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.
“Everyone loved him and it was a fantastic program. There were new people in the hall we’d never seen who had come specifically for him. He sold all 100 CDs. It was terrific!”
Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra
May 6, 2017