Skip to main content Skip to footer

Lakota Music Project

Phase III: 2017-2019

While Phases I and II were broad, canvassing as much of the state and as many reservations as possible, the emphasis for Phase III was in-depth service through education and cross-cultural activities with communities who demonstrated capacity for a longer, deeper relationship with the Lakota Music Project (LMP.) The City of Sisseton enthusiastically agreed to be a LMP partner and was chosen due to the commitment, enthusiasm, and leadership they displayed in Phase I and II of the LMP. Black Hills State University emerged as the ideal location, along with Sisseton, for the Music Composition Academies established in 2017. Phase III saw a new LMP concert program premiered in March 2019 at the Multi-Cultural Center in Sioux Falls and a chamber ensemble version of the LMP which will perform in Washington DC in October 2019.


The three initiatives of Phase III include:


1. Lakota Music Project Chamber Ensemble programs

The LMP performed a newly designed chamber music program in a series of concerts in Washington DC in October 2019 for nine musicians from the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and two Native American Music Award winning artists: singer Emanuel Blackbear (Lakota) and cedar flutist Bryan Akipa (Dakota). These LMP performances featured chamber ensemble arrangements of music written for the LMP by Jeffrey Paul and Bryan Akipa and facilitated conversations about classical music inspired and performed by Native Americans. The performances also included professor emeritus of American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University, Ronnie Theisz, and Lakota elder Chris Eagle Hawk as storytellers. Led by Music Director Delta David Gier, this group represented the South Dakota Symphony and the Lakota Music Project as musical ambassadors for the state of South Dakota.

The Washington, D.C. performances were at the National Cathedral as part of the Post-Classical Ensemble’s Native American Festival: From Spillville to Pine Ridge and at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.


2. Music Composition Academies

The Music Composition Academies were created by Jerod Tate in 2017, then the SDSO’s composer-in-residence, and continued in 2018 and 2019 by composer-in-residence Ted Wiprud. The Academies are week-long intensive composition summer camps – one East River (in Sisseton) and one West River (at Black Hills State University) in South Dakota. Students spend one week working with a team of three composer/teachers, individually and as a group, to create their own composition for either string quartet or woodwind quintet. Following the academy sessions, the SDSO string quartet and woodwind quintet rehearses each new composition with the student composers, and performs the works multiple times in Sisseton, Rapid City, Pine Ridge and Sioux Falls.


3. Creation of a new collaborative LMP program based on Lakota and white cultural heroes

Premiered in March 2019 at the Multi-Cultural Center in Sioux Falls, the chamber orchestra version of Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s Lakota song cycle, Waktegli Olowan, (originally premiered in Phase II) serves as the centerpiece for this new Lakota Music Project program. Waktegli Olowan honors five Lakota Warriors – Red Cloud, Gall, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and Two-Strike. The SDSO worked closely with Dr. Ronnie Theisz (Lakota Music Scholar) and Chris Eagle Hawk (Pine Ridge tribal elder) to create this LMP program focusing on leadership and exploring the impact of elders and mentors in Lakota, Dakota and American culture. This program featured the Creekside Singers and baritone Stephen Bryant.