Bridging Cultures Via Music


On Friday night on the campus of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, members of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra performed their Bridging Cultures concert. The event was about what South Dakota is and is becoming.

An individual music note, without the context of the other notes around it, doesn’t say a whole lot. But a population of different notes grouped together creates a nuanced story- maybe about what’s happening right now.

“I’m here representing India, and the pieces that I write have to do a lot with Indian classical music and western classical music together,” composer Reena Esmail said.

A piece Esmail wrote is part of Friday night’s program.

“I certainly do get called to go to many places around the country and around the world, and to me when I started to see what the South Dakota Symphony was doing, I really felt that it was very important to be here,” Esmail said.

“It’s just a way to build a bridge of understanding between our cultures,” South Dakota Symphony Orchestra Music Director Delta David Gier said.

Like it often has all over the world, this music reflects people.

“We have a fairly large Guatemalan population in Sioux Falls, Salvadoran population, so we have both of those composers, music’s represented on tonight’s concert,” Gier said. “We also have a Pakistani composer and an Indian composer, again, those two cultures represented in Sioux Falls.”

“I think music is just such a catalyst,” said Taneeza Islam, executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace. “It evokes emotion without words. It is really a testament to the South Dakota Symphony’s efforts to building bridges.”

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