On Wednesday, May 18, The Colorado, a multimedia exploration of the Colorado River Basin, received its New York premiere before a sold-out audience at The Met. This inspired film presented breathtaking visuals and featured a live score performed by the inimitable vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, percussionist Glenn Kotche, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler. A soundtrack at its most pure, this live score imparted a more resonant sensation than just film or concert alone; the whole evening brought together both sight and sound at the height of their powers.
Directed by Murat Eyuboglu, narrated by Academy Award winner Mark Rylance, and written by Eyuboglu along with William deBuys, The Colorado was filmed over the course of four years, with footage captured along the 1,500 miles through the Colorado River Basin—from the high mountains of Wyoming and Colorado to the wetlands and mudflats of Baja California and Mexico. In addition to showcasing the beauty and elegance of the landscape, which is almost overwhelming in its depiction of the landscape's vibrant and varied colors, the film communicates a powerful message about the area's natural resources; the demands of agricultural advancements; the impact of climate change; and the past, present, and future of the river.
Comprising nine parts, the film brings together the work of several composers—John Luther Adams, Paola Prestini, Glenn Kotche (and Kotche with Jeffrey Zeigler), William Brittelle, and Shara Nova—all of whom collaborated together on the project even though each composer's work is featured separately. The varied style and voice of each composer created a fascinating momentum, providing distinct inflections to each narrative that ranged from tribal-sounding percussion to rich choral passages. And because the music was live, the audience could absorb the film and the onstage musicians simultaneously, which created striking moments like the undulating and haunting vocals as the camera swooped under the river's waters and the delicate, descending notes of Kotche on the xylophone during the section entitled "Cathedrals in the Desert."
Whether you joined us at the premiere last week or not, experience this memorable event with these powerful images of the performance.