In 2011, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Maza Kute Singers (Dakota) and Composer Brent Michael Davids toured together with other world-renown performers for 4 concerts! This is the official Dakota Music Tour blog!


In 2011, Maestro Ken Freed conducted Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Maza Kute Singers (Santee Dakota), Trumpeter Manny Laureano (Minnesota Orchestra), M. Cochise Anderson (Chickasaw/Choctaw) and Award-Winning Composer Brent Michael Davids (Stockbridge Mohican) on tour through Dakota country with 4 concerts merging American Indian and Western classical music. The DMT was filmed by Syd Beane (Flandreau Santee Dakota) for some promo videos. The DMT radio broadcast was recorded by James E Gullickson. The DMT publicist was Liz Hill (Red Lake Ojibwe) of Liz Hill Public Relations, Ltd. The DMT evaluator was Dr. Patricia Shifferd. DMT was supported by “Arts Tour Minnesota" and the voter-approved “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment” of the Minnesota State Constitution.


DMT Composer — When American composers are described as “native” the definition is not usually as accurate as when applied to Brent Michael Davids, an American Indian and enrolled citizen of the Mohican Nation. He has consciously and deliberately focused on his indigenous heritage, honoring its unique qualities in a contemporary setting. He blends Eurocentric techniques of classical music with Native musical traditions in a way that is never glib or facile, but rich in resonance.

Davids’ composer career spans 41 years, including awards from ASCAP, NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, In-Vision, Joffrey Ballet, Chanticleer, Kronos Quartet, Meet-The-Composer, Miró Quartet, National Symphony Orchestra, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation, among others. Performed in Lakota tribal communities and several SD cities, Davids’s “Black Hills Olowan” was featured in 2009 by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the famed Porcupine Singers on a SDPB-TV network special. Davids’ work, Powwow Symphony (for Powwow M.C. and Orchestra), was premiered by New Mexico Symphony (1999) and Phoenix Symphony (2002) to rave reviews. Commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra, his Canyon Sunrise (1996) premiered at the Kennedy Center to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center and the 60th Anniversary of the NSO. Garrison Keillor asked Davids for an orchestra work, Prayer & Celebration (2005), that premiered on “A Prairie Home Companion” show in Indiana. Davids has also been commissioned by Grammy Award-winning Chanticleer, for Night Chant (1997), Mohican Soup (1999), and Un-Covered Wagon (2003). In 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts named Davids among the nation’s most celebrated choral composers in its project “American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius,” supporting festivals and tours in all 50 states. As one of only 29 composers listed by the NEA, Davids was selected along with Leonard Bernstein, Harry T. Burleigh, Stephen Foster, Libby Larsen, Chen Yi, and others.

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 in 2003 apprenticed with film composer Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare In Love) on the TV-Miniseries Dreamkeeper (Hallmark and ABC). 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-pending). Davids has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS and NAPT. Davids’ film scores include: The 1920 Classic Myth: Last of the Mohicans (2003), World of American Indian Dance (2003), The Business of Fancy Dancing (2002), The Silent Enemy (1996) & Bright Circle (2006).

Most of Davids’ works employ traditional Native American instruments and often instruments of his own design, including a soprano quartz crystal flute (1989), bass quartz crystal flute (1991), and a dozen other percussion devices that chirp in the air on strings, or whistle when dunked into water. Many of his bowl-shaped devices and resonating drums can be bowed, shaken, or tapped. With an expert hand, he fashions ink manuscripts that are themselves visual works of art, visually beautiful manuscripts that are performable as written sheet music. He has worked extensively in the choral field as well, often featured as a clinician for conventions, such as his work with Chanticleer at the 6th Annual World Choral Symposium held in Minneapolis (2003). His work for 200-voice chorus and orchestra, We the People (2004), honors the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. with the names of all the American Indian nations sung back to back, without repeats, for 30 minutes.

As an Educator, Davids founded the Native American Composer Apprentice Program (NACAP) in Arizona (2000), and the Composer Apprentice National Outreach Endeavor (CANOE) in Minnesota (2005), to teach Native youth to compose their own written concert music. Under these programs, over 100 students have successfully written music scores for string quartets and other instrumental ensembles; and, many of these students did so without the ability to read music prior to Davids’ innovative curriculum. Dedicated to education, Davids founded a new organization in 2004, the First Nations Composer Initiative (FNCI.org), as a virtual chapter of the American Composers Forum, and served as its first Artistic Advisor (2005). Today, with support from many funding organizations including the Ford Foundation, FNCI operates with a 12-member advisory board of leading Native American composers and performers, and has initiated additional composer programs and educational residencies in several communities in Minnesota, Maryland, Colorado, South Dakota, Wisconsin and California.

Davids is widely regarded as an American Indian music specialist in all geographic culture areas of North America, and he is schooled in American Indian Religious Studies at the Masters degree level. He is remarkable as a professional Source Music Director for projects involving American Indian singers, drummers, flutists, solo artists and contemporary bands. Davids began composition studies at the early age of 16, and upon graduating with his Bachelor’s degree, accepted a position as Composer-In-Residence at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. Twenty-three at that time, he was teaching and mentoring students only a few years younger than himself. Thirty-one years later, Davids has become highly successful as a professional composer of both concert music and film scores, and remains one of the country’s most sought after composers.