Idyllwild audiences will have the opportunity to hear one of the foremost Native American musicians, and concert and film composers of the 21st Century. The National Endowment for the Arts named Brent Michael Davids one of the 29 pre-eminent American choral composers for its national “American Masterpiece: Three Centuries of American Artistic Genius,” along with notables Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Foster and Chen Yi.
Davids will perform his own compositions as part of the Native Arts Week at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. It’s the first time this famed flautist has been to Idyllwild. He’s a member of the Stockbridge Mohican Nation of American Indians and fuses his indigenous musical traditions with classical music.
Davids, whose Mohican name is Blue Butterfly, will share his music with the public July 15. First on the program is a string quartet playing the “Last of the Mohicans” musical score to the backdrop of a 20-minute film version. Davids explained there have been numerous films made based on James Fennimore Cooper’s famous book, but the 1920s movie starring Wallace Berry is the only one recognized by the Library of Congress as the most faithful to the story.
Turning the tables, Davids wrote the story and music for “The Last of James Fennimore Cooper.” His main character is J.F. Cooper who meets a Snow Monster from an old Mohican tale. This entertaining spoof is performed by the string quartet with Blue Butterfly as the narrator.
This past week, he worked with four high school students from three local native groups, the Cahuilla, Aqua Caliente and San Jacinto. Each student will compose a classical piece to be played by the string orchestra during the Friday performance. Davids will play a Native American flutes he designed.
Recently he won a Silver Medal at the Film Music Festival in Park City, Utah, for which he is very proud. He composed the score for an animated feature length film, “Valor’s Kids.”
The Cahuilla Bird Singers and dancers will open the program at 7 p.m., Friday, July 15, Stephens Recital Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Brent Michael Davids and Ensemble will follow. The performance is free and open to the public. Call (951) 659-2171 ext. 2365 for more information.