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Bridging Traditions

R. Carlos Nakai, the premier Native American flutist, brings a unique artistry to performances in the symphonic and chamber music traditions.  His melding of the Native American flute (with a limited number of notes and non-well-tempered scale) with European classical music, requires an artistry that understands two disparate musical traditions while mastering the technical demands of both.

Nakai serves as an effective ambassador in reaching new concert audiences, consistently drawing capacity (or near capacity) houses.  Because of a successful career in other genres of music, Nakai a seven time Grammy®  nominee, has many fans following him into the concert hall including Native Americans who are often first time concert-goers.

Nakai is also an excellent guest artist for university-level ensembles providing an ethnic experience of educational, cultural, and artistic value to students.  He is adept at master classes, residencies, and lectures that focus on culture as well as traditional flute performance, theory, and composition.  He is an articulate and often iconoclastic speaker who will challenge his listeners to think in new ways.

Nakai’s artistic aspirations have always included classical music performance.  This desire, somewhat unusual within the Native American community, was born of Nakai’s education in music theory and trumpet performance.  His trumpet playing ended when his embouchure was permanently damaged in a car accident. In the early 1980s he began playing the traditional flute, and a new career was born.

Unique performer, cultural ambassador, educator, and lecturer with an iconoclastic view:  R. Carlos Nakai successfully bridges the distance between the musical traditions of Native America and classical music.  

Selected Performances

R. Carlos Nakai has appeared with the following orchestras:

Guadalupe Festival Orchestra & Chorus (James DeMars, conductor)
Redlands Symphony (Co Nguyen, conductor)
Bloomsburg University Orchestra (Mark Jelinek, conductor)
Philadelphia Orchestra (conductor)
Buffalo Symphony Orchestra (Robert Franz, conductor)
Guadalupe Festival Orchestra & Chorus (James DeMars, conductor)     
Philadelphia Sinfonia (Gary White, conductor)
2007 Chicago Sinfonietta (Paul Freeman, conductor)
Winona Cmmunity Orchestra (Paul Hoch, conductor)
2006 Omaha Symphony (Victor Yampolsky, conductor)
Cabrillo (California) Music Festival (Marin Alsop, conductor)
Bozeman (Montana) Symphony (Arthur Post, conductor)
2005 Reno Chamber Orchestra (Barry Jekowsky, conductor)
Northwest Chamber Orchestra (conductor)
Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Symphony (William LaRue, conductor)
San Juan (Colorado & New Mexico) Symphony (Arthur Post, conductor) 
Flagstaff Symphony (Randall Fleischer, conductor)
2003 Chicago Sinfonietta (Paul Freeman, conductor)
2002 Wuppertal (Germany) Orchestra (George Hanson, conductor)
2001  Arizona State University Orchestra (Timothy Russell, conductor)
2000   Pro Musica (Ohio) Chamber Orchestra (Timothy Russell, conductor)
Hudson Valley Philharmonic Symphony (Randall Fleischer, conductor)
1998 Anchorage Symphony (George Hanson, conductor)
1995 Tucson Symphony (Robert Bernhardt, conductor)
Saskatoon (Canada) Symphony
1994  California Symphony (Barry Jekowsky, conductor)
1993 Phoenix Symphony (James Sedares, conductor)
1989 French Bicentennial Festival (Arizona) Orchestra (James DeMars, conductor)
1987 Nouveau West (Arizona) Chamber Orchestra (Terry Williams, conductor)

For orchestral/classical bookings, contact:

© 2014 R. Carlos Nakai