The Legend of Pecos Bill

While a composer in residence in Wyoming, I wanted to capture the landscape of the open prairies and quiet nights that seemed to most inspired by remembering on my favorite American tall-tales I learned about as a kid growing-up in Texas. After abandoning the idea of using narrator, I decided to approach the idealized, highly energetic, and larger-than-life hero, Pecos Bill, by trying to depict some of the stories of his tall-tales through the suggestive use of orchestrating and harmonizing a singular short theme which could be continually altered throughout the set of 5 attaca movements, which feature the main characters and elements of the dramas: 1) Pecos Bill Shows Off, 2) The Appearance of Slue-Foot Sue, 3) Lightning, The Horse, 4) The West, and 5) Finale (which is a Coda that is reminiscent of the beginning, that serves to bookend the piece). In my mind, I was going for very clear images of what was happening as based on some of the tales: Pecos Bill riding a tornado like a bronco, using a rattlesnake as a lasso, Slue-Foot Sue who rode a giant catfish down a river and was the only woman who Pecos Bill ever loved, Lightning, the horse, who ate dynamite, could not be tamed by anyone and still live. These evocative images easily translated into writing quickly descending flourishes, dissonant clusters of tension, sparks of flutes and muted brass, and ripping, aggressive Horn lines which can be heard, understood, and felt, much like the oral traditions of which the cowboys and settlers during the westward expansion gave us, are based upon.

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ACO Performances

Buffalo Philharmonic Earshot New Music Readings (2011)

February 9, 2011 12:00 am
Kleinhans Music Hall

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