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South Dakota Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Washington, D.C. Residency of the Lakota Music Project with local send-off performance October 15, 2019

The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) and Music Director Delta David Gier will present its renowned Lakota Music Project in Washington D.C. October 16 – 21, 2019. Ahead of the residency, the SDSO will perform its program in Sioux Falls, SD, in a special send-off performance on Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30pm in the Visual Arts Center of the Washington Pavilion.  The performance is free and open to the public. The SDSO will also perform for the students of Whittier Middle School in a private performance scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, October 15.

The October 15 performances features the Dakota String Quartet, Dakota Wind Quintet and the Lakota Music Project performing pieces written by composers Jeffrey Paul, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, Theodore Wiprud, Bryan Akipa, and short works written by Native American students of the SDSO music composition academies.

The Washington D.C. residency October 16 – 21 features two Native American Music Award winning artists: singer Emmanuel Black Bear (Oglala Lakota) and cedar flutist Bryan Akipa (Sisseton-Wahpeton), who are joined by SDSO musicians, professor emeritus of American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University Ronnie Theisz, and Lakota elder Chris Eagle Hawk. With Gier, they will all represent the South Dakota Symphony and the Lakota Music Project as musical ambassadors for the state of South Dakota.

This is the first time SDSO musicians and the Lakota Music Project have performed outside of South Dakota. The residency includes a series of concerts featuring the Dakota String Quartet, Dakota Wind Quintet, and the two combined as the Lakota Music Project.

“2019 is the ten-year anniversary of the first tour of the Lakota Music Project,” says SDSO Music Director Delta David Gier. “We have seen the relationship between our SDSO musicians and our Lakota and Dakota partners deepen during our years of working together. We have grown beyond understanding to a genuine love and respect for each other. The power of sharing this with audiences, across different cultures, is palpable and enduring. We are showing a way forward, and not only between Native and non-Native; we are demonstrating cross-cultural relations for everyone. It is a privilege for all of us to be a part of this project.”

About the Lakota Music Project, Native American Music Award winner Emmanuel Black Bear says, “Being a part of the Lakota Music Project and the Creekside singers brings a lot of honor to our families. Utilizing our traditional songs with orchestra is not something they would normally see. Where we come from [reservation], people consider us a third world, lots of hopelessness. With the Lakota Music Project, we can share our way of life, our traditional ways which bring us together, and offer hope through the music. Racial issues exist because of ignorance and not knowing. By showing our way of life, they will understand who we are as a people. We sing a lot of old songs, and so does the orchestra. You know, no matter what race you are…it’s the music.”

For more information on the SDSO’s Lakota Music Project Send-Off Concert, and for a look at the entire Washington D.C. Residency, visit

About the Lakota Music Project

The Lakota Music Project was created between 2005 and 2008 through a collaboration between the SDSO and leaders of the Lakota community. “It is a practical demonstration between white and Native American musicians to advance cultural understanding,” explains Delta David Gier. The Lakota Music Project strives to create an environment of openness through the fusion and collaborative performance of music of both cultures. The first Lakota Music Project programs included music written for the full symphony orchestra and the Creekside Singers (a Lakota drumming group). The repertoire has expanded over the last ten years to include cedar flute, solo Lakota singer and hand drum collaborating with full and chamber orchestra, string quartet and wind quintet.