The Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP) is an intensive music composition immersion program in which Native American composers tutor Native students on the Navajo, Hopi, & Salt River Pima-Maricopa Reservations in all aspects of composition from inspiration to notation. NACAP students’ works are presented at the Navajo Nation Museum, Scottsdale Community College, & Grand Canyon Music Festival (GCMF), & recorded by Central Sound at 8, Arizona’s NPR affiliate. Teaching ensembles have included ETHEL, The Catalyst, Calder and Miro Quartets, and Sweet Plantain.
2016 projects with the Arizona Opera and Heard Museum resulted in NACAP composers and students creating mini-operas with texts drawn from traditional stories and contemporary Native life, performed and recorded by Arizona Opera artists.
New. Since NACAP’s inception in 2001, a culture of composing has developed in the small, vibrant town of Tuba City on the Navajo Nation. Beginning in 2017, a pilot program will explore developing NACAP as a year-round program.
Outcomes. Native composers give back to their communities as teachers and mentors to students from rural Reservation communities. Native students participate in a complete composer experience, with intense one-on-one tutoring in composition & workshops with professional ensembles resulting in each student creating original works which are rehearsed, performed, recorded, and toured to the students’ communities.
7/1-8/31/17 INDIVIDUAL INSTRUCTION. Composers-in-residence with reservation student composers in a minimum of 4 two-hour private lessons & 2-hour group classes.
8/28-9/1/17 WORKSHOPS/TOUR. Students work one-on-one in workshops with ensembles-in-residence. Student works are performed at students’ schools, Navajo Museum, Scottsdale Community College.
9/3/17 NACAP at GCMF: Workshops with composers & ensembles, world premiere performance & recording of student works.
Fall 2017. Year-round pilot program begins in Tuba City.
Awards. The President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, the highest award given to youth programs; NewMusic USA New Music Educators Award; Governor’s Arts Award.
WHY: There aren’t enough Native voices in the American music mix. NACAP students’ authentic, vital voices need to be heard. NACAP provides them essential skills and outlets. NACAP communities are poor, under-served, rural. In 2001 Michael Begay was struggling to graduate high school. After participating in NACAP’s first season he said, “This experience changed my life.” Michael (Navajo) has gone on to study recording & compose music for independent films. In ’07, he joined NACAP as an assistant, receiving a grant from the American Composers Forum’s First Nations Composer Initiative. He has noted that people often comment that they didn’t know “Natives composed music.” He says, “NACAP gave me discipline, not just in writing music but overall. I come from a land that is beautiful & always shimmering with broken dreams, broken bottles.” NACAP students have been featured on “From the Top,” invited to the Songs Unlimited Festival in AK, & Fort Worth. NACAP students’ compositions have been performed on stages worldwide and aired on national radio programs.
Partner schools include Tuba City High, Grey Hills Academy, Chinle High School (Navajo Nation, AZ), Whitehorse High (Navajo Nation, Utah), Salt River High School, and the community organization NavajoYES.