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Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata

Many cultures are guided by rich and multidimensional mysticism as expressed through spirituality and the arts. It is the universal bridge that connects all peoples and generations as we strive to learn from the past. Guided by the visions and social advocacy of the Center’s namesake, 12th Century mystic Hildegard von Bingen, Hildegard Center for the Arts has undertaken a commissioned project that highlights mysticism in the American arts with a primary focus on American Indian spirituality and history. The project is a compelling music work by Emmy award-winning Chickasaw classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate titled “Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata.”  Together, with project partner Southeast Community College Division of Humanities, Hildegard Center for the Arts hopes to “build bridges” with this original composition that uses the universal language of music to celebrate the timeless and inspirational story of Chief Standing Bear with a new generation. In the landmark Omaha trial of 1879, the famous Ponca Chief issued a stirring plea on behalf of the nation’s first residents. With his impassioned “I Am a Man” speech, Chief Standing Bear was instrumental in securing the basic right of personhood for all American Indians and igniting a movement towards greater understanding and compassion.

“That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.” – Ponca Chief Standing Bear

About the Cantata

“Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata” includes many of Standing Bear’s own words in English as well as the Ponca language, a combination rarely found in traditional classical vocal literature. The premiere performance featured the exquisite talent of the Rangbrook Ensemble, a professional string sextet, Native American operatic baritone, Grant Youngblood, and critically acclaimed pianist Dr. Ken Hoppmann.

An "Outstanding Event"

Hildegard Center for the Arts is excited to announce Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata was selected for the “Outstanding Event Award” at the 39th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, held June 7, 2017 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Click here to see all of this year’s winners.

World Premiere, November 4, 2016 at The Lied Center's Carson Theater

Friday, November 4, 7pm, The Lied Center’s Carson Theater set the stage for the exciting world premiere of Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata. The performance featured the exquisite talent of the Rangbrook Ensemble, a professional string sextet, Native American operatic baritone soloist, Grant Youngblood, and critically acclaimed pianist Dr. Ken Hoppmann.

The performance was “live-streamed” on

Download concert program here.


Special Outreach

During the week of the premiere, composer Jerod Tate, and soloist Grant Youngblood worked with students in a number of settings that included the Osni Ponca – Ponca Tribe of NebraskaSt. Augustine’s Indian Mission School in Winnebago, the Lincoln Indian Center, the LPS Humanities Focus Program and the Glenn Korff School of Music-University of Nebraska Lincoln. 


First Friday Meet-and-Greet at the UNL Great Plains Art Museum

Prior to the premiere, a “First Friday” meet-and-greet reception with composer, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, was hosted at the Great Plains Art Museum in conjunction with the museum’s bi-annual Contemporary Indigeneity Art Exhibition titled “Spiritual Borderlands.” To learn more, click here.

Critics Agree!

As an enrolled member of the Chickasaw tribe who is highly skilled in the European compositional style, Mr. Tate will bridge both cultural aesthetics without diminishing either one.

“His music borrows from both traditions but is in debt to neither. Both traditions are richer for his efforts, and so are his listeners.” Billings Gazette

“…a new musical stream unsullied by Hollywood and tourist stereotypes.” New York Times

“Tate’s connection to nature and the human experience was quite apparent in this piece…rarer still is his ability to effectively infuse classical music with American Indian nationalism.” Washington Post

For more videos, visit Jerod Tate’s YouTube channel

Resolution 16-53 from the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska's Tribal Council

Ponca Tribe of Nebraska GraphicWHEREAS: The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is a federally recognized Indian Tribe (P.L. 101-484) whose business affairs are conducted by the Ponca Tribal Council as defined in the Constitution approved July 22, 1994 by the Acting Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs; and

WHEREAS:  Pursuant to the Constitution of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska the Ponca Tribal Council shall exercise legislative powers to enact and promulgate resolutions and ordinances subject to all express restrictions upon such powers contained in the constitution; and

WHEREAS:  The Hildegard Center for the Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization whose mission is to unite people of all beliefs, cultures and traditions to inspire humanity through the arts; and

WHEREAS:  The Hildegard Center has requested support from the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska for their project “Standing Bear:  A Ponca Indian Cantata” to be presented on November 4, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT in celebration of the life and legacy of our ancestor, Chief Standing Bear, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Tribal Council hereby issues this Resolution of  Support  for  Hildegard  Center  for  the  Arts’  endeavor, “Standing  Bear:  A  Ponca  Indian Cantata.”

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT we come together with Hildegard Center in friendship to join in the mission to help a new generation remember and learn from the past as we move forward together, hand in hand into the future.

About Grant Youngblood


Hailed as a tall, dashing baritone “with a robust sound with ringing top notes,” Grant Youngblood’s many orchestral appearances have garnered enthusiastic praise for his “smooth lyric baritone voice bringing beautiful shading and color to the score.”

A Native American of the Lumbee Tribe, Grant made his Metropolitan Opera debut & telecast in Capriccio; a debut with Opera North in the role of Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro; and a company debut at the Nashville opera in his signature role of Germont in La traviata. Recent engagements include Rigoletto with both Brevard Music Center and Asheville Lyric Opera and the role of Horace Tabor in the 60th anniversary production of The Ballad of Baby Doe at Central City Opera in Colorado. Grant has performed leading roles with opera companies in America & internationally and offered a master’s artistry as he gave voice to Ponca Chief Standing Bear in the Cantata’s world premiere. To learn more about Grant Youngblood, visit his page here.

About Rangbrook Ensemble

Founded by cellist Sophia Potter in 2011, the Rangbrook Ensemble is a string sextet made up of young Southeast Nebraska-based professional musicians. Members of the ensemble include: William Wolcott (violin I), Mason Hangen (violin II), Jesse Griggs (viola I), Sarah Curley (viola II), Sophia Potter (cello I), and Jessica Dussault (cello II). All are active in the Omaha and Lincoln Symphonies, Omaha Chamber Music Society, and various music education programs throughout the Southeast Nebraska area. The Rangbrook Ensemble’s members come from a variety of educational backgrounds including studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Michigan, and the Oberlin Conservatory. The Ensemble has performed their self-presented series in a wide variety of locations throughout Lincoln and Omaha. The ensemble provided an innovative backdrop for the fresh and poignant Standing Bear Cantata. To learn more, visit the Rangbrook Ensemble’s website.


Check out the PHOTO GALLERY to see photos of the World Premiere, pre-reception and outreach.

Thank you to our Project Sponsors!

...with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

A huge thanks to the Nebraska Arts Council
and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment for their support!