MY ART STORY by

Sara Penny

Cedar City
Utah

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Native American doing a traditional dance at night by a bnfire

Paiute dancers helped with the filming of the video for “The Spanish Trail Suite.” Photo by Jerry Waddell, Video Ideas

"The Spanish Trail Suite" celebrates the three cultures that converge in Cedar City: Paiute, Hispanic, and Pioneer. The Orchestra of Southern Utah commissioned the work after the Spanish Trail was declared a national trail in 2002 with help from the National Endowment for the Arts and local foundations.

This music helped connect our local Paiute tribe with the wider community. We had a drum circle with the Native-American dancers begin the concert, and it was absolutely magical. It would not have been possible without support from the NEA. One of the composers, Steven Sharp Nelson, has gone on to an international music career with the Piano Guys, and in 2007 Video Ideas of Chattanooga added a visual enhancement to the music. The music has also been performed in China under the direction of Xun Sun. We utilized local people for the video, and it was a great community builder. The project was also recognized at the League of American Orchestras national conference in 2008.

We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to commission new music with the help of NEA funding, which enriches the orchestra repertoire and celebrates our local cultures.