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Brent Michael Davids

Bowler, WI         

PROFILE

Brent Michael Davids is a professional concert and film composer, co-director of the Lenape Center in Manhattan, and an American Indian citizen of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation. As an American Indian Music Specialist, Davids is in demand as an Educator and Consultant for Films, Television, Schools, Festivals, Seminars and Workshops. Davids’ composer career spans 43 years, with multiple awards, and he actively serves on the Executive Council of the Institute for Composer Diversity. Master performer of American Indian instruments and styles. Designer of original music instruments.

Brent Michael Davids has received awards from ASCAP, National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, Emmy Awards, US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, Joffrey Ballet, Park City Film Music Festival, Kronos Quartet, National Museum of the American Indian, School for Advanced Research, Chanticleer, Meet-The-Composer, Miró Quartet, National Symphony Orchestra, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from prestigious Indian Summer Festival.

Davids holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Composition from Northern Illinois University (1981) and Arizona State University (1992), respectively, trained at Redford’s Sundance Institute (1998), and apprenticed with Oscar-Winning film composer Stephen Warbeck (“Shakespeare In Love”) (2003). He has garnered the Distinguished Alumni Awards from both of the universities he attended, NIU (1996) and ASU (2004), and has been nominated for the prestigious CalArts Alpert Award two times (1995, 2006).

Dedicated to education, Davids founded a new organization in 2004, the First Nations Composer Initiative, as a virtual chapter of the American Composers Forum, and served as Artistic Advisor in its first year. FNCI sponsored re-granting programs for composers, and initiated additional composer programs and educational residencies in several communities in MN, MD, CO, SD, WI and CA.

Davids founded the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP) in Arizona (2000), and the Composer Apprentice National Outreach Endeavor (CANOE) in Minnesota (2005) and Wisconsin (2015), to teach Native youth to compose written music. Under these programs, 200 students have successfully composed for string quartets; and, many of these students did so without the ability to read music prior to Davids’ innovative curriculum. The Wisconsin CANOE program (2015) is coordinated with the Civic Symphony of Green Bay, where area students are composing works for full orchestra.

Many of Davids’ compositions employ traditional Native American instruments and instruments of his own design, including a soprano quartz crystal flute (1989), a bass quartz crystal flute (1991), and many other percussion devices that chirp or whistle. With an expert hand, Davids has fashioned inked manuscripts that are themselves visual works of art and performable sheet music.

As a film score composer, Davids won a Silver Medal for “Excellence in Original Scoring” from the Park City Film Music Festival for his orchestral score to the animated feature “Valor’s Kids” (2011), and “Best Original Music” from the N.A. Film Festival of the Southeast for his orchestral score to “Iroquois Creation Story” (2015). Davids has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, and NAPT.

The NEA named Davids among the nation’s most celebrated choral composers in its project “American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius,” along with Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Foster and 25 other composers (2006). Among his current projects, Davids is composing “Requiem For America” for s.a.t.b. soloists, s.a.t.b. chorus, Native American singers, Native American flute, and full orchestra (2017).

BY OUR NATURE

The Mankato Symphony Orchestra performed my original score to a Robin Rupe film (Volti Subito Productions) “By Our Nature” in studio, 2014. Conducted by Kenneth Freed, the work featured singer Dakota Romero, and the composer on Native American wood flute. — BMD

Video Copyright ©2014, Robin Rupe. All Rights Reserved.
Music Copyright ©2014, Brent Michael Davids. All Rights Reserved.

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SINGING WOODS — Kronos Quartet

SINGING WOODS (excerpt) was commissioned and performed by the Kronos Quartet. Music by Brent Michael Davids. Uses an Apache violin, special percussion instruments, and hand-made bows of leather, silk and velvet. The title voices a triple meaning: the instruments of the Kronos, the Apache violin, and the indigenous forests of Native America. A beautifully hand-notated manuscript, the score draws from American Indian sound patterns evocative of nature, by using extended instrumental techniques and microtones that add coloristic dimensions.

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UN-COVERED WAGON — Chanticleer

UN-COVERED WAGON (excerpt) was commissioned and performed by Chanticleer, for chorus and nose flutes. Uses Mohican language and American Indian “vocables.” A musical response to the epic western film ‘The Covered Wagon,’ uncovering an alternate view of the land and its inhabitants. The work calls for three different Indian singing styles to be superimposed upon each other. “Un-Covered Wagon,” as music and message, urges us to cherish the seasoned and intelligent tradition of keeping good familial relationships with the earth.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles November 21 2019 | By Brent Michael Davids
Cultural Appropriation in Classical Music?

Though it seems ironic, acultural neutrality is a narrative the West has culturally taught itself. Minute cultural awarenesses break through sometimes, but often the positive changes we are desperate for...