Lakota Music Project
The Lakota Music Project (LMP), the flagship of the SDSO’s community engagement work, is an ongoing collaboration between the SDSO and the Lakota community. Initiated to address a history of racial tension, the LMP builds bridges between whites and Native Americans, advances cultural understanding, and creates an environment of openness through music. By treating the music of both cultures with dignity and respect, the LMP gives both groups ownership of the project, and creates an opportunity for dialogue in a non-threatening environment.
The original LMP concert program combines the talents of the South Dakota Symphony Chamber Orchestra and the Creekside Singers, a Lakota drumming group, in a side-by-side setting devised to promote a deeper understanding of these two different but coexisting cultures, and demonstrate the value of peaceful, positive collaboration. The first half of the program offers musical depictions that compare and contrast each culture’s treatment of experiences common to the human condition – love, war, grief, and celebration. On the second half of the program, the Lakota Music Project demonstrates the rewards of the two cultures working together through two commissions that were composed for chamber orchestra and Native American drumming group.
The project includes four original commissions – two by Jeffrey Paul, composer and Principal Oboist of the SDSO, one by Native American composer Brent Michael Davids, and one by Native American composer Jerod ‘Impichchaachaaha’ Tate.
Lakota Music Project History
- The creation of the LMP began in 2005 with an encounter between SDSO Music Director Delta David Gier and Barry LeBeau, a tribal government lobbyist for the United Sioux Tribes. Throughout the next three years, the two met with tribal leaders across the state to break down barriers, create trust, and lay the groundwork for the creation of a program that would help heal the divide between the cultures.
- Phase I of the project encompassed a May 2009 inaugural tour to three Indian reservations and two South Dakota communities.
- The program was performed at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Pierre, South Dakota in January of 2010, and at Crazy Horse Memorial on Native Americans’ Day in October 2010.
- Phase Two of the project began in 2012. It expanded both the programming and reach of the Lakota Music Project. Phase two had three primary components: a partnership with the South Dakota Humanities Council on the South Dakota tour of the Smithsonian’s New Harmonies project, a celebration of America’s roots music; a new commission by Jeff Paul for native flute and chamber orchestra; and a four-site tour which took the project to both three Native reservations and four South Dakota cities.
- In 2014, the SDSO returned to Crazy Horse Memorial and performed for the Native American Celebration on Native American Day.
- The Lakota Music Project was featured on the 2015-16 SDSO mainstage series in tandem with musicologist Joseph Horowitz’s “Dvorak and America” program supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The concert was performed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then toured to the Sisseton, South Dakota on the Lake Traverse Reservation in March of 2016.
- Phase Three of the LMP is currently under development