Lakota Music Project

Lakota Music Project

Brent Michael Davids
Jeffrey Paul
Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate
Theodore Wiprud
South Dakota Symphony Orchestra
Delta David Gier
Creekside Singers
Bryan Akipa
Stephen L. Bryant
Catalog Number: 
#1 081
Release Date: 
Oct 28, 2022
1 CD
One Sheet: 

The Lakota Music Project is a program of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra. The Lakota Music Project addresses racial tension by creating an environment of openness through music. South Dakota has nine reservations and a long history of racial tension. Native American communities have faced the loss of cultural traditions, with many losing traditional native languages due to generations of criminalization from discriminatory laws and cultural erasure. At its foundation, Lakota Music Project is a practical demonstration of how music can advance cultural understanding. Lakota Music Project strives to lay a path for reconciliation by using music to break down barriers between cultures by exploring our cultural similarities, rather than focusing on their differences. 

Commissioned by the SDSO in 2009, Brent Michael Davids’ Black Hills Olowan honors the relationship between the Black Hills and the Lakota people. Integrating the traditional Lakota song “Heart Butte Special” into an orchestral texture, the work features the Creekside Singers, a Lakota drumming group from the Pine Ridge Reservation. In the concluding moments, the singers become the leading voice, driving the music to its rousing conclusion. Wind on Clear Lake was composed for the SDSO and Dakota flutist Bryan Akipa for the Lakota Music Project by SDSO principal oboist, Jeffrey Paul. In describing Clear Lake in South Dakota, Paul writes of its “deep spirituality,” and of sensing “with heightened awareness many generations of previous inhabitants.” The soundscape created suggests waves lapping at the shore, leaves rustling, wind chimes, distant thunder, and even the sound of an occasional frog or barn swallow. Victory Songs by Jerod Impichchachaaha’ Tate (sung in the Lakota language) is an orchestral rhapsody inspired by the writings of Charles Alexander Eastman and composed in honor of Lloyd Running Bear, Sr. and all Lakota Indian warriors. Each movement depicts a legendary Lakota warrior and his deeds. Jeffrey Paul originally composed Desert Wind on a pawn shop electric guitar, and he describes the work as both contemplative and as “a primal cry into the beautiful and endless open spaces of the natural world.” Theodore Wiprud was inspired by the discovery that Amazing Grace is a traditional song for Lakota drumming groups, and he created this orchestral arrangement while a composer-in-residence at SDSO. Wiprud writes, “Perhaps this work captures what we’re doing here—finding common ground as equals between two long musical traditions.” 

Of utmost importance, SDSO works with native American musicians to create a Lakota Music Project performance. It is built by the artists working together collaboratively, which requires open communication, trust, and a genuine appreciation for each other’s art forms. A Lakota Music Project live concert features South Dakota Symphony musicians and native American musicians from South Dakota tribes each performing the music of their heritages as well as unique repertoire commissioned for all of them to play together. 


All music in this album are original compositions which have been included in Lakota Music Project 



Lakota Music Project is wonderfully varied, including dissonant and dense modernism, quiet lyricism, contemporary pieces with extended techniques, traditional Lakota drumming groups, and so many other styles in between." [FULL ARTICLE] - Sofía Rocha


"The whole album is fascinating, and highly recommended" [FULL ARTICLE]


"This highly creative project is a stunning combination of material composed by six gifted Indigenous Americans of the Lakota Sioux nation featuring the eminent South Dakota Symphony under the musical direction of Delta David Gier. The Lakota Project is a brilliantly constructed collection of music specifically written and designed to dissolve the walls between the Lakota peoples and their horrific history of abuse and near genocide at the hands of European settlers. The music itself was created in an atmosphere of trust and open communication and is a pure, resplendent boon to the process of reconciliation."


"It introduces a wonderful and very different world of music, one I enjoyed immensely. This release demonstrates that projects of this nature can, when approached with intellectual rigor and truly open minds, result in innovative and attractive music."