Brent Michael Davids

Composer/ Musician: TUK (Tukuhnikivatiz); Utah, Spirit Place, Spirit Planet, Tukuhnikivatz (1996)

Brent Michael Davids, top American Indian film composer, trained at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, and apprenticed with film composer Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare In Love). Davids has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS and NAPT. Davids film scores include: 1920 Last of the Mohicans, Dreamkeeper, The World of American Indian Dance, The Business of Fancy Dancing, The Silent Enemy, Another Direction, Raccoon & Crawfish, and Bright Circle.  Composer and musician for Utah * Spirit Place * Spirit Planet * Tukuhnikivatz and the film TUK with his Blue Butterfly Group.


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Brent Michael Davids


Davids (composer and musician) is a nationally acclaimed composer whose commissions include compositions for the Joffrey Ballet, the Kronos Quartet and the National Symphony Orchestra.  His music has been performed at Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and major cities across the US as well as England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France, Austria, and the Netherlands.


Davids has received numerous awards from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and the most prestigious composition award given in the State of Arizona: the Arizona Commission on the Arts Award.


David’s appetite for experimentation and deep intimacy with indigenous music, in combination with his 19 years as a composer, explains why he receives commissions from the nation’s best known ensembles.  Davids holds a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in composition from Northern Illinois University and Arizona State University respectively.


Davids, an enrolled member of the Mohican Nation, is one of the very few classically trained Native American composers working today.  His music contains elements of Native American tribal music combined with Western compositional techniques.  Davids promotes cross‑cultural understanding and appreciation for indigenous life styles.  His Voices of Shadow Canyon, for example, conveys his encounter with the people and petroglyphs of Canyon de Chelly in Northern Arizona.  The Singing Woods, written for the Kronos Quartet, and Moon of The Fallen Leaves, for the Joffrey Ballet, were influenced and inspired by traditional Mohican life.  Davids often uses traditional Native American instruments, as well as instruments of his own design, in his compositions.  Original instruments include soprano and bass flutes made of quartz crystal.


Davids has composed for very different ensembles and genres demonstrating his skill and versatility attained from his classical training.  His works include choir pieces performed by the Dale Warland Singers, Native American Suite, ’95; chamber works for the Kronos Quartet, The Singing Woods, ’94, and Turtle People, ’95, featuring the Mohican creation story and turtle water drum, and Native American Anthem, ’96;  ballets for the Joffrey Ballet, Moon of the Falling Leaves, ’91, and Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, Tukuhnikivatz, ’96; as well as works for mixed small ensembles ranging from a trio for two double basses and crystal bass flute, Petroglyph, ’94 to a work for his own instrument, crystal flute, and voice In Wisconsin Woods, ’92.

 Basic Native American Philosophy:  Everything is related.  We are all related, a family – even non-human “people” (i.e. rock people, bird people, etc.).

 Traditionally, Native Americans used instruments to “talk” with nature.  This talking music approach is a dynamic way of understanding how everything is connected and how Native Americans share with the earth.

 Native American music and instruments generally serve a specific and small community of indigenous people that participate in public performances or ceremonial observances.  Tukuhnikivatz expands the usual domain of Native American contemporary music, dance, and art to connect to a much wider community  around the world.

When we collaborate and experiment, we discover life benefits as well as musical and artistic ones.  Our interactions as composer, dancers, children, and adults build important relational skills.  This experience benefits all children and adults alike.  If we are able, as are Native American traditions, to excite cooperation in each other, we have accomplished a great thing.                                       Brent Michael Davids, Mohican Nation