Since 1943, music has been among the Pulitzer Prizes awarded to some of America’s most notable composers, including Aaron Copland, Jennifer Higdon, and even Duke Ellington. Well in 2022, the prize was awarded, for the very first time, to an indigenous composer.

My name’s Garrett McQueen, and on this edition of Noteworthy I’d like to tell you a little about that Indigenous composer – a man named Raven Chacon.

Raven was born on the Navajo Nation back in 1977, and quickly gained an appreciation for the arts. After earning a bachelors and masters in fine arts, Raven Chacon would have both visual and musical works showcased at institutions including Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kennedy Center, and the National Museum of the American Indian.

While classical music is by no means his only forte, he’s certainly made a name for himself in that field, with pieces that feature the voice, chamber ensemble, and even electric guitar. This work, his Pulitzer Prize winning composition, Voiceless Mass, was premiered in Milwaukee, at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Through his Voiceless Mass, Raven urges audiences to remember the communities of people whose voices will never be heard, and encourages us all to consider how music can be a tool for both justice and hope. Congratulations to Raven Chacon – one of America’s most NoteWorthy composers.

NoteWorthy is a production of WDAV Classical Public Radio.

Pictured: Raven Chacon by Neal Santos.