RIVER OF DOUBT

PHOTOS               PROGRAM NOTE              PERUSAL SCORE

 
 

RIVER OF DOUBT

INSTRUMENTATION

Soundscapes (pre-recorded the by composer in the Amazon)

2222–4230–timp., 1 perc., piano, strings,

24 minutes
I. River of Doubt
II. Cloud Forest
III. Rondon

Orchestra+Soundscapes premiered by Timothy Muffitt and the MSFO 2021

How does a U.S. president try and recover after a failed reelection campaign?  In 1913/14 President Theodore Roosevelt and a figure of equal energy and importance, Brazilian General Cândido Rondon, decided to co-lead an expedition exploring the last major uncharted tributary of the Amazon River, the RIVER OF DOUBT (Rio Da Dúvida). 

 

At that time South America as the least explored/mapped continent (outside of Antarctica).  It started as the adventure that Roosevelt wanted and ended up as one he hadn’t bargained for; members quit in droves, some died, one was killed, and the killer was left for dead.  According to author Candice Mallard, after suffering a serious injury and infection the former president considered suicide so that the remainder of the team, with their meager supplies and precarious health, might make it out alive.  Rondon and Roosevelt were up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  In the end, Roosevelt and the remaining members made it out.  The former president was a ghost of his former self, some fifty pounds lighter having sustained injuries that ultimately shortened his life.   

 

100 years after the expedition, my wife and I traveled to the Amazon basin to record soundscapes of ecosystems in peril. Our indigenous guides took us on dugout canoes deep into this biodiverse ecosystem, the lungs of the world, to record sounds as they might have sounded for the last several hundred years. 

 

River of Doubt is ideally performed with these soundscapes, bringing the audience deep into this sound world.  At points, the orchestra becomes the soundscape, drawing parallels between the sounds we hear in the natural world and those we hear in the concert hall. 

 

  1. River of Doubt is an entry into the unknown, a decision which offers no option of turning back.  It begins with soundscapes, and near the end, the woodwind instruments and percussion take on different birdcalls found in the Amazon, creating a soundscape that plays outside the confines of the orchestral music

  2. Aurally depicts the grandeur and continually evolving landscapes of the Amazonian Cloud Forest

  3. Is an examination of excitement of exploration through the boundless energy and influence of the indigenous advocate and explorer Cândido Rondon. 

 

 

Expedition member and naturalist George Cherrie wrote of the night soundscape, “Let there be the least break of harmony of sound, and instantly there succeeds a deathlike silence, while all living things wait in dread for the inevitable shriek that follows the night prowler’s stealthy spring.” I agree with George Cherrie, it is not the sounds but rather the sudden cessation of sound that causes alarm, whether it is the alarm of a predator lurking, or a climate in crisis. 

 
Presidential profile

Presidential profile

Roosevelt after a speech in New York

Utiarity Falls

Utiarity Falls

Roosevelt Canoeing and Writing

Roosevelt Canoeing and Writing

Roosvelt Sick Canoe

Roosvelt Sick Canoe

Roosevelt and Rondon Image

Roosevelt and Rondon Image

River of Doubt

River of Doubt

River Departure Canoes

River Departure Canoes

Rapids of Navaïté

Rapids of Navaïté

Fer de Lance

Fer de Lance

Cats

Cats

George Cherrie Rifle Rapids

George Cherrie Rifle Rapids

Great Canoe Photo

Great Canoe Photo

Palms alog the river bank

Palms alog the river bank

Pirahnha

Pirahnha

Possible Cover Photo

Possible Cover Photo

Expedition Map

Expedition Map

River of Doubt crew

River of Doubt crew

Rondon and Roosevelt

Rondon and Roosevelt

Roosevelt on Moose.jpg

Roosevelt on Moose.jpg

This image is actually one of the earliest photoshops, look carefully at Roosevelts leg in the water to see the giveaway...