Editorial: Pulitzer honors NM artist - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Pulitzer honors NM artist

Earlier this month, Raven Chacon, a Diné composer based in Albuquerque, became the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

In its note on the award, the Pulitzer jury called Chacon’s chamber music piece, “Voiceless Mass,” a “mesmerizing, original work … that evokes the weight of history in a church setting, a concentrated and powerful music expression with a haunting, visceral impact.”

Chacon’s piece was co-commissioned by the Milwaukee organization Present Music for its annual Thanksgiving concert. He composed it for a pipe organ housed in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee.

Chacon joins a proud tradition of artists and historians with connections to the Land of Enchantment who have won a Pulitzer. Chacon’s father was from Mora, his mother came from Chinle, Arizona. Born on the Navajo Nation in Fort Defiance, Arizona, Chacon grew up in Albuquerque, where he earned his bachelor’s in music at UNM. He earned his master’s in fine arts from California Institute of the Arts.

And he’s also an installation artist and captures images, video and field recordings. That’s no surprise given his eclectic background. A Journal profile noted, “His grandfather sang traditional Navajo songs. Chacon veered more toward heavy metal and experimental music, navigating the N.M. band scene.”

Who would have ever thought “heavy metal” and “Pulitzer” would exist in the same story? We salute Chacon and his road less traveled on his way to becoming a Pulitzer winner and inspiration.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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