World Voices at LTV Presents Indigenous Flute Player R. Carlos Nakai - 27 East

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World Voices at LTV Presents Indigenous Flute Player R. Carlos Nakai

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Indigenous Flute Player  R. Carlos Nakai performs at LTV Studios on Sunday. ROBERT DOYLE

Indigenous Flute Player R. Carlos Nakai performs at LTV Studios on Sunday. ROBERT DOYLE

Leah Chiappino on May 13, 2024

In its latest endeavor, LTV Studios in Wainscott is launching a new year-long series, World Voices, dedicated to giving international and underrepresented artists a platform for live performances.

The series will kick off this Sunday, May 19, at 6 p.m. with multi-Grammy-nominated R. Carlos Nakai, an iconic Indigenous flute player. Nakai, who has sold over four million albums in the course of his career and received 10 Grammy nominations, is making his East End debut with this performance. The Young Blood Singers of the Shinnecock Nation are performing a welcoming ceremony of traditional chant and drumming.

Following Nakai’s solo performance, Jason Amis, Master Yoga teacher and new host of East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve, will take to the stage to moderate a discussion between Nakai and the audience.

A master artist in his mid-70s, Nakai has previously performed with the Shinnecock Nation but is eager to see feedback from a broader Hampton’s audience. This concert represents a unique opportunity for audiences, especially those unfamiliar with the music of the Southwest, to witness a world-class artist live.

“Much of this kind of work I’ve done before in various communities in the U.S. and Europe,” Nakai said, “And so it’s not new material, but it will be interesting to field questions from the audience.”

Nakai explained that other Indigenous performers of various cultures of America concentrate on where they are as people, much of which is more or less highly romanticized in what Indigenous people were in the past, rather than what they intend to be in the future, a point of contention.

Nakai hopes to share information to move Indigenous people forward, rather than dwelling on the past. He hopes the audience walks away with a broader understanding of what it means to participate within the culture of Indigenous peoples, like the Shinnecock Nation.

“In the United States, or let’s say in North America, the majority of Indigenous people have dealt with colonialism at one time or another,” he said. “But what we do to move ourselves into the future is of more importance to me than spending time as an isolationist — to say that my culture might have been destroyed or my culture might have been impacted adversely by what had occurred in the past.”

According to LTV Creative Director Josh Gladstone, the opportunity to present this performance came through the help of Suffolk County Legislature, thanks to former legislator Bridget Fleming (and now current County Legislator Ann Welker), which presented the opportunity to offer an Indigenous artist project. Last year, LTV presented a fashion show and a film screening. Wanting to do something different this year, Gladstone searched for an artist who hadn’t yet performed on the East End.

So his thoughts turned to Nakai, as he is a lifelong fan. Gladstone recalled his mother listening to Nakai’s music as she was doing yoga.

“His work, in addition to being this beautiful, Indigenous, culturally gorgeous work, is also so meditative and peaceful and dream transporting that it’s often used as a sort of new age project and new age music,” Gladstone said.

So, while researching artists, Gladstone tracked where Nakai was performing and learned that he would be playing in Brooklyn at National Sawdust on May 18. He reached out to Nakai’s manager, who also happens to be the musician’s wife, Pamela. She graciously accepted the invitation to have Nakai come out east to perform at LTV on May 19. Gladstone’s excitement was palpable as he recounted the moment when Amis learned of Nakai’s presence, and that he would be the one hosting the talk back.

“He was like, flabbergasted,” Gladstone said.

He added that he and LTV Executive Director Michael Clark, while working closely with the board, have a strong desire to celebrate LTV as a resource for the community, especially as the organization marks its 40th anniversary season this year. The goal is to bring in artists from underrepresented groups to offer performances at prices the year round community can afford. To that end, LTV has also received a generous two-year grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for the first time in its history. All of these factors led Clark to launch World Voices.

Previous performances of World Voices have featured Georgian dance ensemble FESVEBI, Shinnecock Nation film and fashion, Pakistani sitar masters, Hispanic language screenings, and singers and dancers representing Colombia and Cuban Milonga. Coming up this summer, there will be a Juneteenth Jubilee with Eastville Community Historical Society on June 19, “Music for the Soul” with sitar maestro Ustad Shafaat Khan and his fusion band East Meets West on June 23, and Celebrating Black Culture on the East End hosted by Ambassador Sujay Johnson Cook on July 5.

These performances will be able to reach a large audience, as LTV can accommodate 185 people at the live show and also has the capacity to do a multi-camera shoot with its state-of-the-art editing facility, Gladstone explained. Almost all of the World Voices shows will be live-recorded at the time, edited and posted on LTV’s channel 20 as well as its YouTube channel.

Tickets for R. Carlos Nakai’s performance are $40 in advance, $45 at the door, and VIP café tables will be available for $65. To purchase tickets, visit LTV Studios is at 75 Industrial Road in Wainscott.

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