by Ralph Farris
Wow, it's been an amazing few days in the Southwest. The first three days of the Native American Composers Apprentice Project (NACAP) tour were as beautiful as ever: Incredible music from these young people, with some real gems. Can't wait to present the pieces at Grand Canyon!
We started at Hopi High in Second Mesa, Ariz., then headed over to Monument Valley High in Kayenta, Ariz., and then off to Whitehorse High in Montezuma Creek, Utah. All went very smoothly, save a power outage at Whitehorse High. But the school's music teacher, Kim Schaefer, is a marvel; within a half-hour she moved our entire day's activities over to the elementary school, and everything went off without a hitch. No wonder she was Utah's 2007 Teacher of the Year!
We arrived in Moab on Wednesday night, and we are in paradise. Michael Barrett and Leslie Tomkins founded the Moab Music Festival in 1992, and they have been bringing some of the most interesting and inspiring musicians to this gorgeous corner of the world ever since. I am totally humbled and honored to be here.
We are all staying in a beautiful guesthouse which has truly become "ETHEL Central." It's our rehearsal hall, dining facility, and general office space. Very cool to be all together: working, playing, and just enjoying the opportunity to do what we do. We had a miniconcert/meet-and-greet last night at Buck's Grill House. Lovely people, delicious food, and a fantastic evening. Especially wonderful to spend some time with good friends Kenji Bunch and Jamie Bernstein.
This year's Southwest tour is extra special, in part because Russell Goodluck, a NACAP student from our last two seasons, has joined us on the road! Russell wrote to Dorothy this summer and asked if he could travel with us this season. We were thrilled at the prospect, but not quite sure how it could work out. It was amazing to see how people jumped into action to make this tour a reality for Russell. Many thanks to Dan Crank, Esther Peaches, and especially to Clare Hoffman of the Grand Canyon Music Festival!
Russell has had a smile on his face since we picked him up at his home in Chinle on our way to Monument Valley. He has been playing his flute and his guitar, writing music constantly, and watching our rehearsals and concerts. But the coolest thing has been watching Russell with the younger NACAP students. This young man is a born leader; other kids look up to him with great admiration. When he stands up in front of a group of students and talks about music, about NACAP, about life -- they listen. Russell is a very special young man.
We have our big show on Sunday. Tomorrow morning we do an open rehearsal, and then Dorothy's planning a big hike. OK, it is now intermission at the festival's opening night show and I gotta roll -- I'm off to turn pages for John Musto. Wish me luck!
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