Dawn Avery, composer/cello

Photo Credit: Deborah Martin

Composer, cellist, vocalist, educator and GRAMMY and NAMA nominated performer Dawn Avery has worked with musical luminaries Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, John Cale, John Cage, R. Carlos Nakai and Joanne Shenandoah. Of Mohawk descent, she participates in Longhouse ceremonies and is dedicated to language preservation, archival recordings and future generations of Indigenous composers and scholars.
Her chamber music often employs elements of sacred and world music. Avery has had her music performed in such places as the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, North Dakota Contemporary Museum of Art, University of Maryland, Memorial University, Juilliard School, Colorado College, UCLA, Merkin Hall, Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, and in Canada, Italy and Germany.

Her works for wind quintet EngleWinds can be heard on the recording Tulpe. Avery recorded the North American Indian Cello Project, Vol. I (band camp) featuring works by Native composers, commissioned by the Ford Foundation and the American Composer’s Forum. She has also composed music for award-winning films with Rich/Heape Productions, Miramax, Smithsonian and PBS. Avery’s theatre works include Spiderwoman Theatre and Heather Henson’s (of the Jim Henson legacy) production of Ajijaak on Turtle Island. The latter Indigenous based project led to a short run at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway. Most recently, she wrote two short operas on Indigenous themes: Trials and Tears commissioned by the New Music Alliance Theatre with Ojibwe librettist Ty Defoe for the Phillips Gallery Bicentennial and Sacajawea: Woman of Many Names, music for Imagining The Indian (Ciesla Fdn film documentary). The recording for her vln/pno duo that is about the symbiotic relationship between women and the water is dedicated to the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women is coming out this March (Duo Concertante). Dr. Avery holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology with research on the application of Indigenous Theory to Native Classical Composers and their compositions.