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Meramec Presents “Symphony Chaco: A Journey of the Spirit”

April 21, 2016

R. Carlos Nakai  
R. Carlos Nakai

The Meramec Symphonic Band, Orchestra and Choir will join Grammy-nominated guest artist R. Carlos Nakai in the premiere of a new work, “Symphony Chaco: A Journey of the Spirit,” at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 8, in the theater on campus, 11333 Big Bend Road.

This performance will include narration, projected images, photography, artwork and pottery.

The symphony, by conductor and Meramec music professor Gary Gackstatter, is about Chaco Canyon, N.M., where, a thousand years ago, the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Tribes undertook a massive construction project, building 14 “Great Houses,” some five stories high and containing hundreds of rooms. These building are all aligned with the solar and lunar patterns. Upon completion of Chaco, the inhabitants abandoned the sites and moved on to build more than 200 buildings in the Four Corners area, including Mesa Verde and Chimney Rock.

Workshops, films and lectures will take place at Meramec in the days leading up to the symphony premiere. Guest lecturers and performers include Nakai (Native American flute); archeologist Chaz Evans; Jim Ibur (pottery); David Streeter (Anasazi flute); and Laguna Pueblo Native American Deborah Taffa.

All events are free and open to the public.

Of Navajo-Ute heritage, guest musician R. Carlos Nakai is the world’s premier performer of Native American flute. As an artist, he is an adventurer and risk taker, always giving his musical imagination free rein. Nakai is also an iconoclastic traditionalist who views his cultural heritage not only as a source of inspiration, but also a dynamic continuum of natural change, growth, and adaptation subject to the artist’s expressive needs.

Nakai has received two gold records (500,000 units sold) for “Canyon Trilogy” and “Earth Spirit,” which are the first -- and only -- Native American recordings to earn such recognition. In 2014, “Canyon Trilogy” reached platinum status (more than 1 million units sold). He has sold more than 4 million recordings in his career and earned 10 Grammy nominations.

For more information, see the schedule of events, call the Meramec Music Department at 314-984-7639, or go to The Chaco Canyon Project on Facebook.