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The Lakota Music Project as a musical bridge for cultural understanding

The Lakota Music Project featuring Bryan Akipa on flute is seen performing "Pentatonic Fantasy" by Jeffrey Paul.
Courtesy photo
The Lakota Music Project featuring Bryan Akipa on flute is seen performing "Pentatonic Fantasy" by Jeffrey Paul.

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

South Dakota Symphony Orchestra's renowned Lakota Music Project has become a blueprint for orchestras and how they can partner with communities. Since the performances have typically been in school gymnasiums or at monuments such as Crazy Horse, the music has not been professionally recorded. Until now.

This weekend "Victory Songs" comes to the stage at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls. First time symphony-goers can secure free admission by calling ahead as part of the Crescendoprogram. The program is scheduled to be recorded.

The project has gained national attention and has built supportlocally since its inception. The work is far from over.

Maestro Delta David Gier says grant funding fuels the project on tour. He says the work the artists are doing is essential to understanding how cultures can connect personally and cross-pollinate artistically.

"One of the pieces I would love to commission is is a big work about Black Elk," Gier says. "And not just to do it about Black Elk, but to address the very things that we're trying to address in South Dakota now, which is education about the the history of South Dakota from the Native side. Not negating either side of the equation, but using a figure like Black Elk to teach and demonstrate through the music, through perhaps visuals and dancing and storytelling as well. Black Elk was a bridge in and of himself."

South Dakota Public Broadcasting brings certain SDSO performances to you via livestream via the SD.Net app and online at and Check the web schedule for further details.

We took four years to build this thing together with our Native Partners.
Maestro Delta David Gier

Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.