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This composer is telling the story of the land where America sits through a flaglike score

 A man with shoulder length hair looks at the camera. The background is of the plains, with a red-orange sunset across the sky.
Courtesy of artist
Composer Raven Chacon.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Raven Chacon shares how he's turning the concept of reading a score on its head as we explore and honor the work of indigenous composers on this episode of Sound Currents.

Raven Chacon is no stranger to challenging the conventions of classical music through his work, and his piece, "American Ledger," does so through the score itself.

Rather than the typical musical staff and notes you see on sheet music, the score is depicted through a flag, giving the musicians (and audience) room to interpret what they're seeing in a unique way. This differs from the "stale documents you [typically] see classical musicians reading from."

The flag/score utilizes symbols to tell the story of the land the United States of America sits on, from the beginning of its creation through the timeline of various stewards of the land. Although Chacon focuses on telling the story of indigenous caretakers of the land, "everyone's identity ends up in this piece."

"American Ledger" will be performed on Wednesday, October 26, 7 p.m. at KCAI.
Raven Chacon will be giving a free lecture at JCCC on Thursday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. and will be working with UMKC composers on Friday, October 28 at 1 p.m. for the UMKC Composers forum.

Sascha Groschang
Laurel Parks

Raven Chacon, composer

Overhead Song
by Raven Chacon
Raven Chacon - electronics

Lats' aadah
by Raven Chacon
Cornelius Dufallo - violin

by Connor Chee
Emanuele Arciuli - piano

Navajo Vocable No. 9
by Connor Chee
Emanuele Arciuli - piano

OnekhaÕsh˜n-a, YaÕk˜n-kwe (The Waters, The Women)an
by Dawn Avery
Duo Concertante

by Andrew Balfour
Patrick Newcomb with the Woodlands High School Chamber Choir

Vision Chant
by Andrew Balfour
Joel Tranquilla with the Canadian Chamber Choir

Divertimento No. 4 for Piano Quartet
by Juantio Becenti
St. Petersburg Piano Quartet

Sascha Groschang is a host for Sound Currents on 91.9 Classical KC.
Laurel Parks is a host for Sound Currents on 91.9 Classical KC.
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at
Brooke Knoll is the digital audience specialist and afternoon host for Classical KC. You can reach her at