RIVER OF DOUBT
RIVER OF DOUBT
Soundscapes (pre-recorded the by composer in the Amazon)
2222–423*1*–timp., 1 perc., piano, strings, *tuba optional
I. River of Doubt
II. Cloud Forest
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.
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
Aurally depicts the grandeur and continually evolving landscapes of the Amazonian Cloud Forest
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.
Roosevelt after a speech in New York
Roosevelt Canoeing and Writing
Roosvelt Sick Canoe
Roosevelt and Rondon Image
River of Doubt
River Departure Canoes
Rapids of Navaïté
Fer de Lance
George Cherrie Rifle Rapids
Great Canoe Photo
Palms alog the river bank
Possible Cover Photo
River of Doubt crew
Rondon and Roosevelt
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...