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'Buffalo Crossing' pairs Northern Cheyenne traditional art forms with symphonic music

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Buffalo Crossing

Jocy Little Sky, of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, and Dakota Tribes, is seen in performance with "Buffalo Crossing: A Northern Cheyenne Experience," featuring traditional Native American dance paired with symphonic works. The event takes place Saturday at the Alberta Bair Theater. 

The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale is wrapping up its month-long Native American celebration Saturday night at the Alberta Bair Theater with "Buffalo Crossing: A Northern Cheyenne Experience," featuring Native American dancing paired with symphonic works.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and masks are required. For tickets, go to or

Ruben Little Head Sr. and Douglas Scholfield will be serving as co-producers and emcees of the performance. Little Head and Scholfield transform the identity of Native American singing and dancing through each movement and provide the audiences with historical background. 

The program includes a work by composer Ilse-Mari Lee, "The Yellowstone Suite," a tone poem evoking the beauty, serenity, and timelessness of Yellowstone National Park.

“Living in close proximity to Yellowstone National Park for more than three decades, annual family trips to the park have always deeply inspired and moved me,” Lee said in a press release. “Although much has changed over the years, the park has remained the same and will always be a touchstone for us, as well as for our children and their children.”

Select movements of James Cockey’s Symphony No. 2, "Parmly’s Dream," will add a celebration of the city of Billings into the evening’s offerings. The work is a series of 19 tableaus from the life of Parmly Billings, whose father, Frederick Billings, was the president of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the namesake for Billings. The work was commissioned by the Western Heritage Center in Billings and premiered by the Billings Symphony Orchestra in September 2002.

The two tableaus selected to be performed Saturday night are derivative of traditional Native American music with advice and collaboration from celebrated Northern Cheyenne flute player, the late Joseph Firecrow. Cockey has worked with Walter Runsabove, Firecrow’s successor and the featured Native American flutist on the evening’s performance.

Ferde Grofé’s "Grand Canyon Suite" will complete the evening’s program. Inspired by the composer’s visits to the Grand Canyon in the early 1920s, the work is pictorial and descriptive with elements of jazz, according to conductor Gerard Schwartz.

For the third concert in their Classic Series, orchestra will again be under the baton of Maestra and Music Director Anne Harrigan. 


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