The following post was written by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, a 2017 Paul R. Judy Center Grant Recipient.
“The world of Symphonic Classical Music needs new voices, we need to hear what’s in the minds of young people today to refresh our music and continue its evolution… This has been a great opportunity to reach into the minds of young Lakota students to find out what kind of music they imagine, what’s important to them, what’s going on in their minds and in their lives.” – Ted Wiprud, Composer-in-Residence
The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) and Composer-in-Residence Ted Wiprud hosted 18 participants in two Music Composition Academies as a part of the SDSO’s Lakota Music Project. The academies engaged students in creative expression through music with daily music composition lessons and activities emphasizing cultural understanding and finding human commonalities. Each student worked to compose a piece for either string quartet or woodwind quintet. Participants of the Music Composition Academies were a mix of high school students and adults working under the mentorship of Wiprud and his colleagues to refine their composing skills and learn to orchestrate for chamber ensembles. Many of these students are first time composers. After working one-on-one with Wiprud and the professional musicians of the Dakota Wind Quintet and the Dakota String Quartet, each participant finished the program with a completed musical composition to be played in their community and school.
“We definitely saw kids this summer progress in just five days from being very inner, avoiding eye contact, not participating in group events to actually writing the most beautiful pieces because they have the most urgency…By the end of that time they are confidently rehearsing with musicians, telling the musicians exactly how their piece has to be, they are confidently talking to audiences expressing what they feel comfortable expressing about what their piece means to them. It’s an impact unlike any I have seen in music education.” – Ted Wiprud, Composer-in-Residence
Baylie HerManyHorses created a piece titled “Human Error: A Story of Corruption” in which she clues into elements of her Native heritage and also her understanding of life. Baylie’s piece begins with the creation of life and then as the piece progresses different elements corrupt the beauty and innocence of life. She explains that the clarinet represents humans and the damage they can cause. Baylie said, “I wanted to make something beautiful and eerie because I think that’s just how life is, it can be really pretty and it can be really bad and scary so I wanted to make something to represent that.” To listen to Baylie’s piece and the other pieces from the SDSO’s West River Music Composition Academies visit https://www.facebook.com/SoDakPB/videos/349868858888302/.
The Lakota Music Project is a long-term collaborative program in partnership between the SDSO and the Native American Community in South Dakota. It seeks to build tangible bridges between White and Native communities by finding points of common interest and experience. At every turn, this project strives to bring White and Native communities together through shared experience in music.
The SOUTH DAKOTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is based in Sioux Falls, SD, a vibrant and growing community serving a 125-mile region that touches 5 states. Known for innovative programming and state-wide outreach, the SDSO has a strong heritage upon which to build an even stronger future. SDSO was the 2016 winner of the Bush Prize for Community Innovation. The Bush Prize recognizes organizations for their innovative work in community engagement. In addition, the SDSO was selected as 1 of 5 orchestras in the country to participate in a three-year composer residency through New Music USA which brings Ted Wiprud, former VP of Education at the New York Philharmonic, to the SDSO through 2019. The SDSO is the region’s premiere performing arts organization with the Washington Pavilion as its home. Artistically, the SDSO is led by Maestro Delta David Gier who has guided the orchestra to new musical heights.
The composer residency of Ted Wiprud is made possible through Music Alive, a residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. This national program is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their work with composers and new music, capitalizing on the power of composers and their creativity to build new paths for orchestras to heighten their relevancy and deepen their relationships with their communities. Major funding for Music Alive comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from The Aaron Copland Fund of Music, The Amphion Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
This project was supported by a grant from the Paul R. Judy Center for Innovation & Research as well as support from the Bush Foundation, the South Dakota Community Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and generous individual donors.