Community Connections – Projects

Native Lands Community Composition Project

The Native Lands Project started with the desire to build cultural understanding and respect through music between the Seattle Symphony and tribal nations in the Puget Sound region through creating new art together. This joint composition between the Seattle Symphony and Native artists was curated by local composer Janice Giteck and premiered in September 2013 and was performed again on March 14, 2015, at the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue.

Special thanks to the kwax-wad-ad-achi Cultural Family, the Puyallup Tribe, the Shooting Stars Performance Ensemble and the East Shore Unitarian Church.


The Potlatch Symphony composition was the result of three years of partnership and collaboration, including:

  • Cultural exchanges: facilitated sharing of traditions and ideas between six Pacific Northwest tribal groups and Symphony musicians and educators.
  • Composition: Janice Gitek incorporated the sounds and ideas from the culture into the final composition.
  • The world premiere performance: the Potlatch Symphony was presented as part of Seattle Symphony’s free Day of Music celebration at Benaroya Hall in Seattle in September 2013. Participants included Native violinist Swil Kanim and Native flutist Paul “Che oke ten” Wagner, Native youth, students from Cornish College of the Arts and musicians of the Seattle Symphony.
  • Second performance: an encore performance of the Potlatch Symphony took place at the East Shore Unitarian Church on March 14, 2015. Audience members were encouraged to bring their own drums to the performance for a group jam session.


The Seattle Times: Native, non-Native cultures meet in Potlatch Symphony

Ethnomusicology Journal (Vol. 60, No. 1): Native Seattle in the Concert Hall: An Ethnography of Two Symphonies


The Seattle Symphony gratefully acknowledges the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation and the League of American Orchestras for their generous support of the Native Lands Community Composition Project.