Composer Raven Chacon Wins History Pulitzer Prize for Music

By Nicolas Quiroga
(Photo Credit: Adam Conte)

Raven Chacon has become the first Native American winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Chacon was given the famed accolade, which is endowed with a $15,000 USD reward for his “Voiceless Mass.”

“The work was commissioned specifically to use the United Church of Christ organ in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Present Music’s annual Thanksgiving concert,” said Chacon in an official statement, noting that “as an indigenous artist I never presented my work in this holiday, but in this case I made an exception.”

Chacón was born in Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, Arizona in 1977 and is recognized as a composer of chamber music and a performer of noise music. He was musically trained at the California Institute of the Arts University of New Mexico, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in music composition from the California Institute of the Arts.

The composer, who is also the recipient of the American Academy Award in Berlin, the Creative Capital Award, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship, and a Foundation for Native Arts and Cultures Artist Fellowship, among others, is also renowned for his sound  and installation art. He also performs in KILT groups and serves as songwriter-in-residence with the Native American Songwriters Apprenticeship Project.