The Buffalo Bayou
commissioned by the Endangered Spieces Media Project

Premiered by
the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra
April 2010

Robert Moody, conductor

20 minutes

The original idea for this piece was to be a musical score to accompany a documentary film produced to create awareness of the Buffalo Bayou;
an awareness of three aspects in particular: the natural beauty and innocence of nature, the damage to this beauty by industrialization, and the continuing efforts to revitalize and restore the bayou to its original beauty. These three movements together form a body of music that tells this story.

Score & parts available.

I. Tenderly, as a prayer opens with the “voice” of the river in the English Horn: a voice that continues through all the movements. Once on the bayou, we hear nature all around us; from obvious things such as birds, wind, and splashes to the unheard feelings and visual sensations like the sights of a great Cypress tree with root systems that twist around banks and rocks.The bayou has many different views depending on where you are. There are peaceful, open areas while other locations are mysterious and quite dark. These moments are the inspiration for this movement.

II. Largo, mysterioso is a depiction of the impact industrialization has made on the innocent, natural beauty of the bayou. This movement begins with the first sign of change as a familiar sound slowly becomes somber and ominous. Brooding brass chords and altered melodies herald the dawn of a new era. Chaos and confusion erupt out of the natural current of the water. Pollution, steel, and concrete have taken the place of root systems and natural dams. The bayou’s familiar voice has changed.

III. Reflective and calm is meant as a simple coda to this suite. It is something that can
neither sound definite nor fulfilling. Redemption takes time and hard work. The melody
that has become so familiar comes back with a new orchestration as the dawn of a new era begins. Life starts to returns and flourish in some parts of the bayou, but there is more to do. The piece ends with the hope of a new future.

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