Brent Michael Davids

Bush Foundation Fellow

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 36 years, including awards from the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, ASCAP, Emmy, National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, In-Vision, Joffrey Ballet, Park City Film Music Festival, Kronos Quartet, School for Advanced Research, Chanticleer, Meet-The-Composer, Miró Quartet, National Symphony Orchestra, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation, among others. In 2011, the "Dakota Music Tour" featured a full concert of Davids' orchestra works, performed by the Mankato Symphony with the Dakota drum group Maza Kute, on a tour to Dakota communities in MN. The tour was filmed for TV broadcast in the following year. Davids was featured in 2009 by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the famed Porcupine Singers on a SDPB-TV network special, following a road trip of his "Black Hills Olowan" performed in Lakota tribal communities across South Dakota.

Davids' work, "Powwow Symphony (for Powwow M.C. and Orchestra)", was premiered by New Mexico Symphony (1999), Phoenix Symphony (2002), and Mankato Symphony (2011) 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 the orchestra work, "Prayer & Celebration" (2005), that premiered on "A Prairie Home Companion" show. Davids has also been commissioned by Grammy Award-winning Chanticleer, for "Night Chant" (1997), "Mohican Soup" (1999), "Un-Covered Wagon" (2003), and "Leather Stocking" (2012).

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," along with Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Foster, and 25 others. In 2011, Davids was invited to conduct a month-long tour of Russia, lecturing and performing in Khabarovsk, Birobidjan, Vladivostok and Moscow under an award from the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission of the American Seasons in Russia program.

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). 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). In 2011, 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." Davids has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, and NAPT. Davids' film scores include: "Valor's Kids (2011), Opal (2011), Raccoon & Crawfish (2007), The 1920 Last of the Mohicans (2003), World of American Indian Dance (2003), The Business of Fancy Dancing (2002), The Silent Enemy (1996) & Bright Circle (2006).