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South Dakota Native American students will hear original works played

MINNEAPOLIS | A composing boot camp is allowing teens and adults from a South Dakota Native American reservation who may never have written a piece of music before to hear their original compositions performed by professional musicians.

Eight students and adults from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe and nearby community teamed up with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra as part of the Lakota Music Project, aimed at building relationships between Native American and white communities. Two ensembles will perform the works at free concerts today and Friday in Sisseton and on the reservation, which covers northeastern South Dakota and part of southeastern North Dakota.

"It's good music, very good music," said composer-in-residence Jerod Tate, 49, a Chickasaw from Oklahoma. "I'm so inspired by the composer in them."

The only requirement, Tate said, is that students must know how to play an instrument. "You can't write poetry until you know how to write the letters," he said.

Although the program is focused on young Native Americans, Tate said it also includes non-Natives. And even within the Native community, the program helps build bridges as it did for aspiring composers who took part in a recent similar program on the Pine Ridge Reservation, he said.

"They're all composing next to each other," Tate said.

In the Black Hills last weekend, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra’s Dakota Wind Quintet gave performances featuring the compositions of six Native American students from area schools, including Rapid City Central, Pine Ridge and Oelrichs high schools. 

The music composition academies include daily lessons in composing and activities emphasizing cultural understanding. The academies were made possible by the Bush Prize for Community Innovation, given by the St. Paul, Minnesota-based Bush Foundation, and New Music USA's "Music Alive" program, which selected the Sioux Falls-based South Dakota Symphony Orchestra to participate in the national three-year residency program.

"It invests in the students themselves, teaching them new skills and building their self-esteem," orchestra music director Delta David Gier said in a news release.

Garrett Lawrence, 18, who plays baritone and piano and is in the Sisseton High School band, is among those who will hear their works debut this week. His father, Derrick Lawrence, a Dakota from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and IT director for the tribal college, and 16-year-old sister, Alannah, also are having original compositions performed.

Garrett said he did not know how to write a single piece of music when he started the program. It took him six days to learn how to write a piece.

Garrett's two-minute piece, "The Unforgiveable River," which will be performed by a woodwind quintet, has "a soft flow to it, kind of like a river," he said, "and eventually turns into a raging river." He said he already has started writing another piece and is looking at studying music education in college.

"I learned that there's more to writing music, writing a piece, than just sound," he said. "You really have to put in emotion."

Chambers, James

RAPID CITY | James Chambers, 63, died Sept. 12, 2017.

Kirk Funeral Home

Christensen, Hans J.

KYLE | Hans James Christensen, 33, died Sept. 12, 2017.

Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge

Fish, George E.

RAPID CITY | George E. Fish, 80, died Sept. 12, 2017.

Kirk Funeral Home

Foss, Coe W.

RAPID CITY | Coe Wilbur Foss, 65, died Sept. 12, 2017.

Services at 10 a.m., Sept. 16, at Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home.

Garrett, Carla

RAPID CITY | Carla Garrett, 74, died Sept. 3, 2017.

Services at 11 a.m. Sept. 15 at the Landmark Hall in Eagle Butte. Burial at Mossman Cemetery in Ridgeview.

Kirk Funeral Home

Haan, Dennis L.

RAPID CITY | Dennis L. Haan, 67, died Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at his home.

A memorial visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home.

A Celebration of Life memorial service will follow immediately at 7 p.m. at the funeral home.

Dennis was born on June 18, 1950, to Kenneth L. and Mildred “Millie” (Olson) Haan in Sioux Falls, SD.

He graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls in 1968 and received his Bachelor's Degree in Business from Black Hills State College in Spearfish, SD, in 1973.

Dennis started Wyoming Resources Corporation, a drilling and exploration company, in 1981, in the basement of his house. He operated the corporation until his death.

Dennis married the love of his life, Cate Strand, in Feb. of 2001 in Reno, NV. They shared a love for hunting, traveling to conventions, farming their hunting land in Chamberlain, rodeos, and watching TV and movies together.

One of Dennis’ proudest accomplishments was completing his Grand Slam of North American Wild Sheep. He so enjoyed being outside in the quiet of the wilderness. Dennis was an avid golfer and member of Arrowhead Country Club the majority of his life. He also enjoyed fishing, hiking, hunting all types of game, his work, his friends and snow skiing in his younger years.

Survivors include his wife, Cate, Rapid City; his son, Travis (Megan Baum) Haan, Rapid City; his two daughters Terra (Ty) Pivonka, Rapid City and Trisha (Greg) Rieffenberger, Watertown; his two stepsons, Kelly Strand, Barrett, MN, and Jason (Jodi) Strand, Herman, MN; his grandchildren, Trask, Tennasyn and Turner Pivonka, Gabriella, Madelyn and Ryder Rieffenberger, Paige and Harley Strand and Landon and Levin Strand; two great-grandchildren, Ryker Jones and KoraLee Heins; and his sister, Nancy (Larry) Parsons, Chancellor, SD.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ken and Millie Haan.

Langer, Mariann

HOT SPRINGS | Mariann Langer, 83, died Sept. 12, 2017.

Services at 2 p.m. Sept. 16, at Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home. Burial at the Buffalo Gap Cemetery.

Linn, Sharon G.

GILLETTE, WYO. | Sharon G. Linn, 72, died Sept. 12, 2017.

Services at 11 a.m. Sept. 15, at the Grace Bible Church.

Walker Funeral Home

Rowland, Gene E.

MURRAY, UTAH | Gene Edgar Rowland, 29, died Sept. 8, 2017.

Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge

Tuttle, Elise

OSCODA, MICH. | Elsie Tuttle, 11 months, died Sept. 11, 2017.

Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge

Whirlwind Horse, Wilma A.

KYLE | Wilma Ann Whirlwind Horse, 53, died Sept. 11, 2017.

Visitation begins at 6 p.m. Sept. 17, at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church Hall.

Services at 10 a.m. Sept. 18, at the hall. 

Sioux Funeral Home