on the American music scene: the
lack of quality — or, in too many cases, any — music programs
in schools; lack of role models; lack of access to cultural institutions;
and cultural biases.
Dufallo with NACAP student Krystin Tallsalt
was conceived in 2000 during the initial residency of composer
Brent Michael Davids at the Festival, where his
striking work “Guardians of the Grand Canyon” was
presented as part of the Continental Harmony Millennium Celebration.
The piece inspired Havasupai elder Rex Talusi to note that it was through this kind of collaboration, young Native Americans working with their traditions in new ways, that their culture would live on.
This sentiment inspired the Festival’s
Artistic Director, Clare Hoffman, and the composer,
to develop the Native American Composers Apprentice Project,
with the vision of creating a pool of young Native
NACAP develops musical literacy and enhances critical thinking
and decision making skills through the study of music composition.
It introduces students
to European "classical" music techniques, develops their understanding
of their own musical heritages and how to use that knowledge to develop
their own compositional voices. Native American students interested in
advanced study in any field face unique challenges to their aspirations. “Major
colleges… often view the talent on the reservations as a risky investment. … They
fear American Indians will ditch their scholarships once they get homesick.” The
New York Times, June 17, 2001. NACAP nurtures the musical talents
of Native American students, helps them prepare for music study at the
college and conservatory level, and gives them a window through which to
view and understand professional careers in music.
The Festival administers the Native American Composers Apprentice Project
(NACAP) with support from the National Endowment for the Arts; Target; Y.E.S.
for Diné Bikéyah; The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund; and
our partner schools through grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts with
funding from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts. Expansion
of NACAP to Whitehorse High School in Utah is funded in part by the Utah Division
of Arts & Museums and the National Endowment for the Arts. Expansion of NACAP
to Shiprock Associated Schools is funded in part by the New Mexico Arts Commission
and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Listen to "Music That Matters" Performance
Today's in-depth look at NACAP.
Canyon Music Festival’s
Native American Composers Apprentice Project
students') expressions of first wonder and then pride at hearing
their music were palpable." — Dr. Patricia
A. Shifferd, Director of Assessment, American Composers
Composer-in-Residence Raven Chacon (Navajo) works with high
school students selected for their interest and talent in music.
During a rigourous three week priod each student receives intense
one-on-one instruction from and interaction with the composer
on the art and technique of composition, from inspiration to
notation to performance. Subjects covered include comparative
discussion of western music theory and composition and oral
traditions of indigenous cultures, overview of western and native
instruments, music notation, orchestration, and artistic expression.
During the Grand Canyon Music Festival's September season, student
composers workshop their pieces with resident NACAP string quartets
and attend rehearsals and concerts.
Student compositions are premiered and recorded during the Grand Canyon Music Festival season, and are the focus of outreach to 10 Navajo and Hopi Reservation schools. Each of the young composers receives a portfolio of their NACAP work, including a professionally copied score and professionally recorded CD.
between cultures comes when there is a common goal. Students,
quartet, teachers, families, came together for a common goal,
the creation and presentation of new works." — Jerod
Impichchaachaaha' Tate, NACAP Composer-in-Residence, 2004-2005
In 2002, NACAP expanded its reach
to Maricopa County through partnerships with the Heard
to Scottsdale Community College in 2003, Salt
River High School
in 2004-05, and Chinle High School. In 2008, we welcome Whitehorse
High School on the Navajo Resevation. NACAP partner schools
have included Hopi High School, Monument
Valley High School
in Kayenta, Grey Hills Academy, Tuba
City High School, Chinle
High School, Tuba City Boarding School, Second
Mesa Day School,
Shonto Community School, First Mesa
Community School, Grand
Canyon School, Chilchinbeto Community School and the Flagstaff
Arts and Leadership Academy.
Above: Composer Raven Chacon works with
NACAP students at Chinle High School
Brent Michael Davids (Mohican Nation)
Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (Chickasaw)
Raven Chacon (Navajo)
Trevor Reed (Hopi)
Miró Quartet, 2001 NACAP Quartet-in-Residence Corigliano Quartet,
2002 NACAP Quartet-in-Residence
Avalon Quartet, 2003 NACAP Quartet-in-Residence
Calder Quartet, 2004 NACAP Quartet-in-Residence
ETHEL, 2005-Present NACAP Quartet-in-Residence
Catalyst Quartet, 2011-Present
NACAP Fellowship Quartet
in 2007, Grand Canyon School of Rock is a fast-paced, week-long
education program developed with Grand Canyon Music Festival musicians
Joe Deninzon and Chris Milletari that provides local high school
students the opportunity to experience all aspects of band life.
From intensive rehearsals and lessons focusing on rock and pop
music theory, techniques and styles, to the culminating
public performances, School of Rock students share in all aspects
of band life, from musicianship
to hauling gear, set-up, promotion, working sound and light boards,
and support of their band mates.
SoR students compose their own music, and arrange and interpret standards from
popular music genres. They are exposed to new music, are introduced to
music production, and develop their own performance skills as they learn
the discipline of ensemble performance and participation.
The Grand Canyon Music Festival administers Grand Canyon School of
Rock with support from Grand Canyon Unified School (Sharyl Allen, Superintendent,
Toby Melster, Principal, and Bentley Monk, music teacher) through a grant
from the Arizona Commission on the Arts with funding from the State of
Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts; The D’Addario Foundation,
Grand Canyon Rotary Club, and South Grand Canyon Sanitary District.
Photo © Mike Buchheit