Raven Chacon

5 Feb 2021


Raven Chacon, 2020 Pew Fellow. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Tremble Staves, composed by Pew Fellow Raven Chacon, 2017-2019, performed amongst the collapsed ruins of the failed Sutro Baths in San Francisco’s Lands End. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Raven Chacon, 2020 Pew Fellow. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“My compositions explore the musical space between natural and unnatural sounds of my self-made instruments: the scrape of an amplified antler against glass, the shriek of seven bone whistles screaming, the drone of a barbed-wire fence in the dust wind, the hum of encroaching electrical towers.”

Raven Chacon is a composer, performer, and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, usually based in Albuquerque. whose works combine contemporary chamber music with self-made electronic and acoustic instruments while conveying the perspectives of Indigenous people. He composes for chamber instruments but notes that his work is “deliberately performed for non-traditional audiences and in non-classical venues,” like American Ledger No. 2, performed and displayed as a billboard along I-244 in Tulsa, OK, and Tremble Staves, performed among the ruins of the Sutro Baths in San Francisco’s Lands End. His commissions include Sweet Land for opera company The Industry and The Journey of the Horizontal People for Kronos Quartet. Chacon was a member of the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity from 2009 to 2018 and, since 2005, has taught experimental chamber composition to high school students on the Navajo and Hopi reservations as part of the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project. He has performed his work at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Transmissions Festival in Italy, Borealis in Norway, and the Kamias Triennial in the Philippines. Chacon holds an MFA in music from the California Institute of the Arts and a BA in music from the University of New Mexico.

As a touring musician, Chacon came to know Philadelphia through its experimental music venues and the community that supports them. During his residency in Philadelphia, Chacon plans to investigate the region’s experimental music scene and Indigenous histories as he creates new musical works.